Problem Solving vs. Coping Skills

Edit: 8/16/13. Having done more reading on coping skills, I realize I need to update this and deal with the subject more fairly and adequately. Though I do take issue with some of what is pushed as “coping skills” I also now realize that we all use coping skills. However, some are more effective than others, and I do believe some are completely diversionary and so they do end up acting like another form of “dissociation”. That is my major issue with such coping skills. I want my girls to learn to deal with the underlying issues, if possible, and if not do things that build stability in other ways…I’ll stop for now until I have time to revisit this subject better…


For those of you who have followed the healing journey that my girls and I have been on from the beginning, you may know that we are doing things about the exact opposite of what is often espoused for the healing of dissociative identity disorder or what’s a.k.a multiple personality disorder. One of the major tenets in our methodology is that Karen and I have adopted an “inside out approach” to healing. In other words we focus on healing the insiders not the host (maybe a 70-30 split is a more accurate picture!).

Karen told me that she has learned “coping skills.” But to me coping skills often seem to be a temporary fix. Most suggestions in the lists I have read are diversionary in nature only. They do nothing to solve the underlying issues causing the stress, and so in my ignorant opinion they are nearly the same as dissociation. “I’m stressed, so I’ll focus on something else.”

But I try to teach the little girls problem solving skills. I try to teach them how healthy people solve the underlying issues causing the stress. Whether it’s trauma from the past or learning new things today, I’m trying to teach them an ethic that doesn’t shy from stress and pain, but uses these things to spur them to overcome the source of it.

So, I want to start a small series on a few of the key life skills that I have been teaching the 5 little girls in my wife’s network since the day they joined my life. This won’t be an exhaustive list. But these are critical skills and perspectives that I’ve noticed the girls are lacking, and as I have worked with each girl repeatedly on these issues, panic attacks and triggers have become nearly a thing of the past.

Lastly, I don’t want this to appear like an attack against ladies learning coping skills. As I’ve said, Karen learned them too. In the beginning of the healing journey, I think coping skills are necessary because everything was in disarray when the little girls first entered our lives. BUT, if a person doesn’t move beyond the need for coping skills, then in my opinion, it’s a sure sign that the healing still needs to go deeper.


Sam, I Am


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ann
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 20:09:09

    So true I am on my own and having to do this for myself. Parenting the young ones inside. You are inspiring. Thank-you


  2. jeffssong
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 15:29:19

    I understand what you are saying: if ‘they’ could handle their own ‘problems’, triggers, and emotional outbursts, then the host can be less ‘distracted’ (or distressed to use a better word) by their ‘problems’. A fine cut of the hair there – but yes, an important yet subtle distinction in terms of ‘who’ is doing ‘what’ and its effect on ‘everybody else’.

    I sense that ‘we’ (The two major ‘grownup selves, M3 and Jeffery Thompson) are and have been in the process of trying to teach ‘life skills’ to our littles – however, we had not had any idea that this was exactly what we’ve been doing (and it’s been slow). However, with a more narrowed focus (given by your elucidation of a goal), we may be more better able to accomplish, or at least work on this thing.

    Good insight, Sam, as always. Thanks much.
    Jeff & Crew


    • Sam Ruck
      Jan 28, 2012 @ 08:52:40

      Hey Jeff,

      thanks for visiting. Good luck, as always, to all you guys. Is your wife still trying to get more involved in your healing process?



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