Intentional Peer Support: Healing and Social Change through Non-Coercive Relationships- an evaluative approach

Chris Hansen and Darby Penney

Learning Goals and 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 differs from conventional approaches and how it can be used to generate new non-coercive ideas and conversations that help both people become unstuck and grow.

3) Participants will understand how they can apply IPS in their lives and communities.

4) Participants will understand the role and process of the three-year NIDILRR research project designed to measure the effectiveness of IPS.


This workshop is highly interactive and invites conversations throughout. We will describe how Intentional Peer Support can provide non-coercive and healing communities, and will introduce participants to the basic concepts of IPS, using short video clips to demonstrate IPS in action. We will present role plays to demonstrate IPS skills and will analyze and discuss our observations as a group. IPS does not assume any one path, so we will focus particularly on how relationships can provide opportunities for developing trust, new perspectives, and taking risks to grow. We will also discuss an ongoing 3-year study funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) to examine the comparative effectiveness of Intentional Peer Support for adults with psychiatric histories. This study is led by a principal investigator (PI) with a psychiatric history, studying IPS practiced in 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.