The Person-Centered Planning Education Site
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Course 4: Common Threads Among Person-Centered Planning Tools

Person-centered planning was “invented” in an effort to offer people who request and receive human services the opportunity to describe and define the characteristics and conditions of life that represent for them a desirable present and future. It was “invented” in an effort to offer people who deliver those services an opportunity to learn and to grow alongside the person who is at the core of the planning process. It was “invented” in an effort to influence the way in which the systems that hold up these services respond to the requests and desires of their primary customers. Person-centered planning was created so that we might remove the artificial boundaries of our communities to make welcome room for every one of our neighbors… everyday.

Several distinct approaches to person-centered planning have been developed over the past twenty years*:

  • 1980 ~ Jack Yates develops the Individual Service Design
  • 1987 ~ Beth Mount develops Personal Futures Planning
  • 1989 ~ Marsha Forest and Evelyn Lusthaus develop MAPS and Circles
  • 1992 ~ Michael Smull and Susan Burke Harrison develop Essential Lifestyle Planning
  • 1995 ~ Jack Pearpoint, John O’Brien and Marsha Forest develop PATH

*Descriptions of the individual tools from 1987 forward can be found within this website


Each tool has been built upon the following foundation of belief:

  • Person-centered planning is a means for uncovering what is already there: the essence and extraordinary gifts and capacities of a person
    …it is about sharing life with one another
    …it is about sharing power and giving up control over another human being
  • Person-centered planning assumes that the person and those who love the person are the primary authorities on the person’s life direction, as such the person is the driver of the process
  • Person-centered planning is the beginning of the journey of on-going learning through the shared action that results from participation in planning and working together
  • Person-centered planning intends to shatter myths about people who have been given disability labels and to foster inclusive communities
  • Person-centered planning relies on skilled facilitation in developing and moving the plan forward
  • Person-centered planning requires systems to respond in flexible and meaningful ways relative to the unique interests and needs of the focus person.