Intentional Peer Support provides a powerful framework for creating relationships where both people learn and grow together. We offer a range of trainings to examine and practice what is necessary to build mutual support. IPS is used across the world in community, peer support, and human services settings, and is a tool for community development with broad appeal to people from all walks of life.
What is IPS?
Intentional Peer Support is a way of thinking about and inviting transformative relationships. Practitioners learn to use relationships to see things from new angles, develop greater awareness of personal and relational patterns, and support and challenge each other in trying new things.
IPS is unique from traditional human services because:
- IPS relationships are viewed as partnerships that invite and inspire both parties to learn and grow, rather than as one person needing to ‘help’ another.
- IPS doesn’t start with the assumption of a problem. With IPS, each of us pays attention to how we have learned to make sense of our experiences, then uses 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 learn to ask “What happened?”
- IPS examines our lives in the context of mutually accountable relationships and communities — looking beyond the mere notion of individual responsibility for change.
- IPS encourages us to increasingly live and move towardswhat we want instead of focusing on what we need to stop or avoid doing.
Peers come together around shared experiences and often a desire to change lives. But without a new framework to build upon, people frequently re-enact “help” based on what was done to them. IPS offers a foundation for doing something different. We come from a history of grassroots alternatives that focus on building relationships that are mutual, explorative, and conscious of power.
“As peer support in mental health proliferates, we must be mindful of our intention: social change. It is not about developing more effective services, but rather about creating dialogues that have influence on all of our understandings, conversations, and relationships.” – Shery Mead, Founder of IPS