Wednesday 21 November 2018

Attending a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Workshop at ReCoCo

Disclaimer: Wellness Recovery Action Plan® and WRAP® are registered trademarks. All rights are reserved by the copyright holder, Advocates for Human Potential, Inc.

I wrote recently about how I came to enrol at Newcastle Recovery College (ReCoCo) and a little of what the college means to me. I have also written about the first class I took, which was on self-harm awareness.

In this article I describe my experiences attending the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Awareness workshop. The following description is taken from the ReCoCo website:


A workshop for people who experience mental health challenges and for those who care about them. It promotes a structured approach to developing a range of strategies to support self-management in recovery from distress. WRAP® (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) is a plan designed and managed by you and is designed to:

  • Decrease and prevent intrusive or troubling feelings and behaviours
  • Increase personal empowerment
  • Improve quality of life
  • Assist you in achieving your own life goals and dreams

Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) was created by Mary Ellen Copeland, an author, educator and mental health recovery advocate in the USA. You can find lots of information and resources on the Mental Health Recovery website, including a short summary video.

The ReCoCo sessions I attended were led by two facilitators. There were twelve students in the first class (two did not return for the second session). For obvious reasons I will not be sharing names or details but there was a fantastic rapport within the group and I believe we all got an enormous amount from the workshops.

The first session began with introductions and ground rules. We were also invited to gauge where we were on a scale of one (very poorly) to ten (feeling well). I judged myself to be around a seven: I was feeling positive about being there but I had a lot going on for me at the time. We covered the basics of what WRAP is and its five key recovery concepts:

  • Hope
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Education
  • Self-Advocacy
  • Support

We then started going through the separate parts of the WRAP plan itself. The facilitators invited us to contribute examples from our personal experience. These were written up and displayed around the room so we could refer back to them if necessary. Note that some of the following description may differ a little from the official Mental Health Recovery definitions and approach. Any misinterpretations, errors and omissions are mine.

Day 1

  • Wellness Tools. These are things which contribute to our feeling good and remaining stable.
  • What I’m Like When I Am Well. In this section we describe how we feel and behave when we are doing well. It serves as a reminder of what it feels to be doing well.
  • Daily Maintenance (Daily Plan). In this section we list things we need to do on a daily or regular basis to remain well.

Day 2

  • Triggers (Stressors). These are things or situations which can make us feel uncomfortable or worse.
  • Early Warning Signs. This is a list of how we feel and behave when we are starting to move away from wellness. If we are aware of these warning signs we can take action before our situation worsens into crisis. At this stage we are able to use our daily maintenance plan and wellness tools to restore us to balance.
  • When Things are Breaking Down (Crisis Point). Here we list feelings and behaviours which indicate we are feeling much worse or are approaching, or in, crisis. At this stage our usual wellness tools are not going to work and we need a stronger action plan to get back to wellness.
  • Crisis Plan. The plan includes signs that let others know they need to take over responsibility for your care and decision making, in ways you have agreed beforehand. The plan starts with identifying people you want to take over certain (specified) responsibilities and support you. It includes things that will be helpful to you as well as things that will not be helpful.
  • Post-Crisis Plan. The final part of the WRAP covers how you might return to wellness and stability after a crisis situation has occurred.

At the end of the second day’s session we were again invited to gauge where we were on the one to ten wellness scale. I felt about the same (seven) as the previous week although a lot had shifted for me in the intervening days. The WRAP workshop itself had helped me process some of what had been going on for me.

We completed our post-training evaluation and parted. I think we were all sad that we would not be continuing the class, but ReCoCo does offer one-to-one WRAP drop in sessions by appointment with the WRAP course leader. This is something I may take advantage of as I work on my own plan, which I have started to do. I may blog that in time once I have it in a more or less stable state, though by its very nature a WRAP is a living document and subject to review and change.

For more information about Newcastle Recovery College and their courses check their website.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing the details of the workshop and your personal perspective. I really want to set aside some time to draw up a WRAP plan again since so much has changed since the last time I worked on one (and I don't even know where it is but my mom might have it!) She's an outpatient mental health social worker and although we don't see eye to eye all the time she's truly been a huge support toward my recovery over the years.