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Individual Placement and Support (IPS)


Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is a model of supported employment specifically designed for people with severe mental illness. It aims to integrate vocational services with mental health treatment through a team-based approach. The primary goal of IPS is to help individuals achieve competitive employment in regular work settings by providing personalized and long-term support.

Key Takeaways

  1. Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is an evidence-based approach to supported employment that helps people with mental illness promptly find and maintain competitive jobs in their communities.
  2. IPS focuses on the principles of competitive employment, individualized job search, and ongoing support for both the employee and the employer, emphasizing the importance of integrating employment with mental health treatment.
  3. Research has shown that IPS is more effective than traditional vocational rehabilitation methods, leading to higher rates of employment, increased earnings, and improved quality of life for individuals with mental health conditions.


The VA benefits term, Individual Placement and Support (IPS), is important because it represents a crucial evidence-based approach in assisting veterans with disabilities, particularly those with mental health conditions, in obtaining and maintaining competitive employment.

As a key component of VA’s vocational rehabilitation services, IPS fosters social and economic integration for veterans, contributing to their overall well-being and quality of life.

By collaborating with potential employers, mental health professionals, and support networks, IPS plays an essential role in tailoring services that directly align with each veteran’s unique abilities, preferences, and goals, ultimately empowering them to reach their full potential and achieve long-term vocational success.


The primary purpose of the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model within the realm of VA benefits is to empower veterans through increasing their access to competitive and gainful employment. This model is particularly crucial for veterans experiencing mental health challenges such as post-traumatic stress disorder, as it aids in their successful reintegration into civilian life.

By assisting these individuals in finding meaningful work that suits their unique skill set and interests, IPS helps to instill a sense of confidence and independence, which in turn greatly contributes to their overall mental wellness and long-term recovery process. IPS is tailored to the specific needs and goals of each veteran, making it a highly individualized and flexible approach.

The model leans on a collaborative network of multidisciplinary professionals such as VA vocational rehabilitation specialists, case managers, and mental health care providers, as each plays a crucial role in ensuring the veteran’s successful job placement and retention. Additionally, IPS values rapid job search and placement, ultimately reducing the stress and anxiety often associated with prolonged periods of unemployment.

By fostering stability and a sense of purpose, the IPS model is an indispensable tool in improving the quality of life and long-term outcomes for veterans navigating the often-daunting transition to civilian life.

Examples of Individual Placement and Support (IPS)

Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is a model of supported employment designed to help individuals with severe mental illness find and maintain competitive employment. Here are three real-world examples of IPS implementation:

Thresholds, Chicago, Illinois:Thresholds is a non-profit organization in Chicago that has integrated the IPS model into its mental health services. They offer assistance to individuals with mental illness in finding and maintaining competitive jobs in the community. Through IPS, Thresholds’ staff provide ongoing support, vocational training, coaching, and job development. This has resulted in significant success in helping clients find and maintain competitive employment, improving their quality of life and community integration.

New Hampshire’s IPS Supported Employment Center:The IPS Supported Employment Center is a collaborative project between Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. Established in 2003, the center provides training, consultation, technical assistance, and program evaluations to mental health agencies involved in IPS implementation. By providing resources and support, the center has helped over 75 mental-health programs in New Hampshire and 26 other states successfully adopt the evidence-based IPS model.

South Carolina’s IPS Program:South Carolina’s Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) adopted IPS as the standard for supported employment services in

SCDMH has since partnered with South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department (SCVRD) to train IPS specialists throughout the state, resulting in remarkable employment outcomes for individuals with severe mental illness. In addition to job placement and assistance, the program provides on-the-job coaching, skills training, and coordination between mental health providers and employers to ensure successful integration of the clients into the workforce.

FAQ: Individual Placement and Support (IPS)

What is Individual Placement and Support (IPS)?

Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is an evidence-based approach to supported employment for people with serious mental health conditions. The primary goal of IPS is to assist individuals in finding and maintaining competitive employment that aligns with their preferences, skills, and abilities.

How does IPS differ from traditional vocational rehabilitation?

IPS focuses on rapid job search, targeting competitive employment opportunities, and providing ongoing, individualized support for clients. Traditional vocational rehabilitation often involves lengthy assessments, training programs, and sheltered workshops before attempting to find competitive employment.

What are the main principles of the IPS model?

The main principles of the IPS model include a focus on client preferences, rapid job search, competitive employment, integrated services, and personalized benefits counseling. Other key components include ongoing support and collaboration with mental health treatment providers.

Who is eligible for IPS services?

Individuals with serious mental health conditions who have a desire to work are typically eligible for IPS services. This includes individuals with diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How can veterans access IPS services?

Veterans can access IPS services through their local VA medical center or community-based outpatient clinic. They should discuss their interest in pursuing employment with their mental health care provider, who can refer them to an appropriate program.

What kind of support can clients expect from IPS employment specialists?

IPS employment specialists provide a range of support services, including job search assistance, resume development, interview coaching, and guidance in navigating job accommodations. They also help clients coordinate their employment goals with their mental health treatment and address any barriers to successful employment.

Are there any limitations to the IPS model?

While the IPS model has demonstrated success in helping individuals with serious mental health conditions find and maintain employment, it may not be a suitable fit for everyone. Some individuals may require more intensive support or training to develop job skills. However, IPS aims to minimize such barriers by focusing on client preferences and providing personalized support.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Supported Employment Services
  • Job Development and Coaching
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Work Incentives Programs
  • Employment Integration

Sources for More Information