Ask Golden Willow

It takes a community to support health


Dear Dr. Ted: The other day I heard you at a talk in which you spoke about wraparound services. This is a term I had not heard and was hoping you could explain and expand on this concept. Thank you, Local Caregiver

Dear Caregiver, I appreciate your question and hope, if someone else was confused by this term, this article will be of value for them as well. I like that you used the term caregiver rather than caretaker as we give care to those in need and hopefully, take away levels of discomfort or distress in those times where help is needed.

Many types of professional caregivers (formal supports)are in a community, such as doctors, nurses, therapists, clergy, police, fire protection, emergency medical technicians, physical therapists, yoga instructors, teachers, massage therapists, social workers and the list continues of all the special people and agencies that allow our community to function and have services when help is needed.

Many nonprofessional caregivers (informal supports)are in a community as well, such as parents, family, friends, community parenting, volunteer programs, pets, neighbors, coaches, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, camp counselors, recovery programs, mentors and others. In your life you need different supports at different times for different reasons.

Even in your everyday life, you have many services and supports that you may not even think about, such as the traffic lights working, trash being picked up, food being available at the grocery store and all other needs you have to function and navigate the world around you.

When something happens emotionally or physically that disrupts your everyday routines, healthy or unhealthy, a need emerges for wraparound services, which means getting support services that will give you the best chance for a healthy and successful recovery, or at the minimum, increase the quality of whatever you are experiencing with less pain and fewer conscious decisions. I metaphorically see wraparound services as two open palms held together in which the person who needs help is supported by many different avenues of care and can be "held" in many different modalities to increase the chance for healing.

Think about being in hospice, in which you are in a conscious dying process. You would need emotional, physical, spiritual and cognitive support in this process to make sure a high level of formal and informal care is available to increase the quality of your dying process.

It takes an entire team to coordinate support for any person and having a team that can "wrap you up" in the best possible support is invaluable. No matter how great the team is the number one participant of the wraparound services is you, the one in need of help.

Nobody can do the healing for another person, but a team can sure help support that person. Next time you see a caregiver, let them know you appreciate them as this is something most of us take for granted.

Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat at (575) 776-2024 or

This column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.