Brain Science and Updates From the Field

WRAP program a helpful tool for Stairways clients

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Stairways Behavioral Health is encouraging the use of an intuitive tool to help individuals.

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) is a self-designed prevention and wellness process that anyone can use to get and stay well. The WRAP is a way to identify upsetting events and develop an action plan to respond to these occurrences.

All WRAPs serve as a toolbox when dealing with stressful events or unwanted feelings. A Wellness Recovery Action Plan includes a daily maintenance plan, a list of triggers, early warning signs and indications of when things are breaking down. WRAPs also include a crisis plan and a post-crisis plan.

Stairways is implementing WRAPs throughout the agency to use a tool for clients when they are faced with unwelcome or difficult situations. Staff members from Stairways’ peer specialist program, such as Theresa Abbey, are helping to facilitate WRAP trainings and introduce the wellness program across the agency.

Abbey reports having significant success using it in her life.

“(It’s) a tool I use to help decrease and prevent intrusive feelings and behaviors,” Abbey said. “It gives me personal empowerment, improves quality of my life and finally achieves my goals.”

Those creating a WRAP are encouraged to take personal inventory of issues that could potentially pose difficulty and consider ways to mitigate their danger.

During trainings conducted at Stairways, participants are encouraged to recognize potential triggers as well as coping skills that may be used to address distressing events.

Abbey, who is a trained WRAP facilitator and presenter, said the ability to sense the signs of distress as well as ways to tend to them has been useful on a number of occasions.

“I remain in control through the process and I think this is important when you feel so out of control,” she said. “It helps me identify what I am like when well and when not so well and who I can use as a support.”

The methods people use to address these situations include those such as deep breaths, exercise and writing. Most people prefer to compile and keep their WRAPs in a binder or notebook for safekeeping and easy access.

WRAPs are designed to be portable, so that the user can consult with them whenever they need to increase feelings of hope, personal responsibility, education, self-advocacy and support.

The system was created by Dr. Mary Ellen Copeland and further developed by a group of people who were searching for ways to overcome their mental health issues and sustain recovery.

The WRAP is recognized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as an evidence-based practice and is listed in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.



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