MAPS is a planning process with a circle of supporters for clients who are in a changing situation, such as a person with disability who wants or needs to change due to entering the labour market or due to another turning point in life that requires reorientation.
MAPS explores the person's story, her/his dreams and nightmares and her/his talents. It is the aim to see what the person needs in order to be able to bring her/his talents into the community. It is, therefore, important to explore what is really important to the person in her/his life. The concrete action plan is only the next step.
MAPS was also developed by M. Forrest and J. Pearpoint in the 1980s in the United States. Initially, MAPS was the abbreviation for 'Making Action Plans'; today the authors only use the short form. Therefore, 'map' can also be seen as the support you use for orientation purposes.
220.127.116.11 The seven MAPS-steps
They were first used as a tool for helping disabled children to integrate into mainstream schools, but they are now used more widely in person-centred planning with children and adults.
A MAP is typically used in a meeting lasting 2-3 hours with the person and those close to her. It can also be used one-to-one. If used in a meeting, it is essential that there are two facilitators – one to guide the process and the second to record it graphically. The MAP process has eight steps.
To start a MAP it is important to start with a warm-up for the group. The facilitator asks people to think of words or images to describe a map. The answers they come up with, such as “helps people to find their way through unknown territory” or “helps people to see where they are now and where they need to go”, sum up the point of the meeting.
Step 1: What is the history?
This step allows the individual and those who have known her a long time to describe what has happened to her in the past. Often, the past is a revelation to others at the meeting and goes a long way to making sense of the present. Other people become more aware of how much loss the person has suffered in her life, or perhaps of how much of her life has been spent in segregated settings.
Step 2: What are your dreams?
Dreaming is central to the MAP process. The person is invited to share her dream, and other people may contribute their ideas with the person’s permission. Sometimes, people will choose to dream metaphorically. One person said that her dream was encapsulated in a pair of ballet shoes. It was not that she wished to be a ballerina, but that she wanted to have the lightness, speed and agility of a dancer in all the work that she did. The image of ballet shoes had been powerful to her as a child, and was still powerful in a different way in her adult life. For other people, dreaming is more about aspirations – they may want to travel the world or have a house by the sea. Whichever way the dreams are expressed; they provide a very strong focus for the rest of the process.
Step 3: What are your nightmares?
Just as dreaming gives the group something to work towards, naming nightmares gives the group something to work away from. Although this step can be difficult for people, it is useful in allowing the group and the individual to express their fears and have them acknowledged. It may become clear that the person is very close to their nightmare now, or that the most likely service ‘solution’ such as putting them back into an institution would be a return to the nightmare.
No more than 5 minutes will be spent on this step of the MAPS process – its purpose is to acknowledge the nightmare, not to dwell on it. A MAP is more effective when it shows us where to avoid.
Step 4: Who is the person?
The facilitator asks people to brainstorm the words which occur to them when they think of the person – words which sum up her character. This is often a very affirming process for the person and her family.
Step 5: What are their gifts, strengths and talents?
The facilitator asks the group to describe the things which draw them to the person; the person’s gifts. The group go on to talk about the person’s strengths and talents. This step reverses the usual process of focusing on the person’s problems, and instead looks for the positive things that can be built on in the action plan.
Step 6: What does the person need (to achieve the dream and avoid the nightmare)?
In this step, people start to think about the people and resources needed to help the person move towards their dream and away from their nightmare.
Step 7: Action Plan
The Action Plan specifically sets out who will do what by when.
Finally, the planning person can invite the participants of the support circle to sign the MAPS poster. The facilitator closes the meeting by giving every participant from the support circle
the possibility to express a moment of appreciation or feeling about the MAPS meeting. MAPS not always has an action plan. Sometimes the result needs to settle. Usually it takes a few actions for the main persons to be able to reveal and yield their gifts outside the support circle; very often, more action planning is necessary. Sometimes the MAPS process makes it
clear that the support circle needs to find ways to create the conditions for the planning person to utilise her/his skills. In these situations, a new planning meeting with the PATH process might make sense.
18.104.22.168 Example MAPS-planning with a disabled person
Between the ages of 8 and 12, Bill lived in a special hospital and came home in the holidays. His sister, Ethel, used to visit sometimes and his parents went down every fortnight. He remembers going to the park to watch football. Bill didn‘t know why he was in the hospital. He remembers some of the nurses and he also remembers singing Scottish songs with uncle Desmond. When he came back from the hospital he attended a special school which he enjoyed. Since he left he has been to six different day centres.
Things began to go wrong when Bill felt that he could not get any privacy. One of the staff was reporting on him to his parents. This same member of staff locked him in a chalet when they went on holiday. That holiday was disastrous: Bill got food poisoning and remembers being treated like an outcast. These incidents led to Bill‘s retiring from the centre for four years. During this time, he was looked after by his Gran. They both enjoyed this and like a ‘good barny‘. However, it was a difficult time for his mother. Sometimes Bill did not want to come home. She felt that she was juggling a lot and her sister died.
Scottish folk singer
Playing the bagpipes
To be an ordinary 40 year old
To stay a night with Cran
making his own choices
to go bowling
to be able to read
to be left alone
everyone to be wiped out
to lose friends and be lonely
being on own with Cran and
family members dying
look for other activities in community e.g. football social club
adult education (Social worker and dad)
find male friend to take Bill out (Social worker)
folk clubs (Social worker)
some help around relaxing (psychologist)
help with crossing the road (parents and day centre staff)
more time at respite house (keyworker)
Eventually Bill returned to the day centre three days a week but recently he has not wanted to go. Things have got a bit better since they had a meeting about it at the centre.
The English image below shows how a MAP process can be illustrated in practice.
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Illustration 4: Send Guidance: Person-Centred Planning Toolkit, http://www.oldham.gov.uk/
 H. Sanderson, Person-centred practices, MAPS, 2012 http://www.helensandersonassociates.co.uk/person-centred-practice/maps/
 H. Sanderson: Person-centred practices, MAPS 2012, http://www.helensandersonassociates.co.uk/person-centred-practice/maps/
 O’BRIEN, John, PEARPOINT, Jack & KAHN, Linda: The PATH & MAPS Handbook. Person-Centered Ways to build Community. Toronto: Inclusion Press, 2010