What is WRAP?

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP®) is a personalized wellness and recovery system born out of and rooted in the principle of self-determination. WRAP® is a wellness and recovery approach that helps people to: 1) decrease and prevent intrusive or troubling feelings and behaviors; 2) increase personal empowerment; 3) improve quality of life; and 4) achieve their own life goals and dreams. Working with a WRAP® can help individuals to monitor uncomfortable and distressing feelings and behaviors and, through planned responses, reduce, modify, or eliminate those feelings. A WRAP® also includes plans for responses from others when an individual cannot make decisions, take care of him/herself, and/or keep him/herself safe.

The person who experiences symptoms is the one who develops their personal WRAP. The person may choose to have supporters and health care professionals help them create their WRAP, but the individual remains in control of the process. Individuals learn to use WRAP® through a peer-led and peer-engaged group process. Formal WRAP® groups typically range in size from 10 to 15 participants and are led by two trained co-facilitators who are peers who use WRAP for their own recovery. Information is delivered and skills are developed through lectures, discussions, and individual and group exercises. Key WRAP® concepts and values are illustrated through examples from the lives of the co-Facilitators and participants.

WRAP® participants create a personalized recovery system of wellness tools and action plans to achieve a self-directed wellness vision despite life’s daily challenges. Participants are encouraged, and when possible, assisted to continue meeting after the formal 8 to12 week period has ended and to support each other in using and continuously revising their WRAP® plans. A person’s WRAP® is a tool that can be used for a lifetime, and a voluntary WRAP® group can be a long-term peer support resource for ensuring that this valuable and personalized recovery system remains sharp and useful for building a healthy and successful life in the community.

The key to ensuring that recipients of behavioral health services receive the full benefit of using WRAP® is for the leaders and participants in behavioral health organizations to better understand and incorporate the ethics, values, and practices that Mary Ellen Copeland, the Copeland Center, and the grassroots practitioners of WRAP® have established.

In 2010, WRAP® was recognized by the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as an evidence- based practice and listed in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices. Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) released the results of a rigorous study that demonstrated significantly positive behavioral health outcomes for individuals with severe and persistent mental health challenges who participated in peer-led WRAP® groups. Research studies on WRAP® from UIC cited that positive outcomes were tied to the fidelity of the WRAP® facilitation model designed by Mary Ellen Copeland and developed by the Copeland Center.


In This Section

3 Key Educational Steps

Getting a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP®) Program Started

In order to do mental health recovery and WRAP work, it is essential that you understand and support the following values and ethics.

“Recovery and WRAP have changed my life.”

“I’ve gone from being totally disabled to being able to live a full and rich life. I am so grateful.”

“Everything has improved at our organization. People are recovering and moving forward with their lives. Our work is so much more fulfilling.”

“Finally, something I can do to help myself.”

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP®) was developed by people who had been living with a variety of mental health challenges and who were working hard to feel better and get on with their lives. In 1997, several dozen individuals who had experienced serious mental illnesses came together in northern Vermont for an eight-day gathering designed to initiate dialogues on how to improve their emotional and mental health. Many of the attendees had been residents of state psychiatric hospitals at various periods in their lives. They came together to discuss practical strategies for regaining and sustaining their own wellness. They did not know it at the time but this cadre of intrepid explorers was blazing the trail towards a new international self-help movement for wellness and recovery.

The Way WRAP Works!
Check out our implementation guide that synthesizes scientific research and in the field observations. The Way WRAP Works!

WRAP & Recovery Books is owned by AHP. The Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery is a non-profit training, technical assistance and advocacy organization which works in partnership with WRAP and Recovery Books to promote recovery education.