WRAP and Hearing Voices

magpieWhatever reservations, doubts or criticisms you may have of WRAP – Wellness Recovery Action Plan – [if you do, because some undoubtedly do, me too] then you’ve likely seen enough examples of it done less than really well. The same is likely true of Hearing Voices and hearing voices groups.

I’m a WRAP facilitator, have had the privilege to introduce it to over 500 people and I also train WRAP facilitators.

I’ve probably been facilitating both WRAP and Hearing Voices groups longer than most folks have even heard of either.  Now, before you think I’m full of stuff that rhymes with WRAP  let me get over myself. It’s no biggie, and I’m most likely not only the person for whom its true. Six or seven years is not that long really, and both are recent phenomena, at least in North America, where WRAP originates but where  HV is a recent immigrant and is still called “new”. I’d even wager that if you had started only fifteen minutes ago you could say it too without word of a lie.

The point of this doodle? just how new this is, how little we really know – as my voices would say “square root of f…”

I always get a chuckle out of how,  for each,  it is usually the people who’ve not been to either who are the loudest, most expert  experts and the fiercest critics – tis a truism for one as much as the other.

Setting one against t’other is a power game of division and dominance – the basic practice of fragmentation and oppression that leaves so many of us  oppressed, othered, and  struggling – and maybe ill too. It is just this kind of approach that got us into this fine mess in the first place, creating a system that has its head stuck up its own magnificence and serves so few of us well.
Let’s not.

Both WRAP and Hearing Voices are oft-touted as the next/latest fix, the next answer to all [y]our problems.
Lets not.

We cannot emancipate ourselves by copying the methods of those who oppress.
We can only take their place.
– Paolo Friere [sort of]

The Hearing Voices Network and approaches we use do not exist in the world all by their own sweet self. There are many cross-overs with others approaches that people can and already do find useful.

There are many things that are shared and many opportunities to learn from each other. For instance, a key principle in WRAP is Take only what you like, leave the rest – or as I heard it expressed just this week in a HV training- “I’m a magpie – I take the shiny stuff “. [Thanks Rai.]

I’ve come to see both approaches as similar – offering tools for liberation and emancipation that we can use to help us find and use our own power; and a set of values that help create space for learning, connecting, exploring, or just being without being judged – stuff that’s difficult to find in this world.

The emphasis is can – no one makes us, we choose for ourselves. Always.

I use WRAP as do many others  – many choose not to, and that is exactly what its about- same thing with Hearing Voices approaches..

I’d say that, likely, whatever it is you’ve been told about WRAP that you don’t like, you were likely misinformed – because it is anything you want it to be and nothing else – it is only what you want it to be and choose to work at.

The Hearing Voices charter says much the same thing- individuals make their own choices, a Hearing Voices group is designed by its members.

For each, you could almost take the name out and interchange with the other..

If you’ve been shown a different way of WRAP, then it likely was not WRAP but something that rhymes with it, and smells unpleasant. Authentically, WRAP  IS the values. And, guess what, they’re pretty much the same values as those upheld by HVN  – at least in my experience.

Some of my voices have their own WRAP – gotta whole Hearing Voices-WRAP-group thing going on in here..

I also use WRAP – and a bunch of other stuff too- with my voices It has been a powerful framework for me, working with my voices so they help me stay well rather than have them be a as much a pain in the ass [as I can be]. True, the vernacular is way more “earthy” than you might be familiar with but the basic idea is same.

I’ve run WRAP groups for people who hear voices, and I’ve run open-to-anyone -groups in which people who’ve never had a conversation about voices and “any other weird shit” find they can can be very open indeed- sharing their own stuff, finding, sharing  ways to “cope” and thrive with weird, taboo experiences they’ve never talked about before.

It’s these groups [and other stuff] that have helped build confidence to launch The Hearing Voices Cafe , which is quite similar in its openness, and it rocks the house.

Like Eleanor Longden says “we envision and enact a world that understands…”

We will not do that by insisting that only we have the answer,
Because there is no answer.

Whatever works for you.

Always be yourself, or be a unicorn – because unicorns are just cool.

Magpies are cool too,
they might even have more fun.

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2 Responses to WRAP and Hearing Voices

  1. Betsy says:

    I want to introduce both these subjects to my adult son 24yrs old w/ schizophrenia diagnosis. Not sure how to frame the info. Any advice?



    • Hi Betsy,
      not big on advice – and especially as a WRAP facilitator I’ve chosen not to give it.

      I remember how much it sucks, that “whole chorus of someones” thinking I needed to hear theirs – just like PITA voices.

      My approach is something like…

      Share information, let them know many possibilities are out there and
      many people do find their way, – most do eventually.
      There are many ways, and we get to choose and make our own…
      be like a magpie…

      Then let them choose, when they’re ready.
      And remind myself: if I want something different for them than they choose, well, that’s my monkey.


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