"These are people just like us who can work": Overcoming clinical resistance and shifting views in the implementation of Individual Placement and Support (IPS)

Adm Policy Ment Health. 2022 Sep;49(5):848-860. doi: 10.1007/s10488-022-01204-3. Epub 2022 Jul 5.


Purpose: Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is a recovery-based approach to support people with mental health difficulties back into employment. Embedding of IPS within the mental health Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) is a key component of IPS fidelity; however, few studies have examined how those involved with IPS implementation navigate this process. This article explores how IPS Employment Specialists (ES) and Occupational Therapist (OT) Managers integrated and embedded IPS within traditionally-oriented MDTs as part of a national reform program in the Republic of Ireland.

Methods: The study design was qualitative, descriptive with data collected through three focus groups with 17 IPS ESs and 11 OT Managers. Data were analyzed using thematic synthesis.

Results: Three key themes emerged from analysis. The first characterizes the context into which IPS landed, described as one marked by clinical resistance, doubt, and fear of risk. The second explores the strategies and factors that helped with the introduction of IPS into Irish mental health services. These included strategies, such as providing education and information about IPS and reassuring the MDT about IPS governance and IPS ES' competencies. The evidenced-based nature of IPS and its attached accountabilities through IPS fidelity measures were perceived to be an important factor in its acceptance. The final theme encapsulates perceptions of how IPS impacted on the MDTs' views of people with mental health difficulties. Findings suggest a shift in the ways in which MDTs view their clients. Initial fears about work capacity and risk shifted towards seeing people beyond the label of 'service user' and their diagnosis.

Conclusions: It is contended that IPS is an approach that allows practitioners to engage with real recovery-practice and may be one key to unlocking how a recovery approach can truly trickle down and embed itself within mental health service provision and support mental health system reform.

Keywords: Individual Placement and Support (IPS); Mental health service reform; Multi-disciplinary teams (MDT); Recovery; Republic of Ireland.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Employment, Supported*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / psychology
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational