Training in Interpersonal Problem Solving (TIPS)

Article excerpt

This article describes a recently developed program, Training in Interpersonal Problem Solving (TIPS), for drug addicts and alcoholics. The cognitive-behavioral foundation of the program is reviewed, as is the literature on prior applications of this approach. Initial findings regarding the effectiveness of this new program are also presented.

There is evidence that substance abusers may be deficient in interpersonal problem-solving skills (Platt, 1986b; Platt, Scura, & Hannon, 1973). The purpose of this article is to describe a recently developed cognitive problem-solving program which was designed to provide interpersonal problem-solving skills for substance-abuse patients. The program, known as Training in Interpersonal Problem Solving (TIPS), is based on an extensive body of empirical research on interpersonal cognitive problem- solving (ICPS) behavior and employs many classic behavioral techniques. Programs similar to TIPS have been successfully applied to a variety of populations, which we will discuss shortly. Additional support for the successful use of TIPS with addicted populations is the application of ICPS with incarcerated heroin addicts (Platt, Labate, & Wicks, 1977; Platt, Perry, & Metzger, 1980) and with alcoholics (Intagliata, 1978).

HISTORICAL ANTECEDENTS

The recent union of cognitive and behavioral treatment approaches has spawned many practical and theoretical offspring (see Platt & Prout, 1988; Platt, Prout, & Metzger, 1986). In addition to the interpersonal cognitive problem-solving literature, these offspring include applications of, and research on, social learning (e.g., Bandura, 1969, 1977; Nietzel, 1979; Sarason, 1978), locus of control (e.g., Lefcourt, 1976; Rotter, 1966), attribution (e.g., Davison, Tsujimoto, & Glares, 1973; Goldfried & Davison, 1976), and social perspective taking (e.g., Chandler, Greenspan, & Barenboim, 1974).

Kendall and Hollon (1979) suggest that there are at least four "streams of influence" (p. 3) that have led to this fruitful union. First, they point to the increasing acceptance of the notion that the principles of learning that govern observable behavior are also applicable to cognitions or covert behavior. Second, they note that there is a growing concurrence that covert processes play a significant role in determining pathological behavior. Third, they cite the evolution of more sophisticated theoretical models that permit experimental verification and hence greater ease in transposing these models from cognitive to behavioral terms. Finally, these authors suggest that this union has been fostered by the compatibility of cognitive and behavioral approaches and the resultant effectiveness of pairing them.

As with many other developments in cognitive-behavior therapy, interpersonal problem-solving theory grew out of this same convergence of factors. Unlike other cognitive behavioral therapies, however, problem-solving behavior in general has long been investigated, although these studies were noninterpersonal in nature. Dating back at least as far as Thorndike's (1898) puzzle boxes, several different perspectives on problem solving evolved, including the traditional learning theory focus on trial-and-error learning, the gestalt "insight" approach, and computerlike or mathematical modeling (Davis, 1966). In addition, most psychotherapeutic schools have-at least obliquely-viewed their treatment processes as involving some aspects of problem solving. As early as 1953, Jahoda defined the ability to engage in problem solving as a positive indicator of mental health. Yet, with few exceptions, problem- solving research and theory has dealt almost exclusively with skills in impersonal problem resolution. Not until the early 1970s did interpersonal problem solving become a clearly defined area of interest in its own right.

At that time, two lines of parallel theory and research appeared. One line was proposed by D'Zurilla and Goldfried (1971) and the other by Platt and various co-researchers (e. …