The Coping Strategy Wheels - PositivePsychology

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Transcription Positive Psychology ToolkitThe Coping Strategy WheelsCopingOverviewn/aPractitionerYesA coping strategy refers to “how people respond to stress as they contend with real-lifeproblems” (Skinner & Zimmer-Gembeck, 2007, p. 124). In a review of the coping literature,Skinner and colleagues identified over 100 assessments covering 400 ways of coping(Skinner et al., 2003). Researchers have repeatedly attempted to categorize these differentways of coping, such as problem-focused versus emotion-focused coping, approachversus avoidance, and different modes of coping (active versus passive, cognitive versusbehavioral). However, these categorizations are often too general and fail to cover themultiple purposes served by each way of coping.In reviewing 44 studies on coping and coping strategies that individuals develop frominfancy through adolescence, Skinner and Zimmer-Gembeck (2007) structured the widerange of coping strategies and identified twelve general, most frequently appearinghierarchical categories of coping. The referred to these categories as “coping families.” Thetwelve families are conceptually clear, mutually exclusive, and exhaustive. Although thereis not a complete consensus that these are the core categories of coping, they do allowfor easy categorization of the most commonly used coping strategies. This tool offers agraphical representation of Skinner’s coping families.GoalThe goal of this tool is to provide a clear categorization of the most commonly used copingstrategies. The categorization presented here can be used to detect the client’s unhelpfulcoping strategies and introduce more effective alternatives.Advice In this overview, a general distinction is made between adaptive and non-adaptivecoping strategies. It is important to note that this distinction is artificial and is stronglydependent on the problem and the situation at hand. Even the strategies that are listedhere as “non-adaptive” can be adaptive in some situations. For example, if stressors,such as a conflict between parents, are uncontrollable, it may be adaptive for a child toescape (to stay out of the conflict). Or if a bully is relentless and no adults are availableto help, it may be adaptive to submit (to prevent injury). In other words, given thecircumstances, every possible way of coping can be appropriate, adaptive, or “right.” Inthe same way, strategies that are listed here as “adaptive” can be highly non-adaptive[1] Positive Psychology Toolkitunder certain conditions. Any kind of adaptive strategy that is being overused orused in the wrong way is likely to become counterproductive. For instance, althoughinformation may generally promote positive outcomes, excessive information seekingcan be a form of over-control aimed at controlling something that lies beyond personalcontrol. For instance, by constantly reading about the causes and dangers of insomnia,a client may try to get a grip on his sleeping problems. However, a more adaptivecoping strategy in this situation might be to let go of control (one cannot control sleep)rather than increase it. When assessing the client’s coping strategies, it is thereforeimportant to address the “why,” “when,” “how,” and whether it serves the client. The different coping styles outlined in this tool represent the dominant ways of copingin specific domains. For example, information-seeking is most likely to occur whenfacing health-related problems, and negotiation is most commonly used in dealingwith interpersonal stressors. It is important to realize that many factors, such as the specific stressors and demands,individual appraisals, and currently available personal and social resources, influence aclient’s reason for using a certain coping style. It is advisable to address these factorsto get a “full picture” of the client’s situation, options, and obstacles.References Skinner, E. (2007). Coping assessment. In S. Ayers, A. Baum, C. McManus, S.Newman, K. Wallston, J. Weinman, et al. (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Psychology,Health and Medicine (pp. 245-250). Cambridge University Press. Skinner, E. A., & Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J. (2007). The development of coping. AnnualReview of Psychology, 58, 119-144.[2] Positive Psychology ToolkitThe Coping Strategy WheelsInstructionsUnderstanding the coping wheelsFig. 