The practical application of Spoon Theory: How to know when to push through or when to ease off

Spoon Theory is a concept that was developed by folks navigating physical barriers to explain to able-bodied folks why task-based expectations may need to be adjusted to the individual. This workshop looks at the application of this concept to better understand how mental health barriers can lead to significant fluctuations in a person's capacity and how to apply that understanding to creating flexible plans for successful completion of goals.

It can be can be incredibly challenging as a support person or educator to understand why a task was easy one day and hard the next, or why folks can seem inconsistent in how they feel about a task. Fluctuations in mental health can impact capacity with a frequency that can send our heads spinning. Navigating fatigue, overwhelm, lack of motivation, and aversion can make it exceptionally challenging to keep youth engaged and moving forward.

Spoon Theory can help folks better understand and communicate their needs or barriers, as their capacity changes throughout the day, week, semester, or year. By looking at "spoon usage" one can create strategies that are flexible, trauma informed, and realistic. It can also help folks identify "spoon replenishers" that can help keep momentum going when experiencing a "high spoon usage" day.

As educators and support people, we can often find ourselves stuck between wanting to compassionately allow for rest and knowing that avoidance patterns can lead to additional barriers to success. We are often working with specific time frames for completion, yet, we can also see the distress that comes from pushing through when the capacity to do so is diminished. In many situations, Spoon Theory can help us create a better balance.

Target Audience



10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

This session is full.


  • Adsum Counselling
    Thea Jardine

    Thea has been in the field of mental health for 20 years. She first started in school-based addiction prevention then moved to working with street involved youth in New Westminster, Burnaby, and Vancouver. Thea has worked in the downtown Eastside with both adults and youth before switching to Vancouver Coastal Health's Child and Youth Mental Health team. 3 years ago Thea made the move to Private Practice and started her own Clinic. Thea specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR.