The 9 steps of problem solving therapy

How to solve our problems effectively if the mind is gripped by infinite stressors, fears and insecurities? There is a type of therapy that can provide you with adequate strategies to solve these vital crossroads. Discover your steps!

The 9 steps of problem solving therapy

Last update: January 14, 2023

Is there something worrying you right now? Most likely, you are not distressed by a single dimension, but several. Because life is complex, our relationships are defined by countless challenges and because crossroads are a constant in our day to day. Now, the good news is that we can all learn appropriate strategies to solve those existential knots.

Having good problem-solving skills is perhaps the cornerstone of psychological well-being. This ability prevents “stones” from accumulating excessively in our personal backpack and anxieties from being the cause of our sleepless nights. The fact that the brain is oriented more towards solutions and not so much towards difficulties is a great benefit.

It was for this purpose that, in the 1970s, what is known as problem solving therapy was developed. D’Zurilla and Goldfried were the ones who developed this therapeutic model whose purpose is to teach the person to manage the impact of life stressors.

The goal is not just to train those skills to solve difficulties. An essential goal is to change the perception that many of us tend to have about problems. Far from seeing them as crossroads that block us, we must interpret them as events that are an inherent part of our existence.

“Facing, always facing, is the way to solve the problem. Face him!”

-Joseph Conrad-

Many times, life becomes so complex that we are unable to clarify what our problems are.

Why is problem solving therapy useful?

We were all taught to read and write, but not to solve problems. We learned how to add, divide, do quadratic equations, analyze subordinate clauses, and even identify the most important rivers of each continent on a map. Much of this knowledge is hardly useful to us, especially in this age of technology and information.

No one offered us guidelines on how to solve everyday challenges and problems. For example, in education, it is often overlooked how to guide a child to manage stress and thus be able to apply more creative thinking in their day to day. This explains why throughout our lives we apply more avoidance behavior than avoidance behavior. coping when tackling a challenge.

Problem solving therapy was developed with the aim of becoming more fit and decisive beings, capable of surviving in stressful environments. It is a model based on the cognitive-behavioral school in which a simplified strategy of the scientific method is applied to address the big and small problems of day to day.

Benefits of this therapeutic strategy

If there is one area in which problem solving therapy is effective, it is in the clinical area of ​​depression. A study from the University of Amsterdam highlights its efficacy and usefulness with these patients. Since it allows us to better navigate conflicts, worries and vital crossroads, the benefit is unquestionable.

Let’s see more benefits of this model:

  • Improves the perception of problems. We develop a more positive and decisive perception.
  • Reduce fears, blockages and negativity in the face of challenges.
  • Increases self-efficacy and self esteem.
  • We reduce the classic tendency towards avoidance, so common when problems arise.
  • Impulsivity is also reducedacting without applying a more reflective look.

At the moment in which we develop a more confident and positive vision of the problems and trust in our abilities, every challenge ceases to be a mountain to become a smoother path that we can travel.

What are the steps of problem solving therapy?

No problem can be solved without first having a route plan. However, it is not enough to have slow instructions, after all, a guide is of no use to us if our pulse trembles, if the mind is not free of fears and insecurities. It is because of that the steps of problem solving therapy must be adapted to the needs of each person.

This is a model that must be adapted to each individual and circumstance. A worked research from the University of Iowa highlights something interesting. This therapy is very useful if it is included as a psychoeducational intervention in older adults. As we get older, we become less adept at making decisions. This resource can be of great help.

Now let’s see the sequence of its steps:

1. Boarding Mentality

The way to approach a problem requires first developing a positive and flexible mindset. The way we approach this personal labyrinth will allow us to find a way out or get even more lost. It is essential to have the perception that any challenge can be resolved through a hopeful, decisive and confident attitude.

2. New strengths to manage stress

The therapist enabled in the problem solving model must Offer the patient adequate strategies to manage stress. To do this, you have to make the person see what their potential, strengths and virtues are. We all have bright experiences and skills that can help us open paths in the face of difficulties.

3. Obstacles that will prevent us from solving a problem

What are the main enemies that will hinder me from tackling the challenge ahead? What are, on average, those barbed wire fences that prevent me from being more decisive?

It will always be useful for us to visualize and even make a list of those dimensions that, at any given moment, can make it difficult to solve a personal crossroads. Having a clear image of those stones that we can find on the road will allow us to be able to avoid them in case they appear.

4. Improve the perception of self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is the confidence we have in our own ability to perform a task. Without this perception, without that internal seed, it will be impossible for us to reach any goal and, of course, to solve any difficulty.

The steps of problem solving therapy require work in each patient the development of this competence defined by Albert Bandura.

5. Recognize and define problems

This may seem striking to us. Not all people can clearly define the problems that dominate and worsen their quality of life. Sometimes we have before us such a tangle of difficulties, fears, anxieties and challenges that it is impossible to break down the cause of each discomfort. Everything is chaos.

Guide the person to identify, delimit and formulate each problem It is a basic and essential step.

6. The attitude towards the defined problem

How does the person deal with their problems? What kind of approach, mindset and strategies do you use? When it comes to orienting ourselves towards a problem, it is essential to get rid of dysfunctional thought patterns, impulses and apply a motivating, hopeful attitude. Far from avoiding this challenge, it must be seen as an opportunity for growth.

7. Formulate different alternatives

Faced with this abyss that lies ahead, the best option is not to think of a strategy to overcome it. The ideal is to generate multiple alternative solutions to the same problem.. Here you have to awaken creativity, turn on the lateral thinking and apply the principle of variety. That is, the more ideas, the better.

8. Evaluate each option and its possible consequences

One of the most crucial steps in problem solving therapy is to analyze each proposal that we have generated. If before we have used creativity, now we must apply logic and analysis to stay with the most suitable.

Is this proposal logical, is it practical? What consequences can follow from this possible solution if I carry it out?

9. Implementation and assessment

It’s time to be brave and bold… The chosen proposal must be implemented and its effects analyzed. At this moment two things can happen, that we can solve our problem or that we return to the starting square, that is, that we do not solve anything.

In case of not obtaining the expected result, we should not feel blocked or devastated. Managing failure and frustration is one more step in the problem solving process itself. After all, a failure is nothing more than a way of clarifying that a specific option does not work. We have a million more to check.

In addition, in case our crossroads has been resolved, it is important to feel proud of ourselves. It is a way of reinforcing our image and self-efficacy.

“We cannot solve problems by thinking in the same way as when we created them.”

-Albert Einstein-

Knowing how to solve problems is a life tool that promotes success and well-being.

A way to educate the mind

Although the steps of problem-solving therapy make for an interesting and practical strategy, it should be noted that it is not useful for all situations. As we can well imagine, there are experiences and situations that have no solution and that only require adequate acceptance.

Nevertheless, having adequate skills in this matter can allow us to better deal with uncertainties and the small or large challenges of life. It is also a way of educating the mind, of training our attitude to be more resilient and decisive and less avoidant. Something like that is a big step forward.

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