Imagine for a moment that you go to the auto mechanic with a flat tire. The mechanic analyzes the situation, removes the old tire, and puts on a brand-new one. However, as you drive away, you are shocked when the tire flies off! You ask yourself, “It’s a brand-new tire. How could this have happened?” It is only then that you discover that the mechanic forgot to tighten one of the lug nuts. It doesn’t matter how intact everything else is; if one part is not aligned, then the entire unit can fail. This is the same concept that the “awareness wheel” brings to recovery.

For recovery to best succeed, many aspects have to come together in unison. For example, if someone is struggling with substance use disorder (SUD), they may need therapy, meditation, or 12-Step meetings to best recover. Another example is that when someone is examining a single issue or event, they will need to address it from multiple angles. This is where the awareness wheel comes in.

The awareness wheel can be used to achieve knowledge and understanding of our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we use the awareness wheel to help our students address their issues thoughtfully and thoroughly instead of reverting to their automatic reactions that are unproductive.

How Is the Awareness Wheel Used?

We use the awareness wheel to help our students analyze a topic or subject they are struggling with. The subject is broken down into five parts: 

  • Facts
  • Interpretations
  • Feelings
  • Wants
  • Actions

By breaking a problem down into these five parts, a student can get a better understanding of where this problem is arising in the mind, how they are apt to process it, and what emotions are brought about by it. Most importantly, the awareness wheel helps our students reframe the problem so they can change their behavior when reacting to it.

As was represented in the tire analogy, the awareness wheel only works if all five parts are given equal attention. If one part slips away, then the entire wheel loses its construction and the topic won’t have been fully addressed. However, when the awareness wheel is used as intended, it can be a boon to a student’s overall recovery.

Understanding the Awareness Wheel for Recovery

To better understand the awareness wheel, let us use an example. Let us say the topic one of our students needs to address is “anger toward my parents.”

Finding Facts

First, we need to look at the facts. Why is the student angry at their parents? What did their parent do to make them so upset? Let us say the conclusion she arrives at is this fact: “They wouldn’t let me stay out past my curfew.”

What’s the Interpretation?

Second, we look at the interpretation. What is the student’s interpretation of why the parents decided to make that decision? Perhaps the student decides that this is because she has stayed out late in the past and made risky decisions.

Identifying the Feelings

Third, we look at the feelings associated with this problem. We ask how this makes the student feel. We call this being “glad, sad, mad, or afraid.” It is important to get to the depth of emotions that this occurrence triggered. They may be mad that they couldn’t stay out, but also mad that they don’t feel trusted. They may be mad at the situation, but perhaps more importantly, mad that their independence is being threatened. They may also be afraid that they will not be able to gain their parent’s trust back.

Locating the Wants

Fourth, what are their wants? What do they want to happen? Yes, most likely they want to be allowed to stay out after curfew. But, they also don’t want to be quickly dismissed. They want to be heard. They don’t want to feel like they are a minimized part of the family.

Choosing Appropriate Actions

Fifth, how are they going to act? This is important because the connected parts of the wheel have allowed them to get to this “action” step with a better sense of awareness regarding the issue. With a new sense of awareness, rather than acting out, they can conclude that they need to take certain actions to regain their parent’s trust. They need to communicate better. They will do so by showing less risky behavior in the future.

Maintaining Awareness in Long Term Recovery

Many parents come to Clearview Girls Academy because they feel like they are losing control over their daughter and the wheels are starting to come off. If this is you too, then we want you to know that we understand.

We know what it is like to go offroad for a while, but we also know there is a way to get back on track. Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we have the tools and resources to can help light your daughter’s path down the road of recovery (with all four wheels intact).

The awareness wheel is a tool that can be utilized to gain insight and understanding of our emotions, thought processes, and behaviors. Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we use this model to help our students work through their issues thoughtfully and positively, rather than reverting to an automatic negative reaction. When the awareness wheel is employed properly, it has been shown to help with communication skills, self-reflection, and gaining a better understanding of external stimuli. If your daughter is struggling to wither her mental health, the awareness wheel may be one of the tools that can help her recover. Don’t wait. We are here to help. Please call Clearview Girls Academy today at (888) 796-5484 for more information.