Now that you have seen the standards and criteria, it is time for a look at the complete taxonomy.

A taxonomy is a scheme of classification. (Remember learning the biologic classification system of domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species? The CAPRSS one is not quite that complex.) CAPRSS has created an accreditation taxonomy, which consists of (in descending order):

  • functional area (operational area)
    • domain
      • standard
        • criterion
          • element of performance

Each of the levels of the taxonomy is described below.

Functional areas

The classification begins with the four functional areas.

  1. Principles: Elements that are often seen as intangible—principles, culture, and climate—and yet are known to have a significant impact on organizational success.
  2. People: People are the heart of peer recovery support services program; this area helps PRSS programs to examine how peer leaders and peer supervisors are recruited, oriented, trained, supervised, and developed, and policies needed to ensure a good environment for all staff—volunteer and paid.
  3. Practices: Organizational practices that are critical for organizational stability and success.
  4. Performance: Capacities that programs have to help people achieve and maintain recovery.


There are seven core domains, and four optional domains. The core domains are presented below.

  1. Recovery Principles, Culture, and Climate (RPCC)
    Recovery principles are what differentiate peer recovery support/services from treatment and from other types of recovery services. A program’s principles—its basic assumptions and ways of working—and values—those things of worth, meaning, or importance—serve as the core from which practices (patterns of actions), services, and everything else emanate.
    Culture includes deeply held values, beliefs and assumptions, symbols, heroes, and rituals. An organization’s culture is the mixture of qualities that gives the group its identity. It is comprised of many tangible elements—such as dress “code” or language— and intangible ones —such as underlying values.
    Climate consists of the recurring patterns of behavior, attitudes and feelings that characterize life in the organization. Climate is akin to the weather within an organization—how warm or cool it is. Like the weather, organizational climate is the sum of “prevailing conditions,” including accessibility, openness, inclusivity, and diversity. An organization with a good climate attracts new people to its efforts; one with a negative climate is characterized by high turn-over, low participation, high levels of mistrust, and lack of momentum.
    The climate and culture of peer recovery support organizations and programs directly relate to the effectiveness of recovery support. The program’s climate and culture set the context in which personal recovery can occur.
  1. Ethical Framework for Service Delivery (EFSD)
    Peer recovery support services (PRSS) programs require an ethical framework for service delivery—an essential supporting structure that helps to guide interactions in the peer setting. This structure includes a code of ethics or code of conduct, training, and ongoing dialogue. In most cases, simply “importing” a professional code of ethics and training is not effective. There is a difference between the professional-client relationship and the relationship of the peer leader and the peer being served that warrants an ethical framework specifically tailored to PRSS.
  1. Peer Leader Development (PLD)
    Peer recovery support service (PRSS) programs are engaging a new cadre of personnel in the recovery workforce: peer leaders. Peer leaders (also called peer workers) are people with experiential wisdom on how to achieve and sustain recovery who help those with less recovery experience. They provide this help through mentoring or coaching individuals; facilitating support and educational groups; providing a connection to resources that support recovery, such as housing, employment, and healthcare services; and creating a community of people in and seeking recovery where all feel welcome and where hope can dispel despair. They can provide this support before, during, and after treatment or independently of treatment. A quality peer leader development system that starts with the strengths and experiences of the recovery community and builds the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver quality peer-to-peer services.
  1. Peer Supervisor Development (PSD)
    Peer programs engage a diverse—and often sizeable—cadre of people with experiential wisdom to provide recovery support to their peers. An effective program supports its peer leaders (peer workers) through mentoring, facilitation, and management and is designed to enhance motivation, autonomy, self-awareness, and skills. This support role falls to peer supervisors. PRSS programs must ensure that they have processes to develop the competencies of peer supervisors so that they have a good understanding of their role, and the knowledge, attitudes, and skills to do well.
  1. Governance and Program Oversight (GPO)
    Peer recovery support programs can be developed and operated in many different organizational contexts, including recovery community organizations— organizations that are primarily composed of and led by people with lived experience of addiction and recovery. Many other PRSS programs are housed in organizations that provide peer recovery support as part of a larger mission that is recovery-oriented or is focused on another agenda of which recovery is an important part (e.g., AIDS, community re-entry from prison, or child protection). Regardless of organization type, basic good governance is important. In addition, there are some specific governance characteristics that are important in order for PRSS programs to flourish. Both are reflected in the CAPRSS standards.
  1. Management Systems (MS)
    Management systems provide a structure for doing things efficiently and effectively. The management systems for PRSS program are much the same as those for any other organization—human resources, financial management, quality assurance. And yet, each also has unique characteristics because of the peer setting.
  1. Peer Support Capacity: Core Competencies (PSCC)
    In order to effectively serve individuals in and seeking recovery, peer recovery support programs must have the capacity to offer/deliver needed PRSS in their communities.There are specific core competencies for well-run peer programs that differentiate PRSS from treatment and other recovery support organizations, including the capacity to engage in continuing community strengths-and-needs assessments and capacities related to program design, implementation, management, and evaluation.

Standards and Criteria

There are 30 core standards and nearly 150 criteria within the seven core domains.

Elements of Performance

Each criteria has one or more elements of performance, which are examples of the the activities, actions, or processes that an organization might do that in meeting a particular criterion or standard. For example, criterion RPCC-3.6 is “The program maintains a warm and welcoming space.” The listed elements of performance are:

  • Decor/decoration is culturally inviting
  • The physical site is pleasant and attractive
  • The space is safe and clean
  • The site is conveniently located
  • Visitors to site are welcomed in a warm and friendly manner

Each of these elements is indicative of the criterion being met. It is very important to note that there may be things not on the list that also demonstrate that the criterion is being met. As part of their self study, accreditation candidates are encouraged to present other elements of performance that fit the criteria.

← Core Standards: Summary (v1.1) | Conclusion →


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