This interview is a continuation of the interview with Drs. Art and Christine Nezu.
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):
Servicemembers train to a standard and work in an environment that includes a strong “mental toughness” culture. Mission accomplishment is a way of life and one might think that dealing with problems would be relatively easy. What’s the reality in the lives of Servicemembers when it comes to problem solving?
Drs. Nezu: Military training teaches individuals a variety of tools to be able to survive under very difficult circumstances, including combat. However, many of these skills do not necessarily translate in civilian life.
Knowing what one’s mission is in civilian life can be difficult, particularly if one is used to having a very well defined mission in military life. Many of these concerns and others lead to emotional reactions from Veterans, Servicemembers or their family members. Our approach aims to help people better manage their negative emotional reactions in order to achieve their goals.
CP3: How do you get the Chain of Command involved in order to support the Moving Forward program?
Drs. Nezu: DoD and VA are working together on numerous mental health priorities. It is a well-recognized need to prioritize providing accessible and effective mental health services to the growing number of Servicemembers and Veterans. DoD has helped promote the course, but beyond that we haven’t dealt too much with the chain of command. We are trying to make sure that mental health professionals, chaplains, social workers and others within DoD and VA as well as civilian providers know that Moving Forward is available.
CP3: How is the Moving Forward program setup?
Drs. Nezu: The web course is set up so that the user can start and stop whenever he/she wishes. It contains eight modules that guides the user through a series of videos, exercises, games, interactive activities and resources all geared to teach people how to deal more effectively with stress and other problems related to adjusting to civilian life or concerns associated with being a Servicemember.
Specific tools within the program help people to (a) overcome “brain overload” (see below), (b) manage negative emotions more effectively, (c) motivate oneself to overcome feelings of hopelessness and (d) use a mindful approach to solving problems. The course is set up to teach these skills via demonstration, interactive games and videos. Various self-tests are included to help people learn how much stress they are under and what type of problem solver they are. “Knowledge is Power”—and the course is geared to place as much power and control over one’s future as possible.
CP3: How do you help Veterans, Servicemembers and their Families create a “mindset that’s open to change”? With such a unique group of people accustomed to high levels of stress, success and achievement, you’d think this must be carefully managed and developed for the individual needs of each group.
Drs. Nezu: Change, particularly after serving, is inevitable. Moving Forward teaches practical life skills that help Veterans and Servicemembers overcome the challenges and obstacles these changes bring. It’s similar to learning how to play tennis, cook a gourmet meal, create an effective resume, learn to drive a car, etc.
Though not everyone faces the exact same problems, the stories and exercises within Moving Forward are based off feedback from real Veterans and Servicemembers and are designed to be relatable so that users can see themselves throughout the course. Veterans and Servicemembers will learn how these basic life skills have helped and improved the lives and outlook of many people in similar situations.
To read the part one of this interview, visit Are You Ready To Move Forward? Interview with Dr. Art & Christine Nezu
Look for part three of this interview coming next week.
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