Problem Solving Therapy: PST in 3 Steps

Problem solving therapy is a psychotherapy that focuses on the cognitive and emotional processes of an individual with the aim to solve their problems. The aim of this blog post is to explore how it works, who can benefit from it and what are its benefits. Problem solving therapy is a cognitive behavioral therapeutic approach that focuses on the present and future rather than the past.

Problem Solving Therapy Steps

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  1. What is Problem Solving Therapy?

    Problem solving therapy is a cognitive-behavioral technique intended to enhance an individual’s ability to deal with traumatic life events. The premise of problem solving therapy is that people cannot change what has happened, but they can learn to accept it and take control of their life.

  2. Who developed Problem Solving Therapy?

    Problem-solving therapy was developed by Jeffrey Young in 1987 as an integration of cognitive psychotherapy, rational emotive behavior therapy, and developmental theories such as Piaget’s theory of moral development.

Regardless of the time, the existence of a problem is often perceived as troubling. The problem is, in the most general sense, “the differences and obstacles between the current situation and the desired situation” (Nezu, Nezu and D ‘Zurilla, 2007).

According to D ‘Zurilla, Nezu, and Maydeu-Olivares’, who suggested the concept of social problem solving based on the fact that a human being is a social entity, the problem is “when a person needs to react to adapt in case of any life situation or task that needs to be accomplished. It occurs when there is no obvious or obviously effective response depending on the presence of obstacles. In fact, the problem arises when a person makes a “mistake in showing the effective and appropriate response” or “a difference between what he is currently in and what he wants to be”.

problem solving
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The existence of a problematic situation inevitably requires an effort for a solution. Therefore, the problem situation requires coping, dealing with obstacles, and more effort and especially change. In other words, it is necessary to act and change in order to reach the desired situation from the current situation. Changing can also be perceived as a difficult and disturbing process. At this point, people’s problem-solving styles may differ, whether effective or ineffective.

problem solving therapy: pst in 3 steps 1
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D’Zurilla and Nezu (1990) define social problem solving as the cognitive, affective, and behavioral process that the individual attempts and produces to find an effective way to cope with problem situations in daily life.

The main purpose of problem solving therapy is to teach people how to approach the problems they face and the strategies they will follow to solve the problems. From this point of view, problem solving therapy aims to both treat mental problems caused by the failure of the problems and prevent the occurrence of psychological problems.

problem solving therapy: pst in 3 steps 2
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Problem-solving therapy recognizes that any problems we experience are part of our lives. We can be sick at any moment, lose someone we love, be abandoned by our beloved, be fired from our job, be humiliated by others, suffer injustice. So the dream of a smooth world is unrealistic. The important thing is how we deal with them rather than the existence of problems.

The main starting point of problem solving therapy is that the problem solving skills of people who have mental problems are not sufficient and effective. Problem solving therapy, which is a cognitive-behavioral therapy model, focuses on the thoughts and behaviors of people. This method acknowledges that functional changes in thoughts and behaviors will be effective in the treatment of psychological problems.

problem solving therapy: pst in 3 steps 3
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Problem solving therapy is a cognitive-behavioral method. The importance of this is that the effectiveness of therapy has been proven by experimental studies. Scientific studies have shown that the inadequacies of people in their problem solving abilities are effective both in forming and maintaining psychopathologies. Therefore, problem solving therapy can be used both to overcome psychological problems caused by the problems experienced and to effectively deal with the problems.

Why Do We Need Problem Solving Therapy?

Some people may find it difficult to solve problems on their own, which can lead to frustration, anxiety, and even depression. Problem-solving therapy is a type of talk therapy that can help people learn how to solve problems in a healthy way.

The therapist will work with the patient to identify and understand the problem, brainstorm possible solutions, select the best solution, and put the plan into action. This type of therapy can be helpful for people who have difficulty coping with stress or who are dealing with a major life change.

Working with a therapist is beneficial because they will have access to tools that allow them to find the root causes of the problem. 

There is also often a misconnection in early childhood that leads people to seek this type of therapy which, again means they’re less likely to try and self-solve their own issues.

Effectiveness of Problem Solving Theory

Problem-solving therapy was created to assist customers to solve problems and improve their lives. It was later modified to focus on treating clinical depression specifically. Today, the majority of the research on problem-solving therapy is concerned with how effectively it can help people get over sadness.

Problem-solving therapy has been shown to help depression in: 

  • Elder people
  • Caregivers
  • People coping with severe illnesses like cancer

Problem-solving therapy has also been found to be beneficial as a brief therapy for depression, with benefits seen after just six to eight sessions with a therapist or another healthcare professional. This may make it an appealing alternative for those who are unable to commit to a longer depression treatment.

Last Updated on December 10, 2022 by Lucas Berg

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