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creating more
Self-determined lives

What is Self-Determination

People who are self-determined know what they want and are highly motivated to achieve it. The degree to which we are self-determined is influenced both by our personal characteristics, i.e., our knowledge, skills and beliefs, and by the supports and barriers in our environments.

According to Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory, we are most self-determined when our needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness are met.

When these needs are satisfied, our motivation is increased and our ability to achieve what we want soars. Given the constancy of change, both in our environments and ourselves, self-determination is a process, not an outcome. When we act with increased self-determination and heightened internal motivation, we increase our likelihood for success and enjoyment in education, employment and just about every other endeavor.

The mission of 2BSD is to provide supports and resources to help people live more self-determined lives.

Self Determined Model

Our Action Model for Self-Determination was developed with the goal of identifying what individuals can do to increase their self-determination. We recognize that environmental supports and barriers are highly important to self-determination.

However, we chose to focus on factors affecting self-determination that are within a person’s control so we could develop educational programs and supports to help people increase their self-determination in a variety of settings. In addition, we believe that these characteristics will lead to increased ability to recognize and choose environments that are most conducive to self-determination.

To build the model, we conducted interviews with over 200 individuals across the U.S. representing a wide variety of ages, ethnicity and occupations. 

The questions we asked included 

  • What is self-determination? 
  • How does a self-determined person act?
  • What helps you be self-determined?
  • What gets in the way of your self-determination?

We analyzed themes that emerged from the responses to construct the model. Our model development process was also influenced by what we learned from the research and writing of others about self-determination, many of whom who’ll find more information about on the pages of this website.

Know Yourself & Your Context - Value Yourself

  • Dream
  • Know your strengths, weaknesses, needs & preferences
  • Know options, supports & expectations
  • Decide what is important to you
  • Embrace all aspects of self
  • Discover/develop strengths from weaknesses
  • Recognize & respect rights & responsiblities
  • Take care of yourself
  • Develop & nurture positive relationships


  • Set Goals
  • Plan actions to meet goals
  • Anticipate possible results
  • Be creative
  • Visually Rehearse


  • Take Risks
  • Communicate
  • Access resources & Support
  • Negotiate
  • Deal with conflict & criticism
  • Be persistent

Experience Outcomes & Learn

  • Compare outcome to expected outcome
  • Compare performance to expected performance
  • Realize success
  • Make adjustments



The foundation for 2BSD was provided by work conducted through the Initiative for Self-Determination in the College of Education at Wayne State University. The three prinicipal investigators for the Initiative were Dr. Sharon Field, Professor (Research and Clinical) of Educational Leadership, Dr. Alan Hoffman, Professor in Counseling Psychology, and Dr. Shlomo Sawilowsky, Professor in Educational Evaluation and Research. Over a period of 25 years, the team examined how people can be supported to navigate transitions and found that self-determination was an essential key to helping people successfully make changes in their lives. They examined how self-determination can help people be successful, as well as what helps individuals be more self-determined and what gets in their way. Most of the team’s work was conducted in schools, but activities were also extended to other groups, including parents, women’s groups and retirees. The work of the Initiative for Self-Determination was supported through several federal, state and private grants. Curricula, assessment instruments and workshops aimed at helping individuals maximize their self-determination were developed as part of the work of the Initiative for Self-Determination. 


2BSD offers a continuum of assessment and curricular resources based on the Action Model for Self-Determination to meet the needs of children from early childhood through post-secondary education. In addition, some excellent resources have been developed by our colleagues to meet a wide variety of student needs. Some of these resources are specifically designed to teach knowledge and skills for self-determination while others are not specifically delineated as self-determination instruction but teach to many of the component skills students need to be self-determined.

"Self-determination means having the courage to chase my dreams."
“Self-determination is creating an identity based on what is truly meaningful.”
“Self-determination is persevering to reach your goals.”
"Self-determination means you can do what you want."
"Do it myself!"
"Self-determination means you really, really wanna do something by yourself.”
"Family helps me be self-determined.”

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