Assessing the Effects of Cognitive Restructuring and Solution Focused Therapy on Self-Concept Among Students


Assessing the Effects of Cognitive Restructuring and Solution Focused Therapy on Self-Concept Among Students



1.1 Background to the Study


Solution-focused therapy, also called solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT), is a type of therapy that places far more importance on discussing solutions than problems  Of course, you must discuss the problem to find a solution, but beyond understanding what the problem is and deciding how to address it, solution-focused therapy will not dwell on every detail of the problem you are experiencing.

Solution-focused brief therapy doesn’t require a deep dive into your childhood and the ways in which your past has influenced your present. Instead, it will root your sessions firmly in the present while working toward a future in which your current problems have less of an impact on your life

Self-concept is the image that people have of themselves. This image is formed in a number of ways, but is particularly influenced by interactions with important people and events in their life. Many scholars described self-concept in different ways such as the perception or image of one‘s abilities and uniqueness. At first, one’s self-concept is very general and changeable… as one grows older, these self-perceptions become much more organized, detailed, and specific (Pastorino& Doyle-Portillo, 2013). According to Abdulkadir (2011), self-concept may be high or low. It refers to a man‘s nature or personality, image or the qualities that makes up the individual.Ajoku (1998) pointed out different terminologies used to represent self-concept such as self-esteem, self-image, self-identity, self-perception, self-acceptance and self-worth. In this study, self-concept comprises among others the above terminologies.


Research conducted by Marsh, (2004) has established that there is close relationship between self-concept and academic achievements of students. Students with high self-concept participate enthusiastically in the learning process. Such students are more confident, active and motivated towards learning and perform better in examination as compared to those students with low self-concept because self-concept is the significant tool that differentiates between academic achiever and underachiever students.The lower the self-concept, the lower the aspiration for academic success; because the lower the aspiration, the lower the achievement and vice versa. This situation occurs because the students‘ actions are influenced by their self-concept as it is the basis for all motivated behaviour(Ahmad, Zeb, Ullah, & Ali, 2013). Gender has also beenhighlighted to influence academic self-concept and academic achievement in various studies done on gender, self-worth, and academic achievement among students.A significant difference in self-concept was noted between males and females and in their




academic achievements (Lanza, Osgood, Eccles, & Wigfield, 2002; Sar-Abadani-Tafreshi, 2006).


Achievement can be described as something which someone has succeeded in doing. In education, the term academic achievement refers to the performance or accomplishment of students in academic or learning task (Ngwoke, Numonde, & Ngwoke, 2013). It is used to indicate the degree of success attained in some general or specific area of academic task (Enyi, 2009). Academic underachievementcan be defined as a discrepancy between the child‘s school performance and some index of his/her actual ability. That is, one whose achievement score is lower than his/her ability score. Ability may be measured by test scores or even by observing the child at home or at school. Underachievement is most commonly defined as a discrepancy between potential (or ability) and performance (or achievement). A student who appears capable of succeeding in school but is nonetheless struggling is referred to as an underachiever (Coil, 2010; McCoach&Siegle, 2001).Based on the definitions, underachievers can be described as students who, in a significant way, are not working up to their potential. These students often see ‗YOU CAN DO BETTER‘ written boldly in red on their homework, test papers, and report cards and receive this message in many other ways, both verbally and nonverbally.For a variety of reasons they continue to do much less than they are capable of doing.


The low academic achievement of students in external examinations in Nigeria has become a source of great concern to all the stakeholders in the education sector. This calls for concerted efforts for remediation (Ngwoke, Numonde, & Ngwoke, 2013). This problem if not urgently addressed will lead to academic failure in final examinations such as the examinations conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examinations Council (NECO). To buttress this, Ali (2009) claimed thatmost secondary school leavers failed the May-June examinations conducted by WAEC and NECO.Of the candidates who sat for the year 2009 May/June Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations, 84% failed. Also, of the




candidates who registered for 2013 WASSCE (May/June edition), 20.04% obtained credits in English language, Mathematics and at least three other subjects (Ogundare, 2013). Though not all these failures wereunderachievers, majority of them may be described as academic underachievers since their failure may not be attributed to any learning disability or difficulty.


For a better clarification of who the underachieversare; here are their major characteristicsas mentioned by Williams (2008) irresponsibility, laziness, poor study skills,lower attainment value on learning, and disinterest in school, as well as lower academic self-concept which is the focus of this work. Based on the findings of some researchers, academic underachievement has no gender barrierbecause it affects both sexes but in different forms and rates. Weiss (cited in Chukwu-etu, 2009) posited that gender differences affect underachievement, with approximately 25% of females who are above-average in academic performance may be considered underachievers as compared to 50% of above-average males.


Cognitive restructuring was originally developed by Albert Ellis and Arron Beck. It is a psychotherapeutic process of learning to identify and dispute irrational or maladaptive thoughts. That is, a coping technique; substituting negative, self-defeating thoughts with positive, affirming thoughts that change perceptions of stressors from threatening to nonthreatening(Dombeck, 2014). In this technique, four major steps are to be followed. They are: identification of problematic cognitions known as “automatic thoughts” which are dysfunctional or negative views of the self, world, or future; identification of the cognitive distortions in the automatic thoughts; rational disputation of automatic thoughts with the Socratic dialogue and development of a rational rebuttal to the automatic thoughts (Hope, Burns, Hyes, Herbert &Warner, 2010).


The researcher‘s choice of cognitive restructuring is based on its efficacy in managing both cognitive and behaviour problems as noted by Ekennia, Otta, andOgbuokiri (2013).The purpose of cognitive restructuring is to widen students‘ conscious perspective and thus allow




room for a change in low self-concept perception to a positive one because cognitive restructuring has been used to help individuals experiencing a variety of psychological or psychiatric conditions, including low self-concept, depression, substance abuse disorders, anxiety disorders, bulimia, social phobia, borderline personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD), and gambling, just to name a few (Chronis, Gamble, Roberts, & Pelham, 2006).Cognitive restructuring helps students consider any maladaptive patterns in their thinking-feeling-behaviour cycles.


Solution Focused Brief Technique (SFBT), often referred to as simply ‘solution focused therapy’ or ‘brief therapy’, is a type of talking therapy based upon social constructionist philosophy. It focuses on what clients want to achieve through therapy rather than on historical background of problem(s) that made them seek help (Guterman, 2006).Solution Focused Brief Technique(SFBT) is used to treat the entire range of clinical and psychological disorders, and in educational and business settings. Meta-analysis and systematic reviews of experimental and quasi-experimental studies indicate that SFBT is a promising intervention for the youth with externalizing behaviour problems and those with school psychology and academic problems, withsignificant effect measures. The researcher prefers this technique because it has been used by many researchers to find solution to problems like Parent-child conflict, child behaviour problems, diabetes, domestic violence, suicide, self-harm, alcoholism, substance abuse, gambling, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, delinquency, antisocial behaviour, life coaching, poor self-concept, school counselling related issues (Pichot& Dolan, 2003; Stephen, 2014). It is the belief of the researcher that application of SFBT will beuseful in enhancing the self-concept of secondary school underachievers.


From theexplanations so far, it is clear that low academic self-concept may be one cogent aspect of affective domain that contributes immensely to the academic failure of secondary school students irrespective of gender, or age (Wilson, 2009). In this regard, cognitive




restructuring and solution focused brief counselling techniques would be applied and tested if they would be of useful measures to strengthen the self-concept and self-confidence of these secondary school academic underachievers due to their records of efficacy in managing same or related psychological and behavioural problems in the past.