PATH and MAPS: Person-Centered Planning
Person-centered planning is a set of collaborative strategies used to help people recognize their abilities and talents, and consider how they might connect and contribute within their communities.
To do a PATH or a MAP, the focus person gathers friends, family, and others who know them well for a 2-3 hour meeting in which the group reflects and plans. The first step is to explore what the focus person can do and likes to do. Then, the goal is to look for or create opportunities and resources to develop those interests and abilities, which will then support their competence, connection to others, and meaningful contributions to their community. These planning strategies can also be used effectively with organizations to assess strengths set new directions.
Each meeting is led by two facilitators – one to guide the conversation, and one to record ideas. The thoughts and plans of the group are recorded in a mix of images and words, which is a powerful way to focus attention, aid communication, express ideas and create a permanent reminder of the ideas that were most meaningful.
PATH is a strategy that is designed to move people forward who are stuck and need a plan or direction; MAPS focuses on assessing gifts and dreams for people who may be uncertain or overwhelmed and need to stop and take stock of where they are at. MAPS could also be used in a school setting as a way to help students appreciate the diversity in their classroom.
Two cautions: PATH and MAPS facilitators should be trained facilitators. There are a lot of elements and perspectives that make PATH and MAPS effective, and the parts all contribute to the whole. Also, it is better to have facilitators who are not connected to the focus person, to avoid assumptions and keep their minds open to new possibilities.
PATH and MAPS facilitators can be found by contacting Community Living Winnipeg. School divisions often have trained facilitators available to students.
The Inclusion Network in Toronto has many great resources to support PATH, MAPS, and other approaches to person-centered planning and community inclusion.
This website at Cornell University has some good information on what person-centered planning means and how it works. If it interests you, Community Living Winnipeg is a good organization to help you find someone qualified to lead a session.