Introduction to Intentional Peer Support

Introduction to Intentional Peer Support

Eva Dech and Darby Penney, M.L.S.

Come explore Intentional Peer Support, a model for thinking about and intentionally inviting powerfully transformative relationships among peers. Participants learn to use relationships to see things from new angles, develop greater awareness of personal and relational patterns, and to support and challenge each other as we try new things.

We will also discuss a new 3-year quasi-experimental study by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research(NIDILRR) that is examining the comparative effectiveness of Intentional Peer Support for adults with psychiatric histories. This project is led by a principal investigator (PI) with a psychiatric history, studying IPS practiced in n peer-run programs. A new scale jointly developed by the PI and IPS staff is used to assesses the extent to which study participants feel that peer support staff are practicing the core competencies taught to IPS practitioners.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to describe and demonstrate the three principles (Co-learning versus Helping; Focus on the Relationship versus the Individual; Hope versus Fear) and four tasks of Intentional Peer Support (Establishing Connection, Understanding Worldview, Creating Mutuality, Moving Towards instead of Moving Away)

  2. Participants will understand how IPS is different from conventional approaches and how it can be used to generate new ideas and conversations that help both people become unstuck and grow.

  3. Participants will understand how they can apply IPS in their work lives and environments.


The Intro to IPS presentation is highly interactive and invites conversations throughout. We will use Powerpoint to introduce participants to the basic concepts of IPS, and will also present role plays to demonstrate IPS skills. Three times throughout the workshop, participants will be invited to practice IPS skills and what they're learning in small groups. We will then analyze and discuss our observations as a larger group. We will also use a couple of short video clips to demonstrate IPS in action.

The bulk of the presentation will be geared towards how IPS can be used to understand and generate wellness in people's lives. Since IPS does not assume any one path, we will focus particularly close on how relationships can provide opportunities for developing trust, new perspectives, and taking risks to grow. By learning about and practicing the three principles and four tasks, participants will walk away with skills to further explore and develop in their work environments.

Intentional Peer Support (PowerPoint)

Link to brief presenter bios: Eva Dech, Darby Penney, M.L.S.