1 and Fig. 2 displayed on page 4 and page 5 provide an overview of 41 common ways of coping (outerrim of the wheel) and the twelve families to which these coping strategies belong (the second rim of thewheel). First, we explain in detail how to interpret both wheels. Second, we describe the twelve copingfamilies in more detail.Instances of copingAn instance of coping is a specific action that a person may take to deal with a stressor. For instance, aperson may read a book on stress management to learn how to deal better with stress. Or a child may playthe video game “Tetris” to distract him/herself from his/her arguing parents. Thus, this is the most concreteand specific way of defining coping. It is the answer to the question, “What did you do exactly to deal withthis situation?” There is virtually an unlimited number of coping instances. Note that Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 do notinclude instances of coping.Ways of copingA way of coping is a broader category of coping that explains specific coping instances. For instance, readinga book on stress management falls under the way of coping named “reading.” Playing the video game “Tetris”is a way of coping that is referred to as “distraction.” In Fig. 1 and Fig. 2., a total of 41 common ways of copingare summarized in the outer rim of both wheels.Coping familiesA coping family is defined as the general action tendency that ] each of the specific ways of coping, whichbelong to this family, share. For instance, reading, observations, and asking others all share the same actiontendency “information seeking” and thus belong to the coping family “information seeking.” The twelvecoping families are displayed in the second rim of the wheels displayed in Fig. 1 and Fig 2.The focus or lack of focus of a familyThe inner rim of both wheels displays the main focus or lack of focus of the twelve coping families. The innerrim of the green wheel represents the focus of the six adaptive coping families. The inner rim of the redwheel represents the lack of focus that is characterized by the six non-adaptive coping families. For instance,the focus of the coping strategies that fall under the adaptive family “information seeking” is “action.” Thesecoping strategies all involve some kind of action-taking. The lack of focus of the “personal abilities” copingstrategies falls under the non-adaptive “delegation” family.” These coping strategies all involve a lack of usingpersonal abilities to deal with stressors.[3] Positive Psychology Toolkitingrumacti entalonplanninstemotionhapproacalonoti ionem resspexbehreg avioula urtionstrategizingFig. 1. The wheel of adaptive coping strategiesingadrePROLEMLVINGALSNSRTOPPSErtfomgco kineseTIOTIAOGNEbanspiritualsupportnginiargcogrest nitiveructuringminimizationaccesu ptarre ncnd e/ersiosuapersettingCOPINGFAMILIYprioritytrumaid entalGINinsnNEKFOCUSdistractioODATIOAVAIOPT LABIO LENSSO CIAUR LCESasking othersN ORTINGSOWAY OF COPING[4] Positive Psychology Toolkitnginicoginte nitiverferencecoex gnitihaus vetionHELPLNEOSSSSUNOTILAOISOnper hotlngtionjecpronaggressioLACK OFFOCUSruminatiomiconcealmblaentIONSITPPOwishful thinkingIONAVAIPT LABIO LENSOingavoidsother-NESO CIAUR i cenngco idaoralavouivcehabe idanoavldeniaISSiniPERAB SONILIT ALIESplaDELEGATIcomBMwhself-pityconfusionFig. 2. The wheel of non-adaptive coping strategiesCOPINGFAMILYWAY OF COPING[5] Positive Psychology ToolkitAdaptive coping familiesThere are six adaptive (the second rim of the green wheel in Fig. 1) and six non-adaptive (the second rim ofthe red wheel in Fig. 2) coping families. Below we describe these families in detail.Self-comfortingDescriptionActive attempts at self-care and regulation of distress through, for example,acceptance of emotions, self-soothing, and constructively expressing emotions atthe appropriate time and place.FocusPersonal abilitiesKeywordsSelf-focus, responsibility, approach, self-encouragement, self-soothing, emotionalcontrol, relaxation, authentic emotional expressionExamples I take responsibility for my actionsI recognize my emotions and prevent them from guiding my actionsI allow my emotions to be present without acting upon themI can regulate my emotions effectivelyI can act compassionately towards myself when I fail at somethingProblem-solvingDescriptionTaking actions to solve the problem at hand effectivelyFocusActionsKeywordsActive coping, watch and learn, mastery, efficacy, primary control coping, repairExamples I concentrate my efforts on doing something about the problem.I take additional action to try to get rid of the problemI take direct action to get around the problem.I do what has to be done, one step at a time.Information-seekingDescriptionSeek information that can help deal with the problem. Trying to find out more abouta stressful situation or condition, including its course, causes, consequences, andmeanings, as well as learning about strategies for intervention and remediation.FocusActionsKeywordsCuriosity, interest, love of learningExamples I try to get advice from someone about what to do. I read to find out more about the problematic situation. I observe people who have had similar experiences to learn what they did.