Ever need help making sound decisions or dealing with stress? This is something we all face from time-to-time. Looking back on my own personal journey during the Military-to-Civilian career transition, a fine program such as the Moving Forward program would have provided invaluable support, saved me time, and shortened the time it took to reach my goals.
Drs. Art and Christine Nezu, who are both professors of psychology and medicine at Drexel University in Philadelphia, are consultants to The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). They have developed several problem-solving training programs for VA and The Department of Defense (DoD), including the content of the Moving Forward: Overcoming Life’s Challenges web course described below.
Charles “Chazz” Pratt III (CP3): Tell us about Moving Forward and how you got involved with this program.
Drs. Art and Christine Nezu (Drs. Nezu): We co-developed a psychosocial intervention called Problem-Solving Therapy or PST, which is an evidenced-based therapy that is effective in helping people who experience a wide range of health and behavioral health problems. PST focuses on teaching individuals a variety of skills that can help them more effectively reach important life goals such as overcoming various emotional difficulties or trying to decide which path to take in the future.
Several years ago, VA asked if PST could be tailored to meet the needs of Veterans who may be experiencing difficulties adjusting to civilian life and to reduce the risk of developing further problems. In response, we developed a four-session, life-coaching classroom experience called Moving Forward that has been offered throughout large numbers of VA medical centers since 2010. Due to its popularity and user-friendliness, VA and DoD decided to develop a web course that goes by the same name in order to increase its accessibility to thousands of Veterans and Servicemembers. And that’s how Moving Forward: Overcoming Life’s Challenges, the web course, was born!
CP3: Are there any limitations on who can access and benefit from Moving Forward?
Drs. Nezu: No. Although the web course was specifically developed for Veterans, Servicemembers and their families, it can be useful for everyone. And because it is free, anyone can access it.
CP3: It appears that you’ve created a user-friendly, real-world, problem-solving program. What considerations did you take in making this the right fit for Veterans, Servicemembers and their families?
Drs. Nezu: An integral part of the Moving Forward program involved continuously soliciting feedback from Veterans and the Moving Forward instructors to understand what was helpful and what was not. Such information gleaned over the course of several years led not only to various revisions of the original Moving Forward program but greatly informed the web course’s development as well.
Additionally, we recognized the need to develop an accessible and confidential resource for Veterans and Servicemembers. This course provides military personnel with a safe place to learn skills to make good decisions, particularly when feeling stressed or anxious.
CP3: What common obstacles does each target group tend to need help with?
Drs. Nezu: Veterans and Servicemembers face many of the same obstacles we all can struggle with like relationship issues, financial concerns and feeling overwhelmed. These frustrations can be compounded as Veterans and Servicemembers work through transitional phases, such as returning from deployment and adjusting to civilian life when dealing with emotional or physical challenges.
Moving Forward is designed to help Veterans and Servicemembers learn essential problem-solving skills to face and try to overcome life’s challenges. Those dealing with feelings of anxiety, loneliness, guilt, sadness or anger will learn ways to face problems and make good decisions. Moving Forward aims to give Veterans and Servicemembers resources to help them feel in better control of their situations and futures.
CP3: With all the available information on problem solving found on the Internet, what makes Moving Forward unique and individualized for a Military Person?
Drs. Nezu: Moving Forward is based on years of experience working with Veterans and getting to know their particular needs and concerns. It incorporates stories of actual Veterans who have gone through the face-to-face program and found it to be very helpful.
All people are different; Veterans and Servicemembers are also different. It is a mistake to stereotype and group people based on a certain characteristic. Our approach to problem solving is heavily based on the idea that “no size fits all” and people have to find the best solution for themselves.
CP3: How do you get started in learning more about problem solving with Moving Forward? What’s the first step?
Drs. Nezu: People can visit the website (www.VeteranTraining.VA.gov/MovingForward) on their own or with a trusted family member or support system. They will get the most out of the course if they take it in order as the skills build on one another. But it is their choice and are free to go right into a module that looks most useful to them. Additionally, users can leave and return to the course at their convenience.
Look for part two of this interview coming up next week here in the Member Community.
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