Harnessing the Power of WRAP:

A Path to Healing and Recovery


In the journey of mental health and wellness, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) stands as a powerful tool for individuals battling conditions such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, and substance use disorders. As a mental health counselor, I have witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of WRAP on my clients’ lives. In this article, we will explore the essence of WRAP and the development of a wellness toolbox, while shedding light on the profound effectiveness of WRAP in alleviating symptoms and fostering sustainable healing.

Understanding the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP):

WRAP is a comprehensive, self-designed system developed by Mary Ellen Copeland, an advocate for mental health recovery. At its core, WRAP empowers individuals to take charge of their well-being by providing them with a structured framework to create a personalized plan for managing their mental health challenges.

The key components of WRAP include:

1. Wellness Toolbox:

A collection of strategies, resources, and coping techniques that individuals compile to support their mental well-being.

2. Daily Maintenance Plan:

A set of practices that promote overall mental wellness and help individuals stay on track with their recovery goals.

3. Triggers and Early Warning Signs:

Identification of personal triggers and early warning signs that indicate a potential decline in mental health.

4. Crisis Plan:

A guide to managing mental health crises, including contact information for trusted supporters, healthcare professionals, and crisis hotlines.

5. Post-Crisis Plan:

Strategies for regaining stability and preventing relapses after a crisis has occurred.


The Development of a Wellness Toolbox:

Central to the WRAP approach is the development of a wellness toolbox, a resourceful collection of strategies and techniques that individuals can utilize to maintain their mental health. The wellness toolbox is unique to each person and consists of activities and practices that have proven beneficial for their emotional well-being. Some common elements found in a wellness toolbox include:

1. Self-Care Practices:

Engaging in activities that promote physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, such as exercise, mindfulness, meditation, and hobbies.

2. Support Networks:

Building and nurturing relationships with trusted individuals who provide understanding, encouragement, and a sense of community.

3. Coping Strategies:

Identifying healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress, such as journaling, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or engaging in creative outlets.

4. Professional Support:

Seeking guidance from mental health professionals, including therapists, counselors, or support groups, to receive specialized care and assistance.

5. Medication Management:

For individuals who require medication, ensuring adherence to prescribed regimens and regular check-ins with healthcare providers.


For more information about developing a Wellness Toolbox:



The Effectiveness of Following a WRAP:

WRAP has demonstrated remarkable effectiveness in improving symptoms and fostering recovery across a range of mental health conditions, including depression, PTSD, anxiety, and substance use disorders. By empowering individuals to take an active role in their healing journey, WRAP offers the following benefits:

1. Personal Empowerment:

WRAP empowers individuals by providing them with a sense of control over their mental health and recovery process. It allows individuals to identify and utilize effective strategies tailored to their unique needs, promoting a sense of autonomy and self-efficacy.

2. Symptom Management:

WRAP equips individuals with personalized tools and techniques to manage symptoms effectively. By recognizing triggers and early warning signs, individuals can intervene early and employ preventive strategies, reducing the intensity and duration of symptoms.

3. Crisis Intervention and Prevention:

The crisis plan within WRAP offers individuals a structured approach to manage mental health crises. By identifying potential triggers, establishing crisis contacts, and detailing coping strategies, individuals can navigate difficult periods more effectively, minimizing the impact of crises and reducing the risk of relapse.

4. Holistic Approach:

WRAP recognizes that mental health is interconnected with various aspects of life, emphasizing the importance of overall well-being. By incorporating self-care practices, social support, and professional help, WRAP addresses mental health challenges from a holistic perspective, promoting long-term recovery and resilience.


How to Use the WRAP Program:

In order to use this program successfully, you have to be willing to spend up to 15 or 20 minutes daily reviewing the pages, and be willing to take action if indicated. Most people report that morning, either before or after breakfast, is the best time to review the book. As you become familiar with your symptoms and plans, you will find that the review process takes less time and that you will know how to respond to certain symptoms without even referring to the book.

Begin with the first page in Section 1, Daily Maintenance Plan. Review the list of how you are if you are all right. If you are all right, do the things on your list of things you need to do every day to keep yourself well. Also refer to the page of things you may need to do to see if anything “rings a bell” with you. If it does, make a note to yourself to include it in your day.

If you are not feeling all right, review the other sections to see where the symptoms you are experiencing fit it. Then follow the action play you have designed.

For instance, if you feel very anxious because you got a big bill in the mail or had an argument with your spouse, follow the plan in the triggers section. If you noticed some early warning signs (subtle signs that your symptoms might be worsening) like forgetting things or avoiding answering the phone, follow the play you designed for the early warning signs section. If you notice symptoms that indicate things are breaking down, like you are starting to spend excessive amounts of money, chain smoking or have more intense pain, follow the play you developed for “when things are breaking down.”

If you are in a crisis situation, the book will help you discover that so you can let your supporters know they need you to take over. However, in certain crisis situations, you may not be aware or willing to admit that you are in crisis. This is why having a strong team of supporters is so important. They will observe the symptoms you have reported and take over responsibility for your care, whether or not you are willing to admit you are in a crisis at that time. Distributing your crisis plan to your supporters and discussing it with them is absolutely essential to your safety and well-being.

If you have just been through a crisis, refer to your post crisis plan to guide you as you heal from this difficult time. When you feel you are ready, you can return to using the other parts of your Wellness Recovery Action Plan as you did before the crisis.


The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) provides individuals with a powerful roadmap to navigate the complexities of mental health challenges. As a mental health counselor, I have seen the transformative impact of WRAP in helping individuals with depression, PTSD, anxiety, and substance use disorders find stability and reclaim their lives. By empowering individuals to develop their personalized wellness toolbox, WRAP promotes self-empowerment, symptom management, crisis intervention, and a holistic approach to mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, I encourage you to explore the potential of WRAP as a valuable tool in the journey towards healing and recovery.