** Beginners Welcome **
~Join by computer: https://zoom.us/j/119362879
~Join by phone: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656
Enter Meeting ID: 119 362 879
~International callers: https://zoom.us/u/jkwt3wHh
*New Topic Every Week
*Learn and Practice
*Offer and Receive
*Peer Support in Action
About Intentional Peer Support:
IPS is a way of thinking about and being in purposeful relationships. In IPS, we use our relationships to look at things from new angles. We develop a better awareness of personal and relational patterns. We support and challenge each other as we try new things. IPS is different from traditional service relationships because it doesn’t ,start with the assumption of “a problem.” Instead, we learn to listen for how each of us has made sense of our experiences. Together, we create new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing. At the end of the day, it is really about building stronger, healthier communities.
(More information, trainings, workbook and resources available at www.intentionalpeersupport.org.)
What to expect
Each week we focus on a different topic from the IPS Workbook: Intentional Peer Support: An Alternative Approach by Shery Mead. (No purchase is necessary - the relevant text is made available at each meeting.) We use the reading to focus our attention and spark discussion about important concepts in peer support. We learn together from the reading and the experiences we share. We explore how we might apply what we are learning to the real issues in our lives and also to support each other to navigate our challenges meaningfully and well. Our aim is to build a supportive, mutually responsible peer community capable of negotiating different needs, values and views of reality with dignity, rights and personhood fully in tact for all concerned.
Group "Discomfort" Agreement
IPS encourages the use of 'Discomfort' Agreements, moreso that 'Comfort' Agreements. This is because learning new things is often uncomfortable. New learning usually requires sincere effort and a willingness to stretch beyond the known into the unknown. The IPS Discomfort Agreement acknowledges this challenge, as well as the temptation to quit when the going gets rough. the Discomfort Agreement thus supports us to stay with the process by helping us to think, intentionally, ahead of time, about the kind of environment we want to create in order to support and facilitate new learning.
Here's our working Discomfort Agreement for the Saturday Group on Zoom:
- One person talk at a time.
- Offer respect and dignity.
- Listen to understand and relate rather than to help or convert others.
- Participate to the level of your comfort (self-care).
- Keep the focus on learning and practicing Intentional Peer Support.
- Maintain a non-judgmental atmosphere.
- Don’t make assumptions or put words in people's mouths. Instead: ask, reality check, validate.
- There is no right or wrong here in the sense that sincere discussion and questions are welcomed. However, apparent power imbalances, unfairness or nonconsensual treatment of others can and should be respectfully questioned.
- When controversy arises, explore differing viewpoints with curiosity about the personal experiences that led others to see things the way they currently do.
- Work to transcend disagreement by learning about the realities of others and finding points of connection.
- Being respectful of modalities that others find useful and refrain from promoting or denigrating specific approaches.
- Stay away from debates about pharmaceuticals, healthcare or politics.
- At a minimum: agree to disagree
- “Stretch”: Step up if you tend to stay in the background, step back if you tend to take up a lot of space.
- “Ouch”: If it hurts say so.
- Be conscious of how you use power or privilege, as well as open to hearing from others about how they may experience you using it.
- Use power to support and grow relationships rather than to gain personal advantage or prestige.
- Don’t scapegoat or marginalize anyone.
- Promote equality, fairness and understanding.
- Reach out to include others who may have less power or privilege than you have.
- Some here may prefer to type in the chat box instead of speak out loud. You can access the chat box from the control panel at the top or bottom of your screen. If you don’t want your comments read out loud, please let us know. Otherwise, we try to read them in real time so they can be part of the conversation. Everyone is encouraged to pay attention to typed comments and read them.
- A major purpose of this group is to encourage conversation, create space for diverse viewpoints, and make sure everyone has a chance to speak. If you have something to say and someone else is speaking, please raise your hand. Other members are encouraged to notice to when someone has their hand raised and call attention to that in a sensitive way if the speaker doesn’t seem to notice. Group members are encouraged to bring bells or musical instruments and use them for this purpose if the someone has gone on for several minutes.
- We recognize that there are times if life where any one of us might feel the need to speak at length about matters that concern us. If that appears to be the case, anyone may request or suggest a breakout room where two or more members can have a private conversation. Alternatively, anyone may request or suggest that a particular issue be discussed further after the formal group meeting.
- Moderation of the group is shared by group members. At the end of each group we ask for a volunteer to moderate for the upcoming session. If that person is able to make it, we ask for volunteer to moderate when the next session starts. Those new to moderation are encouraged to try their hand at moderating once they become familiar with the group process. All group members are encouraged to use the peer support skills we are learning to support the moderator or to respectfully share needs or concerns that seem important to them.
But wait! There's more!
A Discomfort Agreement is not just something we make together as a group. It is also an agreement we make with ourselves. Intentional Peer Support is about embarking on a journey deep into the realm of human relationships. This journey entails a commitment to learning and growth - not just for others, but also for ourselves. From the very outset, therefore, each of us is encouraged to ask ourselves:
- What my 'defaults' when the going gets rough in my relationships with others?
- What do I tend to do when I feel scared, uncertain or overwhelmed?
- How does this usually work out for me?
- What usually happens in the relationship?
- What would I like to do differently in the future..?
But wait! There's even more!
Another thing the Discomfort Agreement does is to give us an opportunity to explore and deepen the relational potential of our peer support practice. A foundational tenet of IPS is that peer relationships have the potential to make outcomes possible that few of us could accomplish alone. Accordingly, the Discomfort Agreement invites us to consider how others might support us to achieve the learning and practice objectives we set for ourselves. For example, can they help us to:
- Stay with the learning/ practice process, remaining both true to our experience and respectful of others, when we feel uncomfortable.
- Keep our commitment to ourselves to try to do something different if/ when we fall back into old patterns.
- Step up when find something hard or feel like running away.
- Step back when we want to dominate or think we have all the answers.
If I carefully consider these issues, I may well come away with some specific requests I make can to other group members that will help them - and me - to notice when I'm stuck in old patterns and navigate them differently.
Hope to see you there! 😉😏