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:
- Physical Disability
- Severe Pain
- Developmental Disabilities
- Quitting Smoking
- Self-Esteem Issues
- Aging Issues
The following example gives you an idea of how to deal with special needs when you are working on your own WRAP:
Mark has been living on the streets since being evicted from his apartment as a result of losing his job. He is feeling very discouraged and finding that he lacks motivation to take action that would help him get a job and improve his circumstances. Mark talked about his concerns to a worker at a local shelter who suggested he develop a WRAP.
Mark’s Daily Maintenance Plan included tasks like taking a shower, shampooing, getting a healthy meal at the soup kitchen and making at least one job contact. He has identified being turned down for a job as a Trigger. Instead of going off alone and sulking, he found that if he talked to a friend about the experience, it didn’t leave him feeling so unmotivated.
Mark also worked to identify various early warning signs and potential crises to establish a positive plan of action for when these occur.
Addressing Difficult Changes in Life Circumstances
There may be times when you have special needs due to a sudden change in your circumstances. You may be doing very well and suddenly get thrown a curveball – either with or without advance warning. To keep things from getting out of control during these times, you need information, help and support from others. Some difficult times, such as learning that a loved one has a life-threatening or terminal illness – while never simple – can be eased by planning and preparation.
Nancy, had been using her WRAP in dealing with her arthritis, when she learned that her husband had two concurrent terminal illnesses. It was expected that he would live several more years, but that during that period his health would gradually decline. After she got over the shock, it was important to take some action while her husband was still doing fairly well, so Nancy conferred with family members and friends and worked to revise her own WRAP. By the time the situation become very serious, she was ready. It wasn’t easy, but it was much easier than it might have been. The actions she took included:
- Educating herself and her family members through research and attendance at support groups so they knew what to expect.
- Arranging for family members and friends to provide her husband with some care so she could take time to do things she enjoyed and to complete her daily maintenance plan.
- Scheduling time for daily meditation.
- Stocking up on canned and frozen foods, cleaning supplies, and paper products, to avoid emergency shopping trips.
- Listing easy, day trips and activities that could be enjoyed on good days to increase the quality of time they had left together.
- Now, several years after her husband’s death, Nancy says that the advance planning was a lifesaver for her throughout his illness.
Customizing YOUR WRAP
Whichever issue you wish to develop a WRAP for, keep the following suggestions in mind as triggers arise:
- Do everything on your daily maintenance plan every day.
- Refer to the plan you developed for responding to triggers and increase the number or duration of some activities in the plan as necessary.
- If you are experiencing early warning signs, check over that list and see which of those activities might be used or increased to help you feel better.
Using these guidelines, and others you’ve thought of, develop a list of things which you feel would be helpful if you found yourself in an extremely difficult situation. Insert the guidelines at the end of the crisis section of your WRAP binder. Remember, you are the expert on yourself. Each of us can be creative in adapting WRAP to successfully address our own personal issues. Ask others for suggestions and continue to adapt your WRAP as necessary to fit your needs. For a more in-depth review about how WRAP can work for you, WRAP for Life details how to create YOUR targeted WRAP.
Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.