Maryland Positive Behavior Support Training

Balancing What is Important to a Person With Health and Safety Concerns

Stones balancing on one another to indicate that it is important to balance what is important to a person with their health and safety.

Person-centered strategies help people learn more about what is important to a person who is receiving services. Balancing what is important to a person’s life while still making sure that plans also address what is important for the health and safety of both the person and others is a key part of providing person-centered supports.

Many people want to feel that they are valued members of their community. Feeling a sense of purpose and meaning in life can greatly improve a person's physical and emotional health. These feelings and beliefs are just as important as any health and safety concerns that arise. Everyone experiences challenges that can impact health and wellbeing. How we support people through these challenges helps them to live their best lives.

Supporting people to achieve a meaningful life can sometimes result in feelings of conflict and stress for the person providing support. This occurs when we believe that the person’s desires may be a danger to their health or safety or for someone else. At times, the decisions that are made to encourage people to seek out what is important to them can result in problems if something goes wrong.  One way to address this natural tension about risk is to consider the balance of what is important to and for a person.

  • Dara wants to go to shopping on her own, but her mother is worried that someone will take advantage of her kindness when she is alone. Dara, with support from her mother and her staff, invites a neighbor who attends the same church to meet her at the corner bus stop so that they can go shopping together.
  • Javier loves dessert after dinner and snacking between meals but decides to begin following a weight loss plan. Javier and a group of friends are going on vacation together soon and the goal is to be able to wear a favorite swimsuit at the beach.
  • Nila does not like going to school but knows that if she graduates from high school, she can become an intern at a computer company in town.
  • Mary loves computer games and graphic design, and she knows it is Important For her to finish school so she can work in her dream job next year.


Write down and share with another person what is important for you related to:

  • Health care outcomes that you know are important for you to follow
  • Steps you use to calm down when you are angry or upset
  • How you manage challenges related to finances

Describe one way to balance what is important to you and what is important for you based on your notes above.

The information about what is Important To and for people is adapted from The Learning Community for Person-Centered Practices .