Circles of Friends/Support

Circle of Support

Circles of Friends or Circles of Support have been in every society since the dawn of time. We are wired for belonging, connection and being in relationship with one another.

‘Circles’ is about how we take care of each other in families and communities. It is the ‘structure’ of our relationships. In Western societies, as wealth and mobility have increased, we are increasingly isolated from one another. We need to remember old wisdom, and learn new habits about how to take care of one another. Thinking about ‘gathering our circles’ reminds us to focus our attention and intention on our relationships.

Circles of Friends is about this kind of lifelong dynamic. Circles of Friends is not a program. It is a way of living and thinking about our relationships, and acting in ways to sustain them. It has an underlying philosophy of interdependence. In circumstances when we are not able to see one another and find ourselves separated from one another, is critical to think about and act on ‘who are my people’?

“Mapping” our relationships helps us ‘see’ and notice who our people are, and which connections are important for us to nurture and sustain.  We all need to notice who is important in your life from time to time. Then, we must be intentional about connecting and reconnecting with those people. It is a foundation for a healthy life.

The books, videos and overheads shared here explore the incredible simplicity, and paradoxically the enormous complexity, of building and sustaining a circle of support so we can all live full lives.

Download this template

from Person-Centered Planning with MAPS and PATH: A Workbook for Facilitators, 4th Edition (2007) – Use the template to review your ‘network of support’ – the people in your life – regularly.

This Workbook for Facilitators includes 29 short articles, including two more we are making available here, which offer guidance and perspective: 

Charting Our Circles of Support (O’Brien and Pearpoint, 2007) and

Participation Through Circles of Support (Judith Snow, 2007)

Download this template

from The PATH & MAPS Handbook: Person Centered Ways to Build Community (2010).  Use it to review your ‘network of support’ – the people in your life – regularly. We’ve also included here as a free download Charting the Circlefrom the Handbook, which offers steps to identify planning circle members.

Circles of Support: How To – download

instructions on how to create a Circle of Support taken from the Tools for Change DVD (2000) beginning with a 2020 Preface (pdf)

Circles of Support (Friends) – download

a story from a classroom (1991) that is still relevant – scary thought – Marsha Forest & Jack Pearpoint

Circles of Support Overheads

These overheads have been used to explain the concept of Circles of Support; that we all need people – and the strategy to find them “fill circles” is to fill the third circle – the circle of participation in organizations, activities, interests – where you meet and connect with people!

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IDEAL: Full Circles – Circle of Friends download

Creating and Maintaining ‘full circles’ is a sign of health – and resilience for a full life

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Circle of PARTICIPATION: Fill 3rd Circle First download

Personal Assistance: What it is and What it is not – Judith Snow – download

Abstract: In her typical forthright way, Judith peels back the layers of misunderstanding about the nature of Personal Assistance – and reminds us of the very simple truth – is a form of support for people who are labeled disabled.

Judith Snow – Writing & Videos

Judith Snow – in Memorium

Partnership: What Does it Really Mean? Forest & Pearpoint

Circles of Friends – a selection of videos…

Circles of Friends – a selection of Videos

The Circle Way

There are many people utilizing Circles in many contexts. The Circle way has a wide array of excellent articles well worth your time. Including Tips for Participating in Circles – Virtually – using ZoomIncluding Tips for Participating in Circles – Virtually – using Zoom

Circles: How to – Resource recommendations

Stories of Circles in Action

Recommended DVDs