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The Wheel of Wellness:
A Theoretical Model

The Wheel of Wellness model, first introduced by Sweeney and Witmer in 1991 and Witmer & Sweeney in 1992 was the first theoretical model of wellness based in counseling theory. It is an integrative model based on Adler’s Individual Psychology and cross- disciplinary research on characteristics of healthy people who live longer and with a higher quality of life. The Wheel includes five interrelated life tasks: spirituality, self-direction, work and leisure, friendship, and love. When first proposed, the model included 7 subtasks of self-direction. Incorporating new research, Myers, Sweeney, and Witmer (2000; Figure 1) presented the Wheel with 12 subtasks in this area: sense of worth, sense of control, realistic beliefs, emotional awareness and management, problem solving and creativity, sense of humor, nutrition, exercise, self‑care, stress management, gender identity, and cultural identity.

Wheel of Wellness modelThe Wheel is conceptualized as a circumplex, with spirituality at the core as the central and most important characteristic of a healthy person. The tasks of self-direction are conceptualized as functioning similar to spokes in a wheel—that is, they provide the self-management necessary to meet successfully the requirements of Adler's major life tasks, work, friendship, and love, as well as spirituality and self (Mosak & Dreikurs, 1967). The components of individual wellness described all operate within the contexts of family, community, government, media, business and industry, education, and religion. In addition, global events influence individual wellness.

The components of the Wheel of Wellness are measured using the Wellness Evaluation of Lifestyle (WEL), a 123-item instrument available from Mindgarden.com. The scales of the WEL are not factors. These scales are not equivalent to the scales of the 5F-Wel, which are factor derived through statistical analysis. Clinicians and researches using the WEL are cautioned in presenting their results to report scales in lower case only per the 5th edition of the APA Style Manual as the WEL scales are not factors, and to report psychometrics on the WEL from the WEL Manual. 

 

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