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The first 'Circle of Friends' was created in the 1980s after Marsha Forest read the beautiful poems of Judith Snow. She tried to get in contact with her and found out that Judith, a young lady in her mid 20s lived in a home for older people. So they started to change this situation, founded the first 'Circle of Friends' and went on working until Judith was the first person in Canada living with personal assistance in her own flat (see PEARPOINT 1990). The second was built around Marsha when she had got her diagnosis of cancer some years later.

  • In the circle of intimacy are people who the person loves.
  • In the circle of friendship are the person’s friends.
  • In the circle of participation are people the person knows such as colleagues but who would not be close enough to be called friends.
  • In the circle of exchange are the people who have a paid relationship with them (FALVEY ET AL. 2000)

Circle meetings bring together the people who know and care about a person, to support them in planning, decision making and thinking about their lives. Such a group of people are often described a 'circle of support' and the individuals may take on roles to enable the person to meet their objectives in a MAP or PATH or a support plan if they have a personal budget. The circle may meet at regular intervals with the person in a relaxed setting at a convenient time so they can plan together. In a circle meeting there is often an identified person who facilitates the meeting.

Examples of circles of support you find in the story of Rosemarie HinterseerMonika’s MAP MeetingCarls planning processJürgen’s story and Markus story.


O'BRIEN, John & PEARPOINT, Jack (2002): Person-Centered Planning with MAPS and PATH. A Workbook for Facilitators. Toronto: Inclusion Press
O’BRIEN, John, PEARPOINT, Jack & KAHN, Linda (2010): The PATH & MAPS Handbook. Person-Centered Ways to build Communnity. Toronto:  Inclusion Press
FALVEY, Mary, FOREST, Marsha, PEARPOINT, Jack & ROSENBERG, Richard L. (2000): All my Life‘s a Circle. Using the Tools: Circles, MAPS & PATHS. Toronto: Inclusion Press
PEARPOINT, Jack (1990): Behind the Piano. The building of Judith Snow’s unique Circle of Friends. Toronto: Inclusion Press
PEARPOINT, Jack (2002): Hints for Graphic Facilitators. Toronto: Inclusion Press
PEARPOINT, Jack, O‘BRIEN, John & FOREST, Marsha (2001): PATH: Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope. A Workbook for Planning Possible Positive Futures. Toronto: Inclusion Press


Inclusion Press – Books and Material (USA) on circles of friends

Books and Material on circles of friends in Europe