If an individual expresses that they:

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feel overwhelmed by a number of problems in their life

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feel helpless, hopeless or disheartened that they cannot solve a problem(s)

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feel like they lack control over a problem

It is important to note that problem-solving may not be helpful or appropriate for individuals who are in an acute state of distress or dysregulation, as these individuals will likely not be able to effectively engage with the activity. In these circumstances, stress-reduction or relaxation techniques such as slow breathing and grounding exercises may be more beneficial.

Quick tips

Problem-solving is one of the most common and pragmatic skills used in CBT. It is an intervention that has been described as well suited to general practice settings and can be undertaken in 15 – 30 minute consultations. Problem-solving consists of five steps that practitioners and patients work through in a collaborative and systematic manner, including:

  • define the problem
  • brainstorm all possible solutions
  • evaluate and choose the best solution
  • set goals and action plans
  • review progress

It is important to remember that your role as a practitioner is to help individuals to explore the pros and cons of all possible solutions, before creating their own action plan to work towards. Practitioners are encouraged to cultivate a sense of curiosity and collaboration when working through these steps, and be guided by the individual’s responses and ideas – as it is not the practitioner’s role to suggest or impose their ideas for possible solutions.

Do you know how to

Assess whether an individual may benefit from problem-solving strategies?

Provide psychoeducation on problems that arise after disaster/trauma, and how problem-solving strategies may help?

Instruct individuals how to use the problem-solving worksheet attached at the bottom of this page?

Collaboratively implement problem-solving with use of the problem-solving worksheet attached at the bottom of this page?

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