Are you someone who feels a surge of optimistic energy at the beginning of a school year? There is something about fall that makes students motivated and ready to start fresh. The fall semester is a good example of how you can use Solution-Focused therapy ideas to get your best grades yet.
One fun thing about psychology is that you can take one problem and use different theoretical approaches to try to solve it. For example, a cognitive therapist would use different techniques than a psychodynamic therapist to solve and understand a communication problem in a romantic relationship.
One concept that I like to use from Solution-Focused therapy is to figure out what is working and why it is working. This might sound too simple of an idea to solve complicated problems, but it has many applications and layers to it. For example, a problem is never occurring all the time or across every area of your life. You are adept at one subject and not another, you look your best in one color and not another, and you click with one type of friend and not another.
Here are some ideas to try to make your goals happen:
- What is your “best” subject? Think back to the classes you performed the best in high school. What was it about English, or Biology, that made you do so well? In other words, why is it easier for you to write a paper instead of do problem sets (or vice versa). When you understand some of your strengths in a certain subject, you can move on to the next step.
- Chances are that when it comes to your best subject, you have a fair amount of confidence when tackling assignments in it. See if you can identify the beliefs you have about yourself when it comes to these tasks. For example, do you know that you can sit down at 10pm to write a paper that is due at 8am? This involves confidence that someone who does not enjoy writing papers would not have. What is it about the way you work that allows you to tackle writing a paper but makes you freeze at the idea of giving a presentation (or something else?)
- Get really concrete with your goals and habits. When I ask students how they plan to improve their grades in a certain subject, the most common answer is “study harder.” This vague answer hardly ever produces results we want. What do you really mean? More hours? Different method? Different location? See if you can identify WHERE you do your best work, WITH whom (including alone), WHEN you can focus best, etc. Make this an image in your mind: studying in a certain corner of the library, with a particular friend, after dinner, etc.
- Think about the last time you did your best work: aced a test or wrote your best paper or presentation. What did you do? How did you make it happen? See if you can repeat some of the choices you made and apply them to a class where you are not succeeding as naturally.
- Consider observing someone who excels in this particular subject or assignment you are trying to improve. Sometimes it is easier to describe another person’s successful methods. I’ll sometimes ask a client the question, “Why is this person able to perform this task? What do they do? What do they believe about themselves that you currently don’t believe about yourself?”
I hope this school year is your best yet.
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