The Relationship Map creating pathways for trust, connection and compassion

A couple of weeks ago, I had my first opportunity to participate in a Person Centered Thinking (PCT) training, delivered in person. One of the exercises we work through together is the relationship map. As someone who receives support services, I have my own awareness of the pitfalls that can be painful when creating a relationship map. Those of us with disabilities often have an extensive list of medical professionals and support workers to populate the “People whose job it is to support me” section of the relationship map and it fills up quickly and often needs more space, while the areas for friends and family can be sparse or overlap with people who are paid support.

Wheeling from table to table, I noticed many people were stumped at first, struggling with the idea of grouping together people in their lives and figuring out who fits where. I also noticed maps with only 2 or 3 names written in. As I checked in with participants and listened, I was reminded that all of us deal with imbalance when it comes to relationships. As a facilitator I recognized what an important and tender opportunity for compassion and connection the Relationship Map exercise can offer.

Exploring possibilities with people to help them identify the relationships in their lives by asking questions like “What types of people make you feel happy?”, “Who do you most enjoy spending time with?” or “If you had a whole day/morning to spend with a new friend, what are some things you might like to do together?” is important and can be instrumental in building hope and sparking creativity. As a remote Planning Live facilitator, I am sure to remind participants that fur friends and family count too, while getting the chance to introduce them to my cat Emmet via zoom.

If you support someone with a disability I would love to invite you to try completing a Relationship Map yourself, with your children, family or friends. It can be a really wonderful way to learn more, connect and foster compassion for others and the ‘shoes’ they walk or roll in.  So when you have a chance to help someone you support explore and create their own Relationship Mat you are able to hold a compassionate, curious and fun space for them to discover, build connection, trust and understanding making way for positive change.

Click here to learn more and download your own Relationship Map Template