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What is a Wellness Recovery Action Plan® (WRAP®) and how do I use it?

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan®, or WRAP®, is an evidence based practice that is used world-wide by people who are dealing with mental health challenges as well as medical conditions. Diabetes, weight gain, pain management, addictions, smoking, and trauma are just some of the many life challenges that can benefit from WRAP. WRAP can also be used as a framework to guide relationships in peer support, recovery groups, agencies, and organizations.

WRAP is being used in schools, prisons, hospitals, and veterans’ facilities. It is used with people of all ages who want to attain the highest possible level of wellness. It was originally developed by a group of people who lived with mental health difficulties and were searching for ways to resolve their wellness issues. WRAP was their answer, and it can be used by anyone looking to develop a plan to manage a path to wellness.

WRAP involves listing your personal resources, your Wellness Tools, and then using those resources to develop an Action Plan to use in specific situations which you determine. WRAP is adaptable for any situation and can include a Crisis Plan or Advance Directive.

WRAP is for Life! – It is for everyone, anytime, and for any of life's challenges.

 WRAP Overview                              

[video with Mary Ellen Copeland]      Click here to find out more about getting started with WRAP®

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Adapting WRAP for You

WRAP can be easily adapted for use by people who have specific life issues or who are dealing with difficult situations. Because each person’s circumstances and experiences are so unique, it is impossible to completely outline how your WRAP can be tailored to meet your individual needs. However, we can review some ideas for addressing circumstances for which you have either some advanced warning for or not warning at all. WRAP is an evidence-based practice that is used worldwide and it can be adapted for YOU.
Your WRAP can be as long or as short as is practical and is a personal choice. It may contain only one item and a single response in each section or be very elaborate and specific. It can be recorded, written, or a series of illustrative pictures instead of words – let your imagination and your needs be your guide.
The following list includes only some examples of the kinds of special circumstances that could be the basis for developing a WRAP:

  • Diabetes
  • Anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Physical Disability
  • Severe Pain
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Quitting Smoking
  • Homelessness
  • Self-Esteem Issues
  • Aging Issues

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Living a Family WRAP

When we think of family, we may think of the traditional family – Mom, Dad and children who live, work and play together, however, family is a much broader concept. It may be family as a group of individuals who may or may not live together and may or may not be related, but who spend a lot of time together and meet specific family needs.  What is important is that this family is a group of people who want to be together in a relationship that supports growth, happiness and wellness.
Families may have had difficult times working together. These patterns may have been established for a long time. Sometimes they are handed down, just like antiques, from generation to generation. Although old habits are often hard to break, it can be done as we “unlearn” them.
In order to successfully develop and use a Family WRAP, family members need to:

  • Be willing to reach out and connect with each other
  • Be mutually supportive to each other
  • Be willing to provide other family members with additional support when they need it
  • Trust each other, or work on increasing trust
  • Be willing to take risks in sharing
  • Address and respect boundary issues
  • Be willing to work together when individual family members or the whole family is having a hard time.
  • Be willing to work on close family relationships across ages, interests and genders

Recognize that everyone in the family, from the youngest to the oldest, those with various developmental and other issues, that everyone has feelings, dreams and goals that need to be respected by everyone in the family.

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Highly Recommended WRAP Course

I have taken the course Implementing Mental Health Evidence-Based Practices: The Case of Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) and I recommend it highly to anyone who is implementing, has implemented or is considering implementing a WRAP program or any other evidence-based program, and for Advanced Level WRAP Facilitators who might find themselves advocating for WRAP programs, helping to get the program started and insuring its continuance.  

The course gives detailed instructions for implementation that, if followed, insure success. The beginning of the course is more generic, giving the basics of successful implementation, and toward the end it focuses almost exclusively on WRAP. This course would have been of great value to me over the years in my efforts to disseminate WRAP. It would have helped me avoid missteps, those times when I had to back up and take a different track or change the focus of my efforts. Although WRAP has done very well, as I took the course I thought about different ways we could have done things, and how that might have enhanced and eased the process.

This course is eligible for Continuing Education credit for those who need it. At a cost of $5.00, it is the best bargain around. You can access it at http://www.cmhsrp.uic.edu/health/ebp-wrap-course.asp.


Mary Ellen Copeland and her staff cannot address personal mental health problems and issues. We care very much about your concerns but we must focus our efforts on education and resource development. For more information on how to get help for yourself or the people you are supporting, please use the resources on this website.

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