What is New Beginnings?
New Beginnings is a community-based, life skills program offered free of charge to U.S. veterans, National Guard, and reservists in the greater Philadelphia area. The overall goal of this program is to help veterans of all sexes and ages improve their lives. This program trains veterans in various skill sets geared to foster their ability to solve a wide variety of problems in living. Similar to military training, we emphasize the importance of learning skills that can be applied to a variety of situations to help "achieve one's mission." The type of training provided is based on a psychosocial intervention called Problem-Solving Training (PST) originally developed by Dr. Arthur Nezu and Dr. Christine Maguth Nezu, Co-Directors of New Beginnings. PST has been designed to help individuals adjust to life changes, cope more successfully with life stress, and achieve important life goals. It is important to note that PST has been found to be effective across a variety of ages, life problems, and ethnic groups. The sizable scientific basis for PST has been accumulated through decades of research both in the U.S. and internationally. A program, called Moving Forward, based on PST, is currently offered in multiple VA facilities across the country and has been shown to be effective in reducing depression and general distress, while increasing resilience, problem-solving ability, and social functioning. Drs. Nezu were instrumental in helping to develop Moving Forward for the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense (click here for a more detailed description of Moving Forward).
There is also a free web course, also termed Moving Forward, that is based on the face-to-face program described above. We recommend this program to veterans as part of their New Beginnings experience (click here for a link to this free web course).
For those who have access to an iPhone, there is an app called Moving Forward that can also be used independently or as an adjunct to one's New Beginnings participation (click here for a PDF view of the app).
New Beginnings is dedicated to reducing the stigma of receiving mental health treatment among veterans and making life-skills training programs more easily available. This program offers services to all veterans, National Guard, and reservists, regardless of discharge status, service-connection status, or affiliation with the VA. We are committed to providing free, easily accessible training and counseling services to veterans, National Guard, and reservists in a non-hospital setting.
What is Problem-Solving Training (PST)?
PST has been recognized as an evidenced-based treatment by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Institute of Mental Health. Research has shown that PST is effective for veterans and active service members for a variety of problems, including suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, post trauma difficulties, and certain personality disorders (click here for a link to view a recent study that linked ineffective problem solving to suicidal ideation). PST has also been proven to be effective for improving sleep problems in veterans with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and those who are experiencing distress related to a medical condition. PST has also been found to be effective for individuals experiencing existential life crises.
PST is designed to teach individuals how to manage the negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that can accompany stressful events by teaching skills geared to overcome barriers to successful coping. The goals of PST are to identify stressors that trigger negative emotions, teach individuals to better understand and manage such emotions, implement techniques that help them feel more confident in solving problems, teach acceptance that not all problems are solvable, and help them become more planful and effective in solving personal and interpersonal problems. Goals are individualized to what a veteran wants to accomplish during this program.
How Can I Participate in New Beginnings?
New Beginnings offers free individual and group counseling services. To participate in New Beginnings, you need to:
- Schedule a phone interview with the Coordinator of the program, Ms. Jenna Damico (215-571-4342)
- Complete certain initial paperwork, which includes basic contact information and questionnaires regarding your current problems and coping methods
- Have an initial meeting with your New Beginnings provider
- Complete the same series of questionnaires as part of a program evaluation to determine the effectiveness of our training and counseling services.
If by the end of the 5-session program you wish to continue, you can discuss with your provider the possibility of receiving additional sessions.
Please note that your anonymity is very important to us. As part of your participation in this program, all responses to questionnaires, identifying information, and points of discussion in sessions are kept completely confidential and only you and our treatment team will have access to such information.