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Foundations of the TWWP Approach to Wellness

  1. Dimensions of Wellness and The Six Selves

  2. Self-Compassion

  3. Self-Determination Theory

1.  Dimensions of Wellness & Six Selves

I began teaching wellness courses at the university level in 2003 and taught my last wellness course in 2017. Over the 14 years, texts varied, but all used a Dimensions of Wellness (DOW) approach. It is the most common model of wellness, used by the Global Wellness Institute and the National Wellness Institute.


Specific dimensions vary based upon author, but all DOW models are grounded in the idea that we are multi-dimensional beings and therefore may be sick, healthy, or well in each of those dimensions. Further, if we are not well, or suffer in one or more of dimensions, all dimensions may be impacted in a negative way because while distinct, DOW are not separate, but rather an interconnected web.


I see our DOW like a kaleidoscope, a work of art that may shift dynamically one moment to the next based on a variety of stimuli. The drawing on the HOME page is my interpretation of that kaleidoscope.


One night, a friend's comment triggered a new way of looking at wellness: Wellness is another term for living life to the fullest - joyous living wherever, whenever possible. It's another way to reflect on all the amazing parts of us, hence, multiple selves... six selves.


We are multi-dimensional beings... Seeing ourselves this way, comprised of six identifiable "selves," can help us to understand how we feel, think, act, and react. We can locate the source of our suffering, pain or discomfort much easier, and move on to healing, which leads to the next piece of the puzzle...

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2.  Self-Compassion

My journey into Self-Compassion (SC) began in 2012, as I contemplated my dissertation topic. I read a study that evaluated the relationship between SC and performance in female college athletes, and I was hooked. 


I spent the next two years reading everything about SC that I could find. I attended a workshop retreat lead by Kristen Neff, the researcher who created the psychological construct, and her colleague, Chris Germer, who together developed a Mindful Self-Compassion Program to help improve quality of life for practitioners.


SC changed my life. The simple idea that all human beings are worthy of kindness, love and respect, without DOING a thing eased my heart and mind in a way I cannot fully describe.

Research on SC continues to increase globally, and findings show SC facilitates positive changes in behavior including: increases in physical activity, more healthful eating, devoting time to self-care, and decreases in substance abuse 


My dissertation research confirmed such findings: a strong positive correlation exists between self-compassion, positive body image and exercise levels in middle-aged women.


My personal experience and observation of students and colleagues has proven to me that SC is integral to developing a positive comprehensive approach to caring for our six selves, and creating time and space to engage in self-care when we need it the most.


For these reasons, Self-Compassion is the cornerstone of my approach to wellness, and informs all of my materials, workshops and events!

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3.  Self-Determination Theory

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) provides a basis for understanding human behavior.  It was developed in the 1980's by researchers Deci & Ryan and includes many sub-theories.

Primary assumptions of SDT are:

  • Human beings have three basic needs:

    • Competence (confidence + ability will allow success)

    • Autonomy (control of situation or circumstance)

    • Relatedness (common ground, like-minded people)

  • We are naturally motivated to meet these needs.

  • We choose activities that help us meet these needs.

  • Motivation is key to human behavior, and exists on a continuum from a complete lack of motivation to do something (amotivation), to an innate desire to do it (intrinsic motivation).

  • Intrinsic motivation leads to creation of habits.

The more we understand about where our Six Selves stand regarding Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness, in any given situation, the more ability we have to make positive transformative changes in our lives. Also, this understanding can enable us to make difficult choices about letting go of things that do not serve us and adding in to our lives those that do.  


SDT grounds all offerings created at The Whole Wellness Project.


Competence: Workshops are designed to help all participants feel they can successfully engage with concepts, materials and other attendees without fear of failure of any kind. 

Autonomy: Workshops are conducted to allow participants the greatest degree of choice in how they engage, when they engage, and to what degree they engage.

Relatedness: Dr T (or any guest host) facilitates each workshop to allow for connection among participants and between participants and herself.


A good workshop is one where participants feel comfortable to share, and are respectful of each other. Expectations are always set at the beginning of each offering to ensure this comfort. Ultimately, we are most likely to do what we enjoy, and I hope to create Joyous offerings!

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