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National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery | NCMHR

What is Intentional Peer Support?

Intentional Peer Support is a way of thinking about purposeful relationships. It is a process where both people (or a group of people) use the relationship to look at things from new angles, develop greater awareness of personal and relational patterns, and to support and challenge each other as we try new things. IPS has been used in crisis respite (alternatives to psychiatric hospitalization), by peers, mental health professionals, families, friends and community-based organizations.

IPS is different from traditional service relationships because:

  • It doesn’t start with the assumption of “a problem.” Instead people are taught to listen for how and why each of us has learned to make sense of our experiences, and then use the relationship to create new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing.
  • IPS promotes a ‘trauma-informed’ way of relating- instead of asking ‘what’s wrong’ we think about ‘what happened’?
  • IPS looks beyond the notion of individuals needing to change and examines our lives in the context of our relationships and communities.
  • Peer Support relationships are viewed as partnerships that enable both parties to learn and grow- rather than as one person needing to ‘help’ another.
  • Instead of a focus on what we need to stop or avoid doing, we are encouraged to move towards what and where we want to be.

For more information, see www.mentalhealthpeers.com