[6] Positive Psychology ToolkitAccommodationDescriptionFlexibly adjusting preferences to the options available in stressful conditions. Thisallows individuals to maintain their flexibility and autonomy even under coercivecircumstances.FocusAvailable options and preferencesKeywordsRealism, psychological flexibility, situational adjustment, secondary control coping,acceptance/surrenderExamples I accept that this has happened and that it cannot be changed. I realistically consider the available options and base my choices on this. I know when I am having irrational or unhelpful thoughts, and I can observe themor challenge them. When I am confronted with a problem, I remind myself that there are worse thingsin the world.NegotiationDescriptionNegotiation refers to active attempts to work out a compromise between thepriorities of the individual and the constraints of the situation. Negotiation is aboutfinding new options and positively engaging with the stressor. The focus is on firmlydefending one’s goals while flexibly examining or creating options for realizing them.FocusAvailable optionsKeywordsPriority-setting, proposing a compromise, persuasion, constructive resistance,defending one’s goals, standing firm, indignation, reducing demands, trade-offs,deal-makingExamples When arguing with someone, I try to find a solution that works for both parties. When a situation turns out different than expected, I consider both the limitationsand available options and the most optimal way to still get what I want. When my vision and another person’s vision seem to diverge, I am willing to listenand try to negotiate in a way that still allows me to pursue my goals as much aspossible in that situation.Support SeekingDescriptionTurning to other people in the face of stressful events. Using available socialresources to deal with the problem.FocusSocial resourcesKeywordsProximity-seeking, yearning, other alliance, solace-seeking, help-seeking, seekinginstrumental support, seeking emotional support[7] Positive Psychology ToolkitExamples I talk to someone who could do something concrete about the problem.I discuss my feelings with someone.I try to get emotional support from friends or relatives.I talk to someone about how I feel.Non-adaptive coping familiesBelow, we describe the 6 non-adaptive coping families in detail.DelegationDescriptionOver-reliance on other people in dealing with stressful situations. It has thedisadvantage of using up others’ resources as well as preventing the individual fromdeveloping his or her full capacities. There is a desire to be carried by the supportiveother accompanied by overwhelming self-absorption, focus on the distressingaspects of the situation, and surrender to self-pity.Lack of FocusPersonal abilitiesKeywordsOverwhelmed self-absorption, focus on the distressing aspects of the situation,surrender to self-pityExamples I feel that I can’t handle stressful situations on my own. When I am experiencing difficult emotions, I am immediately calling a friend toshare my experience so that he/she can reassure me. I feel that my problems are worse than what most people need to deal with. My current problems are too severe to be dealt with by myself.HelplessnessDescriptionHelplessness is characterized by “giving up” or relinquishing control. Although givingup in the face of uncontrollable circumstances is generally adaptive, helplessnessinvolves a downhearted withdrawal of active attempts to change the situationaccompanied by discouragement and resignation.Lack of FocusActionsKeywordsPassivity, confusion, cognitive interference or exhaustion, self-doubt,discouragement, dejection, pessimismExamples No matter what I do, it will not make any positive difference. I have tried everything, and there is no use in trying something different to dealwith this situation. I am a victim of my past, and I will remain a victim.[8] Positive Psychology ToolkitEscapeDescriptionEscape includes efforts to disengage or stay away from a stressful transaction.Escape is characterized by feelings of fear and a desire to distance oneself fromthe stressor. Although escape can be maladaptive, it can also serve the adaptivefunction of removing oneself from contact with (or the experience of) a dangerousenvironment.Lack of FocusActionsKeywordsAvoidance, flight-response, denialExamples After the painful encounter with my manager, I have done everything to avoidany form of contact with him. Because the thought of that miserable experience may turn up again, I try todistract myself as much as possible by watching television. Thinking positive thoughts helps me get rid of my negative thoughts.SubmissionDescriptionSubmission can be translated as becoming a “slave” of a situation. Rather thanadjusting one’s