The occupational focus of clinical practice challenges therapists to re‐evaluate the task‐orientated approaches they use to facilitate skill attainment for their clients. It can be argued that how we teach, as well as what we teach, influences the autonomy and perceived competence of our clients. Several researchers have proposed that we risk promoting learned helplessness if we do not adequately manage this process, especially in children with disabilities (e.g. Basil, 1992; Gerston, 1998; Larkin, 2001; Swanson, 1999). Significantly, Hallenbeck (2002) demonstrated that students with learning disabilities were able to move beyond their dependent learning behaviours when appropriate teaching strategies were used. The purpose of this paper is to describe the evolution of a model for planning instructional strategies that encourage the learner to be more active in the learning process, and as a consequence make them less likely to develop learned helpless behaviours.