As We Move Forward: Being Person Centered


PeopleRecently a term has re-emerged in the human services field. The term is “person centered”, and it is usually followed by a word like thinking or planning. Person centered is lifted up as the standard by which things involving people’s live should be measured. The term, as it is presently employed, is too vast for one brief article like this. I would like to try to establish a basis from which to consider person centered thinking.

First, I contend that person centered thinking has not been the norm in much of human history. History teaches that many civilizations have been based on compelling people to fit into rigid molds. Lives were often dictated solely by the circumstances of birth. While there have been occurrences of person centered thinking throughout history, I would like us to briefly consider the one we are most familiar with.

HappinessThe opening words of the document that forms the framework for the United States talks about certain truths that we hold as self-evident. These truths start from the belief in the equality of all persons and the fact that each of us has undeniable–I like the term inalienable–rights, which include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Everything that follows in that amazing document is designed to help each one of us reach toward our full potential. I believe that is the essence of being person centered.

Obviously, this document does not mean to imply that there will not be obstacles to overcome. It does not even mean to guarantee that everyone will be successful–hence the phrase “the pursuit of happiness.” To be truly person centered involves the risk that accompanies any true accomplishment.

To be person centered, then, implies that it is the right of each of us to dream, to strive, to fail, and to strive again. The equality of all people does not mean equality of abilities, physical, intellectual or social. It does not guarantee equality of opportunity to everyone. It does not guarantee equality or even fairness in outcomes.

OriginalPerson centered means that the best for each person must be at the core of everything the individual does or is done on their behalf. This is a noble goal, and it is truly worthy of our best efforts.

Consider how being person centered operates in your life and the lives of those you come in contact with. How has your life been improved through a person centered approach? How could person centered thinking make things better.

How comfortable are you with making the person centered approach the focal point of all your relationships? Think about this as we move forward.

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