Problem-Solving Therapy (PST)
Problem-Solving Therapy (PST) is a well-established form of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) with a substantial body of research evidence supporting its theory and practice. It was developed in the early 1970s by behaviour therapists seeking to design a general-purpose set of strategies for helping clients to enhance their creative problem-solving abilities. We now know that Problem-Solving Therapy (PST) is particularly effective in helping people who suffer from depression, and it tends to be combined with assertiveness training and other therapeutic approaches.
The goal of Problem-Solving Therapy isn’t merely to help you solve your own problems but to make you a more skilled ans self-confident problem-solver in general. Problem-solving is traditionally divided into five main component skills, which can be taught and practised in therapy sessions,
- Problem Orientation. Your mind-set or attitude toward problems, i.e., seeing problems as a normal part of life, as challenges to be overcome rather than overwhelming threats, and a willingness to approach them in a systematic and timely manner.
- Problem Definition. The ability to define problems and corresponding goals accurately and objectively, without unhelpful assumptions or emotive language, i.e., to stick to the key facts and pinpoint what it is that makes the situation a problem.
- Generating Alternatives. The ability to look at things from different perspectives and creatively brainstorm an exhaustive list of potential solutions, i.e., to identify all of the available options.
- Decision-Making. The ability to prioritise the best solutions and evaluate them from all the relevant perspectives, i.e., in terms of both short and long-term consequences and the effect upon yourself and other people. The ability to identify the best solution or combination and to develop a realistic plan of action.
- Solution Implementation. The ability to test your action plan out in the real world, putting it into practice and evaluating the outcome, in an “experimental” manner. The ability to adapt plans or employ “backup plans” where appropriate and to repeat the problem-solving process where problems remain unresolved.