Community-Based Positive Supports

What are Positive Supports?

The term “Positive Supports” refers to practices that include three major elements. These practices are driven by values, use data to show they are effective, and are integrated to improve quality of life and social and emotional wellness.

silhouette of the state of Minnesota

Values Driven

The state of Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) refers to Positive Support Practices that are based on research and are driven by the person’s values as well as that of their family, caregivers, and community. Positive Support Practices include embedded values that …

  • Reflect an emphasis on person-centeredness, diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural competence, and
  • Empower the child or adult, family or caregiver and/or the larger cultural community network to make the cultural adaptations needed in each planning context

Demonstrate Effectiveness

Practices that have been proven to be effective at improving social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health outcomes for people. These evidence-based and promising practices are based on ongoing assessment and monitoring at individual, family, and/or agency levels.

Positive Supports Integration

Rarely does one type of positive support meet the needs of a person. As a result, positive supports are often Integrated with one or more practices chosen by the person and/or their family and team to best support the person’s unique strengths and characteristics.

You may not be familiar with all of the positive supports that are available since some practices are more common at different ages and for different populations.

Some Examples of Positive Supports

Applied behavior Analysis or ABA is used to teach skills such as communication, self-care, communication and social skills, and academics. The practice relies on the principles of learning theory to prevent challenging behavior, teach skills, and improve quality of life. Different forms or models of ABA have evolved over time to support children and adults. A few examples include Discrete Trial Training, Pivotal Response Treatment, and the Early Start Denver Model.

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) improves outcomes for people with severe mental illness and may be more likely to be at-risk of hospitalization and other negative life outcomes including possible involvement in the criminal justice system. The practice involves forming a multidisciplinary team including community outreach and action planning.

Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, is considered evidenced based, it has a line of research supporting its effectiveness. This practice can help supporting people with a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug usage problems, improve marriage and couples relationships, and to address challenges associated with other mental illnesses. Cognitive behavior therapy helps people change the way they think about challenges in their lives and alter patterns of behavior. The process includes a therapist who works with the person to identify negative thinking and respond to issues in a more proactive manner.

A person-centered planning process that can be used to support people with disabilities or mental health issues with their families. LifeCourse tools are used to help children and adults and their families organize ideas, think about their values, and identify goals for improving quality of life. Parents, case managers, mental health professionals, teachers, family members and friends, and anyone interested work together in exploring ways to help a person navigate their life and advocate for changes in supports as needed.

A strategy that involves focusing one's awareness on the present moment. Mindfulness helps people to accept thoughts and feelings and observe what they are thinking and feeling. When a person achieves this mental state and practices it over time, it can help them manage strong emotions, and decrease anxiety, stress, and depression.

Motivational interviewing is an evidence based practice that provides a collaborative and goal-oriented approach for resolving internal thoughts and feelings that make it hard to make changes and to find reasons to make these positive changes in life. This approach helps a person strengthen a personal motivation for working on a specific goal. The focus is on helping people explore their own reasons for change while creating a setting that creates a sense of acceptance and compassion.

Three elements of person-centered practices:

  • Person-Centered Strategies can be used by anyone to help them learn about what brings them joy and makes life worth living. These tools are also used to find out what is important to a person as well as understanding their needs for health, safety, and well-being.
  • Person-Centered Planning is a process that is used to create actions for creating a positive and meaningful life that builds on interests and strengths. There are different methods that can be used to help a person create their dreams for a better future.
  • Person-Centered Organizational Changes address how services and supports are planned and delivered. Changes that are made include fixing policies, adding ongoing opportunities for learning, and building community supports. Services for people across the lifespan are changed in ways that improve quality of life outcomes.

A framework used to improve the quality of a person’s life and prevent or decrease challenging social interactions and behaviors. The tools and strategies used in positive behavior support encourage social and communication skills and involve changing social settings to prevent challenging behaviors. Positive behavior support is based on research from areas including biomedical and behavioral science. Research also guides how positive behavior support is implemented in education and human service settings using a tiered model with interventions that gradually increase based on each person's unique needs. The universal level, or tier one, includes interventions for improving the quality of life and social interactions for everyone within a provider setting. The second tier involves monitoring HCBS data to identify problems that a person might have as early as possible and to intervene when challenges are still minor. The third tier is used to create individualized plans for each person who needs more intense supports.

A system of care is a coordinated network of community-based services and supports designed to meet the challenges of children and youth with serious mental health needs and their families. These partnerships of families, youth, public organizations and private service providers address challenging behavior by addressing the mental health services and support needs and building on the strengths of a child, young person, or adult. These systems are also developed around the principles of being child-centered, family-driven, strength-based, and culturally competent.

A process created to support children, young people, and adults with mental health needs and challenging behavior and their families in navigating the different service systems involved in their lives. Each of these services require parents or caregivers to complete forms, attend meetings, and respond to requests related to services. Juvenile justice, children and family services, special education, mental health, and developmental disabilities are all examples of these different services. The wraparound plan is mean to help youth and their parents by improving service coordination. Wraparound planning is a team-based approach that is child and family driven. Team members include natural supports (friends, family members, and people who know the child or young person well). Individuals from formal supports might include a parole officer, counselor, psychiatrist, or special education teacher. The goal of wraparound is to assess the child and family strengths in order to build a plan of support that will improve quality of life.

Refers to evidence-based practices that assume that children and adults have a history of trauma and that this trauma may have an impact on their behavior and quality of life. Understanding the impact of trauma and creating strategies for supporting people responding to memories of past trauma in their lives can be achieved in different ways. Examples include different types of trauma-informed practices include trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy, cognitive restructuring, and cognitive processing therapy.