The Own Initiative Model

The own initiative model is a methodology to promote the independence of people with mild intellectual disabilities. It’s about ‘learning to learn’ and thinking for yourself. Young people with MID are often insecure, they know that they are different, so it is very good to receive confirmation that they can do something themselves and do not always have to call for help. This article describes the EIM, its application and the competencies required for a care provider to apply the EIM.


The EIM is a model for people with intellectual disabilities. It focuses on strengthening people’s skills so that they can take more responsibility in all possible areas of life. The core point of this model is the development of thinking. This means: If someone thinks more about what he does, he develops greater thinking capacity for his own actions. This aspect increases the overall development chances of people with a mild intellectual disability.
The model emphasizes the independence of humans. More justice is given to what the client can think of himself, with which the client opposes a position of dependency. Within this model, learning to learn is central. This means that in practice clients are not always busy carrying out concrete tasks, but are busy learning things that are necessary for this. It is especially important for the client to pause and think before starting. It is important for people with a mild intellectual disability to learn to consider the questions: What am I going to do and what do I want? What is needed and how am I going to do it? It is important that they create an overview of what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve this goal (Timmer, 2011).
In addition, it is important that they always pause to consider whether things are still working and going well. They need to consider whether they might be missing something and whether more needs to be done. At the end, the questions should be considered: How did it go? Have I achieved what I wanted to achieve and will I do it the same way next time? Standing still and making oneself aware of concrete actions, step by step, is an important learning point for people with a mild intellectual disability. They learn again and again to do what they can do and learn what they want.
If this process is practiced and implemented often, generalization will occur. This means that the same thought processes and action skills arise at different times. During this learning process it is always important that the client has good guidance. The supervisor’s task is to make everyday situations safe, so that the client feels safe enough to try out steps themselves and thus develop further. The supervisor is therefore someone who offers space, but also sets boundaries. EIM is not without obligation. EIM works with concrete goals, which must be small and clear. It is important to always relate this to the client’s goals, personal wishes and future plans (Timmer, 2011).

Criticisms of the EIM

There are a few points of discussion/criticism about the EIM. Some people overestimate the EIM and use it for target groups for which it is not intended. This method has been developed purely and solely for people with a mild intellectual disability. It can also happen that people misinterpret the method, using it as: guiding with the hands behind the back. Then too much is expected of the client and goals are set that are not realistic (Timmer, 2011).

Which competencies are required to apply the EIM?

To collaborate

The employees must be able to work well together. If each client is approached on an individual level, it is important that colleagues know what each other has done or wants to do. They must agree on goals that are discussed with the client. It is certainly also important that information and interim statuses are passed on to each other, so that the latest development status can always be worked on. If colleagues do not know about each other’s work, problems or misunderstandings can quickly arise, which negatively affects the client’s development.

To lead

It is also important that the care provider develops an appropriate style of leadership. The client himself and his decisions are central, but that does not mean that the care provider does not indirectly direct the client. He must find the right way to let the client decide for himself and find solutions, but he must also steer them in the right direction. This is done through good coaching and guidance. For this, conversations are particularly important in which the care provider chooses the right questions to guide the client towards appropriate decisions.


The competency of anticipation is very important for the care provider. The client himself and his level of development are central, so the care provider must always adapt to the individual development level and changes of each client. It is important for the care provider to be able to empathize with new situations and to act confidently within them. It is important for the client that he always has a care provider behind him who is aware of his level of development and can therefore provide appropriate support. To achieve this, the care provider needs flexibility, a professional attitude, certainty in his or her own actions and empathy.

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