In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employment

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Origins of the IPS Model
  • IPS Principles
  • Literature Reviews of the Evidence Base for IPS
  • Seminal IPS Studies
  • Impact of Employment on General Health and Well-Being
  • Criticisms of IPS
  • Expanding IPS to Different Populations
  • Dissemination, Implementation, and Sustainability of IPS Services
  • Financing and Cost-Effectiveness
  • IPS Augmentations
  • Journals
  • Supported Employment Technical Assistance Centers
  • IPS Resources in Other Languages

Social Work Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employment
Gary R. Bond
  • LAST REVIEWED: 21 January 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 January 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0202


Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is a model of supported employment. IPS was developed for people who have a long-term severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depressive disorder, and who have difficulty functioning in important life domains, including employment. IPS is an individualized approach to helping clients find and keep permanent competitive jobs (also called “open employment”), defined as regular community jobs that anyone could apply for, paying a comparable wage that others receive to perform the same work (at least minimum wage). IPS is based on eight principles that provide guidance for practitioners offering this service. It differs in several respects from most other vocational approaches developed over the past century for people with disabilities. First, IPS is clearly described, with operational definitions concretely explained, in a practice manual and in a fidelity scale consisting of a checklist of specific criteria documenting whether a program is adhering to model principles. Second, the effectiveness of IPS for improving employment outcomes is well established through rigorous research studies. It is a practical, common-sense approach in which employment specialists (the term used for staff on an IPS team) help clients who want to work find jobs that suit their preferences and strengths. IPS does not involve screening for job readiness, nor is there an extended period of training and preparation for employment. IPS services are delivered by a team that typically includes at least two full-time employment specialists supervised by a team leader with IPS experience and sufficient time to provide intensive supervision, including field mentoring in job development. Despite substantial evidence for the effectiveness of IPS and for each of its core principles, several criticisms have been noted in the literature. Important considerations for IPS include its impact on general well-being; IPS implementation, financing, and cost-effectiveness; expansion to new populations; and IPS augmentations.

Introductory Works

The IPS model is well described in many journal publications, book chapters, and books. One source is Becker and Drake 2003, written by the model developers, Deborah Becker and Robert Drake. Swanson and Becker 2013 is the most up-to-date of several manuals written for practitioners. Drake, et al. 2012 is a comprehensive synthesis of IPS research. Druss 2014 and Bond and Drake 2014 provide brief summaries of IPS research and policy implications of IPS. Over the last decade, several journals have published special issues devoted to IPS, offering diverse perspectives written by researchers, practitioners, program leaders, economists, clients, and family members; these special issues are noted in the section on Journals.

  • Becker, D. R., and R. E. Drake. 2003. A working life for people with severe mental illness. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195131215.001.0001

    This monograph, authored by the developers of the IPS model, is an update of their 1993 book of the same name. Drawing on their extensive experience in implementing IPS programs, this book provides an overview of the rationale for their approach, with case examples.

  • Bond, G. R., and R. E. Drake. 2014. Making the case for IPS supported employment. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research 41:69–73.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10488-012-0444-6

    This brief report gives a quick overview of the IPS model, the empirical literature supporting its effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, and policy issues regarding the employment of people with severe mental illness.

  • Drake, R. E., G. R. Bond, and D. R. Becker. 2012. Individual Placement and Support: An evidence-based approach to supported employment. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199734016.001.0001

    This research monograph summarizes the IPS research base. It is the definitive resource for the IPS research literature through 2011.

  • Druss, B. G. 2014. Supported employment over the long term: From effectiveness to sustainability. American Journal of Psychiatry 171:1142–1144.

    DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14070900

    This editorial summarizes the IPS literature and notes the growing consensus among researchers and policy experts that IPS is cost-effective.

  • Swanson, S. J., and D. R. Becker. 2013. IPS supported employment: A practical guide. Lebanon, NH: Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center.

    This is a practitioner’s guide, written by one of the developers of the IPS model and an experienced IPS trainer.

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