We Still Love John

October 15, 2009

Solution Presentation

Filed under: #4: solution presentation — welovejohn @ 1:18 am

We propose an amalgamation of cognitive therapy infused with the essences of positive psychology and resilience. Because John cannot control his external environment, i.e. his parents’ marital disputes and his teachers’ prejudices against him, it is imperative for him to effectively manage and regulate his internal landscape as this is the only way he can successfully change for the better. Positive thinking is of utmost salience to John because he is arrested in extreme negativity and learned helplessness coupled with potent dosages of cognitive distortions like catastrophization, magnification/minimization, overgeneralization and absolutist all-or-nothing thinking. Thus, John has to be taught positive psychology in combination with cognitive therapy, as cognitive therapy per se might not be value-added and positively constructive enough to equip him with a solid set of positive thinking skills that keeps him healthily self-sufficient and autonomous in the face of future problems.

This solution can be implemented with particular emphasis on teasing out John’s expectations and core beliefs in the cognitive therapy process of Socratic questioning. Knowing his expectations and beliefs enables us to identify his cognitive distortions and inculcate a more resilient disposition by inviting him to look at his own fears and question, “What’s the worst that can happen?” and “How likely is it that this will pan out?” so as to allow him to gauge if his expectations are realistic. From here, a natural lead-on would be to encourage John to re-cognise his erroneous perceptions through more Socratic questioning and methods like thought diary so as to help him dispose his maladaptive thoughts that do not help him to cope. This creates space for positive, adaptive and logical thinking that taps on his strengths and virtues. Asking him to articulate his fears also helps in his metacognition that sharpens his individual control of behaviour and emotions, and, integrated with positive thinking, Seligman’s conception of positive psychology as a balanced psychology will create a healthier and happier John founded not on idealistic abstraction, but on his inalienable reality.

Nevertheless, this solution presupposes two important make-or-break factors: (1) John’s willingness to share his problems and withstand Socratic questioning; (2) Discipline to carry out metacognitive reasoning and keeping documents like a thought diary. Having already been maligned and abused in school and at home, cognitive therapy might initially turn John’s sensitive and bruised soul away because it seems like another form of mental torture that ostensibly downplays the grim realities of his situation and implies that he is ‘wrong’. Because of these reasons, any practical experiment of our solution with John-like characters must be undertaken with utmost gentleness and care, as a wrong delivery might spurn John off educational psychologists for good. Also, John does not seem to possess the discipline and rigour needed to monitor his thought and emotional processes. Instead, it might seem like judgmental homework to him, and he might be put off the healing process.

The pros of our solution have been enumerated constantly over the course of this e-portfolio, and the cons have been described in the above paragraph, so I will not elaborate. For consequences, John will never learn to be an independent regulator of his feelings if our solution excludes cognitive therapy, but if we exclude positive psychology and resilience, he will never discover his strengths and virtues and always think that he is worthless. As such, a good balance and integration of cognitive therapy with positive psychology and resilience are vital for an optimally functioning John who grows to have faith in his self-worth.

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