Fresh Views

Flipping the Paradigm: Applying a Solution-Focused Approach to Problem Solving

I will breathe. I will think of solutions. I will not let my worry control me. I will not let my stress level break me. I will simply breathe. And it will be okay. Because I don’t quit. – Shayne McClendon

Tomorrow, November 14 is #WorldDiabetesDay! Deb and Tami have had some impactful moments in recent years during diabetes month and on #WDD. Deb has been involved in hosting events at the California state Capitol with speakers, music and lighting of the Capitol in blue. Deb’s also spend #WDD 2017 at the headquarters of  Novo Nordisk in Denmark. Tami has done TV spots, radio shows, Facebook Live and videos, provided community programs, participated in screening events and published articles – all to raise awareness and encourage people to know their risk for type 2 diabetes. 

The theme of #WorldDiabetesDay this year is the impact that diabetes has on the family. One of the goals is to promote the role of the family in the prevention, management, care and education of diabetes. In a solution-focused approach, the family is important, and we call them VIPs – .and this definition is broad – it includes any one who is a “very important person” in your life. Someone who can provide support when needed, who will notice changes being made, and  who can respect personal decisions and choices. What’s really important is that these VIPs are not the “diabetes police”, or people who make managing diabetes harder. As you think about problem-solving, think about including VIPs in both the discussion and the plan to help foster success and respect.

Taking a solution-focused approach to diabetes self care

This is week 6 of our 7-week series on applying a solution-focused approach to the AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors for managing diabetes. This series is focusing on “flipping” the conversation from a “problem focused” (traditional medical) approach to a solution-focused conversation. Last week we shared about taking a solution-focused approach to Taking Medications here.  And the weeks prior we focused on Monitoring blood glucose here,  Healthy Eating  here, Being Active here, and Healthy Coping here. This week, we are talking about Problem Solving.

AADE7 Self-Care Behavior #6: Problem Solving

With diabetes, “problem” solving is part of the daily routine…figuring out when, what, and how to eat for meals and snacks. What kind, how much, and when to fit in physical activity. When to check blood glucose, how to time any medications, and the list goes on.

And then life throws curve balls, and no matter how well you plan, unexpected things happen that can send blood glucose out of range. And that’s when more problem-solving skills are called into action to determine how to handle the scenario and what to do to prevent it from happening again. 

Also, diabetes needs may change over time, requiring adjustments because previous solutions no longer work.

In taking a solution-focused approach, we typically don’t focus on solving problems….as you know. We focus on solutions…looking for what is already working and trying to do more of that.  So this self-care behavior is not as intuitive to translate. Here are 4 strategies to help diabetes care and education specialists and people with diabetes flip the problem-solving paradigm.

  1. Practice self-compassion. Diabetes is different every day, even when people make similar choices. We learned from our Twitter research that people living with diabetes would like to practice more self-compassion. They want to be kinder and not blame themselves. 
  2. What has gone well today? When you are faced with challenges, think about what DID work for you during this challenging time. Instead of doing a deep dive into all of the issues that might have impacted you, spend some time focusing on your successes. Then tomorrow, try to do more of what worked.  
  3. Keep a journal of solutions. When things are going well, keep track of these small wins so the next time you are faced with a challenge, you have some “go to” solutions ready to try.
  4. Share with your VIPs. Ask your VIPs about their ideas.  Do they have some ideas about what works well for you and the times they see your successes.

When working with clients, instead of traditional problem-solving exercise, try to focus on existing solutions to create change.  Begin by exploring these 3 questions to flip the conversation.

  1. Tell me about a time when you felt the happiest about your diabetes management?
  2. What was it about that day or time that made it better?
  3. Can you think of times when the challenge you are facing now was not present in your life? What were you doing then?

We challenge you each week to try some flips into your conversations and let us know what impact they have. Let’s join together throughout the month of November to raise awareness of all issues that can improve living with diabetes.

Join us next week for our final installment as we discuss a solution focused-approach to the self-care behavior around reducing risks.

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