Sunday, May 31, 2009

Problem solving-essential for stress management

Problem solving involves finding our way towards a goal. The object of problem solving is usually a solution, answer or conclusion. The capacity to solve problems successfully in the real world is a crucial component for one's well-being. Learning these skills helps us to improve our ability to cope with stress. Problem solving,
• Forms part of thinking.
• Most complex of all intellectual functions
• Higher-order cognitive process
• Fundamental skills

Common steps in problem solving
1. Problem orientation
2. Problem definition and formulation
3. Generation of solutions
4. Decision-making
5. Solution implementation and verification.

But the traditional information- processing model defined problem solving as a series of cognitive skills in problem identification, goal setting, finding suitable solutions and evaluating problem-solving outcomes, but largely ignored the motivational, affective and behavioural aspects of problem solving.
Ineffective problem solving and hasty decision making are more likely leads to emotional distress and stressful pay off. We need to develop systematic approach when we are dealing with complex real life problems.
Why some problems are complex
1. Conflicting motives
2. Uncertain, ambiguous situation
3. Risk involved
4. Different perspectives/ point of views
5. Many people involved
6. Different solution

1. Lack of knowledge / skills
2. Personal / social factors- values, attitudes, emotion, expectation, pressure
3. Cognitive errors –rigid, impulsive thinking pattern
4. Poor emotional regulation –mood swing, aggression
5. Lack of social perception
6. Lack of motivation
7. Poor self regulation

Social Problems
Any situation that brings forth feelings of discomfort such as conflict, stress, anxiety etc. resulting from interaction or relationships with others. Social Problems including,
Impersonal problems such as-financial problems
Personal problems such as – emotional, behavioural problems
Interpersonal problems such as – marital, family conflict,
Social problems such as – violence, racial discrimination 
Social problem solving
The self-directed cognitive-behavioural-affective processes by which a person attempts to identify or discover effective or adaptive solutions for specific problems encountered in everyday living.
The interpersonal cognitive problem-solving
Ability to generate a number of alternative solutions to a conflict
Ability to choose and implement an appropriate solution to a conflict
Understanding and consideration of the social consequences of one’s actions for oneself and others.

The ways we approach our problems
Social problem solving becomes ineffective when it is dominated by a negative attitude towards problem solving, impulsiveness and acting out behaviour, or extreme delay and avoidance.
(1) Positive Problem Orientation - an optimistic attitude to tackling problems;
(2) Negative Problem Orientation -a pessimistic attitude to solving problems
(3) Rational Problem Solving -a systematic approach to solving problems, including problem definition, problem analysis, and generation of alternative solutions
(4) Impulsive/Careless Style -an ill-thought-out and hurried approach to solving problems
(5) Avoidance Style -a tendency to procrastinate, blame others, or depend on others to solve one’s problems.
Problem-solving therapy 
Training individuals to become better problem solvers in order to facilitate their ability to cope with stressful situations has been referred to in the psychotherapy and counseling literature as social problem solving therapy in order to highlight the social and interpersonal context in which real-life problem solving occurs. Teaching social problem solving skills has become a common feature of programs designed to prevent and remediate discipline problems. Therapy concentrates on counteracting impulsivity, defining problems, generating solutions, encouraging consequential thinking and developing means–end action planning.