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Person - Centered Counseling
Empowering Individuals for Long - Term Success

It is safe to say that we, as human beings are much more likely to do something if we decide to do it ourselves and feel empowered to make our own decisions. That is the underlying theory of what makes Person-Centered Counseling successful. It is based on an individual’s needs, preferences, values and strengths while focusing on the individual’s prioritized goals.

What Is Person - Centered Counseling? 

This program has been in existence throughout the state since 2012. It was originally called “Options Counseling” but over the years the name has morphed to make it more descriptive and easy to understand. The concept of Person – Centered Counseling is one of the core criteria of a fully functional Aging and Disability Resource Center program (known as PA Link throughout the commonwealth). It is designed to help consumers navigate the vast array of Long – Term Supports and Services available.

Pennsylvania has seen an increase in its popularity over the last several years, helping thousands of people across the state each year.  Person – Centered Counseling can fill a gap for those who may be on waiting lists, are not eligible for or have been denied services, do not know where to start, have experienced a life-changing event or want to plan ahead.

This service is available to any senior or individual with a disability. There are no income or asset limitations.

What Can An Individual Expect During a Person – Centered Counseling Session?

In every county of the state, there are specially – trained professionals who have undergone education requirements to become Person – Centered Counselors. Many work for local Area Agencies on Aging, Centers for Independent Living, and established support coordination entities. They have been trained to focus on the following areas during a Person – Centered Counseling Session: 

  • The Personal Interview  – This is an opportunity for the counselor to learn about the individual’s particular circumstances and needs. It’s a time for the counselor to ensure the individual meets the requirement of help with at least two long-term supports and services or assistance completing a PA 600 L form.  

  • Overview of Resources – The counselor, who is usually local to the individual, can provide a list of resources and ideas to help meet the needs. The counselor will explain the options, answer questions, etc.

  • Supporting the Decision-Support Process – Sometimes it can be overwhelming to weigh the options and find new perspective on a particular situation. The counselor can help the individual identify the most urgent needs or those that should be tackled first.

  • Development of an Action Plan – The counselor is trained NOT to complete the action plan on behalf of the individual, but instead enable and work alongside the individual to complete the steps for him / herself.

  • Follow Up – It is very easy to get side-tracked or overwhelmed. The follow – up portion of the Person-Centered Counseling session is critical. Together, the individual and counselor will establish the best time frame and method for follow – up. This gives the individual independence to complete their action plan, but also provides accountability to someone else.  

                          Is Person – Centered Counseling Right for You?


The need for long – term care supports and services can be thought of as a spectrum. There are varying levels of help and services available along the way.


Usually, the most simplistic form of help is through what is known as “Information and Referral.” This is when the individual themselves, a family member or even a professional knows what they need, but cannot access whatever it may be.  Perhaps it is a phone number for a certain organization or a list of local support groups. On the other end of the spectrum are individuals who are truly unable to care for themselves. Service Coordination or professional care management may play a role in such circumstances. However, there is a wide, gray area in the middle where people are capable of making their own decisions but have no idea where to begin. This is the place Person – Centered Counselors can step in and provide a meaningful, results-driven dialogue to keep the vulnerable senior or person with a disability safe and independent for as long as possible.


There is no charge for information and assistance provided by any Link or Link partner agency.

If you or someone you know may be interested in a free Person – Centered Counseling session, contact the PA Link Helpline at 1-800-753-8827 to be connected to a counselor in your area.
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