By Torrie Baker, Trilogy IPS Supported Employment Program Manager
Trilogy recently hosted an Open House at our Edgewater location to promote our nationally recognized Supported Employment Program. Our Supported Employment team in the Chicago neighborhood of Edgewater actively assists clients with finding employment in the community and is funded through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Illinois State Senator Heather Steans attended the event and spoke about the importance of the program not only for the more than 200 people that Trilogy has assisted with finding employment, but for the community as a whole. Torrie Baker, Trilogy’s IPS Supported Employment Program Manager, shared her thoughts on the role employment plays in recovery:
“For the past eight years, I have witnessed firsthand the overwhelmingly positive impact that employment can have on a person’s quality of life. An individual’s entire outlook can change the moment they hear the words, “We’d like to offer you… [Insert title of position you have been seeking for days, weeks, or even months].” Work is important to all of us. It provides us with a sense of purpose and direction. Often work challenges us and allows us the opportunity to grow, hone a new skill, meet a friend, or create lasting connections. And last, but certainly not least, working provides us with the means to support ourselves and provides us with an avenue to becoming an active and contributing member of society.
All of the aforementioned reasons and motivations are what makes the Supported Employment Program at Trilogy so important. The Supported Employment Program provides individualized, client driven services to persons with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. Gone are the days the days of the traditional ’face and place‘ vocational supports model, where clients were merely placed in jobs just because a position happened to be available. Individuals who are referred to Employment Services at Trilogy begin the process of searching for a job by completing not only a detailed assessment of their preferences, skills and interests, but by also completing a detailed employment search plan and retention plan with the assistance of their entire mental health treatment team. The goal is to assist the client in identifying what his or her dream job would be and then creating a plan to find that job and keep it.
Trilogy’s employment program utilizes the Dartmouth College researched and developed evidence based practice known as Individual Placement and Supports (IPS). The model is guided by eight principles including: advocacy for an individual’s desire to work; supporting personal preferences; providing time unlimited job supports; and close integration with an individual’s mental health team members. Dartmouth’s research gives evidence to the success of the IPS model. In just one of the studies completed by researchers, 22 randomized controlled trials saw significantly higher employment rates (56%) for persons with mental illness participating in an IPS supported employment program versus individuals in a traditional vocational program. Dartmouth’s website (http://www.dartmouthips.org/) offers more evidence for IPS, and an abundance of user friendly and easy to understand resources regarding the IPS model. I am proud to say that Trilogy has been ranked as one of the most successful IPS programs in the state of Illinois. We currently partner with more than twenty businesses across Chicago that support the IPS model including Mariano’s, Target, Maaco Automotive, and Home Depot.
Trilogy’s Supported Employment Program supports the organization’s mission by assisting individuals in their recovery from serious mental illness. Employment is a powerful tool in one’s recovery, as it can foster personal growth in multiple facets of a person’s life. As mentioned earlier, having a job provides people with a sense of purpose. That purpose might just be the motivating factor that provides a person with the self esteem they need to get out of bed and start making life choices that will improve their overall wellness.
Employment is powerful and it is as integral to a person’s recovery as individual therapy. It has been my distinct pleasure to spend the majority of my professional career assisting individuals in achieving their goals of finding employment.”