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Cornell University. ILR School. Employment and Disability Institute

Course 5c: MAPS

MAPs (& Path) is a tool to help someone create and plan their own life. The MAP serves as the compass for setting direction toward a positive future. MAPs begins with a story- the history of the person’s life. The history will surface important milestones and identify future hopes that will serve as the foundation upon which the rest of the process unfolds and action is charted.

Listening is at the core of MAPs. The role of the facilitator is to help create a safe space in which people can really listen with their heart and soul to the voice of the person with whom the planning is being done. The facilitator must create the space that honors the stories that will be told and the hopes and ambitions that will be shared. He or she must follow the ethical guideline that stresses, “do no harm.” Facilitators can shatter dreams, control the process, and manipulate outcomes. Good facilitators recognize the potential for this and work with a partner to safeguard against these threats. The most experienced facilitators recognize that they should never work alone. It is the role of the facilitators to balance dreams with steps that are doable and that can and will be implemented by a group of people who are committed to working together. MAPs, (and Path) is a tool that is built upon the premise that “together we’re better.”

There is a series of 8 questions that serve to facilitate and map the listening process. All of the questions must be asked but if necessary, the order in which they are asked may be altered based on the dynamics of the group:

  1. What is a map?
    • Allows the facilitator to welcome the group, to review the purpose of the gathering and to give people a general description of what they can expect
  2. What is the person's history or story?
    • Provides everyone in the room an opportunity to contribute along the way as the story unfolds
  3. What are your dreams?
    • Critical question so that everyone involved knows where he or she is headed when it comes time to do the hard work of developing a plan of action
  4. What are your nightmares?
    • Serves as the guideposts for the journey so that planning can incorporate strategies to avoid creating, or recreating, the nightmare in someone's life while heading toward the desired future
  5. Who is the person?
    • Brainstorming, group participants are asked to use words that come into their mind that best describes the person with whom the planning is being conducted
    • The focus person, this time, is asked to listen
  6. What are the person's talents, gifts, and strengths?
    • Provides the opportunity to present a multi-faceted picture of the person that is based on capacity and contribution
  7. What does the person need?
    • Participants are drawn to consider what it will take in terms of people and resources to make the dream become a reality
  8. What is the plan of action?
    • Participants use this step to identify the specific steps, actions and chart responsibility for actions that are needed to mobilize the plan toward the person's desired dream

The following graphic, developed by Jack Pearpoint, (1992), depicts the eight questions, each one represented in eight individual circles that form a mandala. There are arrows that lead from the first circle to the last circle. The eighth circle leads to the center of the mandala, or the heart of the circle where the focus person is represented by the symbol of a heart.

Jack Pearpoint's Eight Questions

For more information contact:
Jack Pearpoint
Inclusion Press
47 Indian Trail
Toronto, ON M6R 1Z8
(416) 658-5363