The ‘RASCAL’ Approach to Problem-Solving: Self-Help Tools for Recovery from Depression, Anxiety and Anorexia

The 'RASCAL' Approach to Problem-Solving

Mental health conditions such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder and anorexia nervosa all require much help support from a variety of sources in order for those affected to achieve and maintain a healthy recovery.

As the amount of professional treatment one is able to receive is often down to factors such as finance, insurance coverage and location the option of using self-help guides and workbooks in addition to professional support is one very much worth considering.

One example of a self-help tool used to promote good mental health is that of being able to learn how to problem-solve in a more structured, comprehensive way using the ‘RASCAL’ approach:

  • Reviewing the situation
  • Analysing the problem
  • Solutions for problem-solving
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Acting on the analysis information
  • Learning from the problem-solving process

Reviewing The Situation

The first letter of ‘RASCAL’ problem-solving stands for ‘review’ and basically involves using a blank piece of paper and getting as specific and clear as possible about the nature of the problems one is facing. For example Jane might initially write the problem as, ‘I have difficulties with managing my finances’ and then make it more specific such as, ‘The phone is going to get cut off and my credit card payment is overdue.’

Through making the problem more specific it becomes much more clear what needs to be tackled and this helps focus one’s mind on the true nature of the issue.

Analysing The Problem

This next step is all about breaking the list of problems down into categories through placing each one into one of two specific hierarchies. One hierarchy focuses on how easily or quickly to how difficult or lengthy the problems may be to solve while the other focuses on how significant such problems may be ranging from least to most significant.

As feeling overwhelmed will almost certainly hamper one’s efforts to change, reduce motivation and result in procrastination this step is key to keeping things in perspective and getting to the most important issues that require changing.

Solutions for Problem-Solving

This step simply requires sitting down with a blank piece of paper and having a brainstorm as to possible solutions to each of the problems previously identified. The more ideas written down the better as this will increase the chances of finding the best option.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis is a very straight-forward yet extremely effective tool and involves weighing up the various pros and cons associated with carrying out solutions previously identified for each problem.

This skills will help provide essential motivation to continue working towards tackling problem areas.

Acting on the Analysis Information

As the saying goes action is often the best remedy for despair and this step involves taking action by putting the key solutions associated with each problem into practice. This step is vital (often the most difficult) as thinking about things without acting is a pointless waste of energy.

Fear of failure or anxiety about things not going as one would have wanted may be quashed by recognising and accepting that whatever the outcome it will be a valuable learning experience and if viewed this way there is no reason why not to take action.

Learning From The Problem-Solving Process

Learning from the whole process and each step involved in identifying specific problems and key solutions is an important part of the whole approach. Reviewing the list of problems and recognising both the rewards and challenges provides valuable feedback and as with most skills the more one practices the problem-solving method the easier and more natural it will become.