Ask An Advocate Q&A |

Ask An Advocate: What Does the Term “Person-Centered” Mean?

Q: I was recently told by a provider that supports my 28-year-old daughter that even though her county documents have a goal that she should exercise, they don’t have to make her do it. They said they were being person-centered and if she doesn’t want to exercise, she doesn’t have to. Is that true?


A: There is a lot of confusion about what being “person-centered” actually means. Many people misinterpret it to mean that the person can do whatever they want to because it is their choice. This is only part of the equation. Person-centered actually means creating a balance of things that mean the most to a person with those things that keep the person healthy or safe. This means that it isn’t about forcing a person to exercise if they don’t want to, but rather finding ways to make the exercise something other than a “must do” activity. For instance, many of us exercise with a friend, because while we might not like the exercise, we like the company of our friend. This is the same balance families and providers should try to strike. This sometimes means trying a few different things! For more information about being person-centered, or about making a plan that is person-centered, call The Arc Minnesota at 952-920-0855 or email us at