The skill of critical thinking
The skill of critical thinking
Developing the skill of critical thinking may be very beneficial for people experiencing mental health problems, or mental illness (Psychology Today, 2010). By definition, critical thinking is “the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analysing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” (Academy Publication, 2011).
In other words, critical thinking is quite a complex process of collecting information, sorting it, analysing it, and then drawing logical conclusions based on what one has learnt during research. We use critical thinking, to some extent, in many situations. For example, when we choose the best gym to sign up for, or which car to buy, or deciding what work project to focus on next. We rely on this important skill anytime that there is an important decision to be made and which involves a lot of different factors or large amounts of information.
Humans are not born with the skill of critical thinking. It is a skill that has to be learnt; to be developed. The skill of critical thinking tends to be introduced only in the later years of higher education. If you think back to your childhood and early school days, did things seem simpler? This period tends to lend itself to black and white, and where one is usually able to find the “right” answer to any question or problem. The real world is more complicated than that. Frequently we face obstacles with more than one equally correct answer or solution. Because of that, it is largely beneficial that we develop the skill of critical thinking that enable us to make right and valued choices.
The skill of critical thinking is also important when it comes to mental health and medications. Through informed decision-making, we are able to gather information, analyse it, sort out what is preferable to us and to what meets our personal needs, and make decisions based on this. We might receive a prescription for low moods , or perhaps for pain management. We might be casually talking to a colleague about alternative treatments such as acupuncture or yoga. Whatever the case, we can either accept others’ judgments or advice with little decision-making involved, or weigh up professionals’ and others’ opinions and advice and make our own decision after thoroughly appraising the options (Talboy, 2011, pp. 6-7). This is not necessarily suggesting that we disregard professionals’ opinions; far from it. As the expert of your own life, you know the sorts of things that appeal to you, albeit perhaps after developing the skill of critical thinking to some extent. On a simpler level, you know whether yoga may or may not appeal to you without applying a complex set of analytical skills or reasoning. Or perhaps, you may not be aware too much about something like aromatherapy, acupuncture, reflexology, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), but you can gather information, sort it out and analyse it, and make your own conclusions, as in informed decision-making. We are have different needs and preferences. The skill of critical thinking will sharpen your ability to apply what is best for you in your life.
A great way to sharpen your critical thinking skills is to practice. Get yourself in the habit of paying attention to your thought processes. Analyse and review information, and make yourself think through a problem and identify possible solutions logically. Adopting a solution-focused mindset may also prove beneficial.
Academy Publication, (2011). The application of critical thinking in teaching English reading. Retrieved January 18, 2019, from http://www.academypublication.com/issues/past/tpls/vol01/02/03.pdf
Psychology Today, (2010). Depression: Is critical thinking part of the cure? Retrieved January 18, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/ethics-everyone/201008/depression-is-critical-thinking-part-the-cure
Talboy, A. N., (2011). Role of critical thinking skills in mental health treatment selection. Retrieved January 18, 2019, from https://uwf.edu/media/university-of-west-florida/graduate/thesisdissertation-/modelapathesis.pdf