INTENTIONAL PEER SUPPORT—THE FOUNDATION OF CPSC
The essential element of Intentional Peer Support (IPS) is Connection. Without connection, the other IPS tasks (Worldview, Mutuality and Moving Towards) would be difficult or impossible to do. Trust and openness flourish in an atmosphere of Connection.
The most important characteristic of those practicing Intentional Peer Support is the ability to self-reflect. For example, if an individual senses a “disconnect” in a relationship at the Center, it is up to him or her to share that observation with the other individual and then explore together what happened. The goal would be to restore the connection, usually through listening, giving and receiving feedback. This feels risky to most, and is a new way of experiencing relationship in our lives.
The emphasis is on learning together, versus helping or receiving help. If we have the courage to move towards self-reflection and self-awareness, relational patterns may be observed and identified. We help one another to see these patterns, and take action in trying new things. This quote from the Intentional Peer Support website describes it this way:
“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.”
All Connections Peer Support Center staff are required to take the IPS training, and then meet every week as staff to do what is called Co-Reflection. This is an opportunity to practice, and to receive feedback and to give feedback. In addition our staff is required to participate in quarterly training with IPS certified trainers.
We embrace and value highly our commitment to Intentional Peer Support. We are seeing the changes every week, in ourselves and others. The more risk one takes, the more benefit he or she receives from the experience. It’s both exciting and challenging!
How is IPS different from traditional service relationships?
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.