Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams encourage individuals to consider recovery goals that involve getting a job and/or returning to school, and then help them in those efforts. Research has shown that the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of supported employment to be the evidence-based practice in helping people succeed with competitive employment goals. To this end, ACT is to have at least one Employment and Education Specialist who leads the charge in providing employment and education services, with an emphasis on IPS practice philosophy.

Following the principles of the IPS model, ACT Employment Specialists promptly begin working with individuals who express interest in returning to work – they operate with a “zero exclusion” approach. One of the first activities may be completing a Career Profile, which may take several visits and helps understand the person’s preferences, wishes, dreams, and past experiences and skills. Employment specialists are also assessing for preferences around levels of disclosure, which in turn can determine the type and level of involvement of the Employment specialist. The actual seeking of employment is person-centered and ideally takes advantage of previous and new job development activities. Once the person has a job, there is a plan created and enacted for providing ongoing support, which may include on-the-job coaching. Employment specialists are also expected to have a foundational knowledge of how work may impact benefits, as well as work incentive programs. The ACT team, as a whole, helps deliver a range of employment and educational services and supports.

The Employment Specialist on ACT may differ from someone within a stand-alone IPS program in two major ways: 1) Along with the team, the Employment Specialist may be directing some efforts toward engaging people around the idea of work – having accurate knowledge of how work impacts benefits can be particularly helpful in this regard, as well as basic motivational interviewing skills; and 2) As an Employment and Educational Specialist, there is effort to helping people return to school if that is their goal (within IPS, the Employment Specialist may rely on the mental health team assist more around school goals).

Employment and Education Specialists on ACT will have minimal impact on such outcomes if they are not used within their respective area of specialty. We recommend that at least 80% of their time in a given week (daily team meetings aside) is spent in the context of delivering a broad range of employment and educational services.

Learn More about the Supportive Employment and Education Services and the role of the SEE Specialists through these resources. Be sure to also visit our IPS resources.