This interview is Part 3 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): You mention the term “Brain Overload” on the Moving Forward website. What can you tell me about that term and concept?
Drs. Nezu: No matter how much people think they can “multi-task,” or do two things successfully at the same time, hundreds of research studies show the opposite—one of the activities will suffer. There is an old Buddhist saying—“the person who tries to hunt two rabbits at the same time will catch neither.” Moving Forward understands that when someone is dealing with a stressful problem, it becomes especially hard to try to keep lots of information in our brains at the same time while we are trying to solve a problem. That’s brain overload. As such, the course teaches people how to better deal with brain overload through a “Multi-Tasking Toolkit” that provides tips and suggestions on how to organize a cluttered mind.
CP3: How important is Rest & Relaxation (R&R, taking leave, time off, or vacation) when considering one’s ability to effectively problem solve?
Drs. Nezu: R&R is always a good thing! It’s an example of attempting to reduce stress by engaging in something relaxing in order to allow one’s body and brain to function more optimally. Everyday stress can take a huge toll on one’s ability to successfully solve problems, no matter how small.
CP3: Troops get trained to react quickly, take immediate action, and all these critical skills as a function of their job. During their formal military training, “mind triggers” in the form of acronyms help you remember what to do the instant you need to do it. Can you share one of the techniques Moving Forward teaches that helps participants react quickly to solve a problem?
Drs. Nezu: We teach people to use the acronym S.S.T.A., which stands for
When attempting to handle a difficult situation, we often react to the emotional arousal rather than thinking about what the best course of action would be. For example, if some someone cuts us off while driving on a busy road, we may react with anger instead of “stopping and slowing down”—a more reasonable approach with fewer negative consequences. Therefore, learning and using the S.S.T.A. method can be very helpful. Veterans and Servicemembers undergoing the Moving Forward program have typically suggested that learning this approach is one of best things about the program.
CP3: Is the Moving Forward training program a case-study type program where participants read about other people’s problem solving situations OR is this more of a hands-on, interactive, personalized, real-world experience?
Drs. Nezu: It is both. Moving Forward features stories based on real Veterans’ experiences that guides the user through the program. In addition, the course includes a lot of hands-on activities, lessons and exercises aimed at fostering one’s overall ability to deal with everyday stress and overcome those difficulties that may be holding them back from achieving important life goals.
CP3: Does this program involve any group discussion? With Families involved or a significant other, how do you encourage participation and mutual support?
Drs. Nezu: The program can be used individually by a Veteran or Servicemember, though we encourage families to review modules together if they are comfortable doing so. The learnings from this course can be useful to anyone.
As professors of psychology and medicine at Drexel University, we understand that everyone wants similar things—to be happy, confident and comfortable. When people are equipped with tools to work towards those goals, not only can their goals be achieved more easily but the journey to get there is richer and more meaningful as well. The learnings from Moving Forward can help anyone improve their overall wellness.
CP3: Is there a specific time limit for Moving Forward? Is there a Start/Finish date to participate or is this more of a long-term resource that’s designed to provide problem solving tools for life?
Drs. Nezu: It can be both! It was set up to allow people to use it according to their own pace. They are encouraged to come back for a refresher anytime they want.
CP3: What kind of results and success have Veterans, Servicemembers, and Families seen with Moving Forward?
Drs. Nezu: As mentioned earlier, PST as a psychosocial intervention has been found to be very effective in helping a wide range of individuals experiencing a wide range of health and emotional health problems. Such research has been ongoing for the past several decades. With specific regard to Moving Forward, a recent evaluation has shown that hundreds of Veterans have experienced significant improvements in their overall problem-solving ability, emotional health, interpersonal relationships and resilience.
CP3: Any additional comments?
Drs. Nezu: The Moving Forward website also has a large number of additional resources that can be of help for Veterans and Servicemembers. It is user-friendly, entertaining, educational, skill building and fun! But rather than reading about—try it out!
CP3: Thank you for your willingness to share the Moving Forward story with the GOING CIVILIAN Community!
Previous posts in this series:
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