preferences to the available options, the individual either (a) gives uppreferences or (b) is rigidly pursuing his preferences, although the situation demandsan adjustment of these preferences. The first form of submission can be labeled“under-control,” the second form is “over-control.” Over-control and under-controlcan be considered the opposite of flexible accommodation. Flexibleaccommodation involves a realistic estimation of what can and what cannot bedone in a stressful situation. In contrast, under-control involves unrealistic (negative)beliefs about what can be done in a stressful situation (an unjustified lack ofperceived control). Over-control involves unrealistic beliefs about what can be donein a stressful situation (an unjustified excessive amount of perceived control).Lack of FocusAvailable options and preferencesKeywordsPsychological rigidity, negative thinking, catastrophizing, anxiety amplification, selfblame, fearExamples This must work. I am not willing to take a step back and will try even harder tomake this happen (over-control). I can’t stop thinking of how life treated me this way, leaving me no options at all(under-control). I just can’t stop thinking about how this all could have happened to me (undercontrol).[9] Positive Psychology ToolkitOppositionDescriptionIn opposition, the focus is on attacking or combating the perceived source of thestress. It is characterized by an active forward movement to eliminate the obstacleaccompanied by anger or hostility.Lack of FocusAvailable optionsKeywordsAggression, projection, reactance, confrontation, defiance, revenge, discharge,venting, blaming others, externalizing behaviorsExamples When people disagree with me, I will use strong language to intimidate them, sothey know who’s in charge. I often overtly blame others for the way they make me feel. When other people do things that cause me to experience stress, I will make sureto do the same things to them.Social isolationDescriptionSocial isolation involves actions aimed at withdrawing or staying away from otherpeople, either physically or psychologically. Although social isolation can serve thepurpose of protecting an individual from contact with unsupportive social partners,it also prevents the individual from benefitting from supportive social interactions.Lack of FocusSocial resourcesKeywordsPassivity, withdrawal, shame, desire to hide or disappearExamples After experiencing a stressful event, I try to avoid other people from knowingabout this event or the emotional effects it had on me. In stressful times, I avoid other people because they may judge me for havingproblems. Because other people cannot help me, I tend to stay away from them whenfacing difficulties.[10] Positive Psychology ToolkitUsing the coping wheelsThe two coping wheels can be a useful resource for coaching. In general, the left wheel can be seen as theopposite of the right wheel. For instance, while the coping strategies in the green wheel with the focus on“personal abilities” all involve a form of self-reliance, the coping strategies in the red wheel with this focusall involve a form of delegation, the opposite of self-reliance.This means that when a client is using an unhelpful coping strategy that is listed under one of the fourquadrants of the red wheel, the practitioner may consider the same quadrant of the green wheel to seewhich of the strategies listed under this quadrant may be considered a healthy alternative. For instance, aclient is using rigid perseveration (continuing to exert control despite a lack of result) as a coping strategy.This maladaptive coping strategy falls under the “available options” focus, belonging to the “under-control/over-control” coping family. By looking up the adaptive coping family that is shown at the same locationin the green wheel, in this case, “accommodation,” the practitioner may consider the coping strategieslisted under this family. For instance, for this client, it may be more adaptive to surrender to uncontrollablecircumstances rather than to persist.When doing so, it is important to realize that changing an ineffective coping strategy to the polar oppositeof its kind will most likely be very difficult for clients, making it more of a process throughout the coachingengagement. Rather than a “quick fix,” a considerable amount of time may be required to make the shifteffectively and allow the client to learn and internalize the new coping behaviors.[11]

A way of coping is a broader category of coping that explains specific coping instances. For instance, reading a book on stress management falls under the way of coping named “reading.” Playing the video game “Tetris” is a way of coping that is referred to as “distraction.” In Fig. 1 and Fig.

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