Problem Solving as a Wellness Tool

Minutes for NAMI PA, Main Line Speaker Meeting, September 12, 2005, presented by Edie Mannion

Edie Mannion, M.F.T., co-founder of the Training and Education Center (TEC) of the Mental Health Partnerships, presented an informative, interactive session which described and demonstrated effective approaches to problem-solving. Problem-solving promotes wellness for individuals with mental illness and their family members. People who cope effectively with problems tend to work on one problem at a time, learn from mistakes, abandon what does not work, and stay open to suggestions from others.

When a problem arises, emotions can be strong, so the first step is to calm down and remember to use problem-solving strategies.

In order to solve problems, it is important to
— work on one problem at a time,
— be specific about your problem (since it is much harder or impossible to solve vague or general problems), and
— identify how the problem is a problem for you (what are the real issues you need to address?).

Once you have identified the specific problem you want to tackle first, use the P.O.W. approach.

P is for past experience. As Ms. Mannion explained, “List everything you or anyone has already tried for dealing with this problem. Circle any that were even partially successful and cross out what has not worked.”

O is for listing other options. Try to come up with multiple, diverse ideas for other options by creative brainstorming and asking others. Think “outside the box”, including considering the idea of doing nothing.

W is for deciding what to do. Choose two or three of the new options that you think are the best approach at present and try them. Also, continue with the circled partially successful previous approaches.

If you would like to learn more and apply this approach to your own problems, you are invited to participate in one of the family problem-solving/support groups sponsored by TEC. Visit their website for meeting days, times and locations. https://www.mentalhealthpartnerships.org/tec

For more information call 215-751-1800, extension 232.

Respectfully submitted,
Ingrid Waldron

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