Intentional Peer Support Model
Peer support has become a recognized and valued tool in promoting
resiliency, recovery, and wellness in mental health. Recognizing the
value of several different models or types of peer support programs
available in the United States, Nebraska selected the
Peer Support Model" via a consumer selection
committee in 2009. The Intentional Peer Support Model was authored by Shery Mead and over
100 people in Nebraska have been trained in this model. Because we’ve received questions
about Intentional Peer Support (IPS) and how it works, The Kim Foundation asked the
Administrator for the Office of Consumer Affairs in Nebraska’s Division of Behavioral
Health, Carol Coussons de Reyes, to share with us her thoughts concerning Intentional
Peer Support, including history, use, and purpose. Thank you, Carol, we appreciate
For many of us, personal relationships are confusing for two reasons: one, traumatic experience and two,
interactions with behavioral health systems. At least 70% of adults in the US have had some traumatic
experience*. Examples of trauma are acts of violence, sexual abuse, grief and loss, neglect, war, etc.
For some, experiences with the behavioral health system itself can result in trauma or re-traumatization.
Among some trauma survivors, relationships can become frightening to a point that all a person can see is
their own personal story when interacting with others. Understanding other people have needs can be quite
foreign. Simple healthy relationship concepts, like boundaries, may be missing from our lives.
In behavioral health systems, we encounter people that are so willing to solve our problems we may forget we can
solve them ourselves- we become dependent on systems. Think about the hospital: someone tells you where to eat,
when to eat, when to brush your teeth, when to go to group, when to take your medicine. The foundation is not one
built on making choices.
The crux of the work of IPS is focused on the four tasks or principles: Connection, Worldview, Mutuality, and Moving
Towards (Shery Mead Consulting, 2010). These four tasks are honed in a process
called co-supervision, where an individual practices the skills with peers. With these acquired skills, we move towards
relationships within the community and we learn to make our own choices.”
Rather than ‘what is wrong’, the focus shifts to creating new ways of healing so an individual deliberately and
intentionally choses to focus on ‘what is right for my healing.’ Shery Mead stated “Peer support is a culture
of healing. As people practice new ways of being together through even the most difficult times, possibilities
for breaking old patterns and creating new opportunities are endless.”
*“How to Manage Trauma”, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, 2012