Problem-solving therapy: function and characteristics

Problems often turn out to be a source of stress that reduces our personal well-being. To solve it, he was born in 1971 Problem solving therapy, The Most Accepted Model of Problem Solving in Psychotherapy, formulated by D’Zurilla and Goldfried.

This is a type of therapy aimed at that the patient learns to identify his problem and to create effective strategies to solve it, By learning a number of skills, while the therapist advises you on their implementation. Let’s see what phases therapy offers and what each consists of.

    Problem-solving therapy: features

    D’Zurilla and Goldfried’s therapy was born from the influences of previous models such as the social competence model, the cognitive-behavioral approach, the transactional stress model and the interest in creativity.

    According to the authors, the term “problem solving” implies cognitive or overt processes that offer a variety of effective alternative responses to deal with a problematic situation. These processes increase the probability of selecting the most efficient among them.

    like that, it is a cognitive-affective-behavioral process from which the person attempts to identify or discover a coping solution or an effective response to a particular problem. This concept was addressed by D’Zurilla and Goldfried in 1986/1993 and also by D’Zurilla and Nezu in 2007.

    On the other hand, it should be mentioned that emotional responses can facilitate or inhibit the performance of problem solving, Depending on certain variables.

      Talents for problem solving

      Problem-solving therapy includes three types of skills: general, specific, and basic. Let’s see them:

      1. General

      These are problem-oriented skills and are used in the first phase of therapy (Orientation phase of the problem), as we will see later. These are general cognitions such as perceiving the problem, attributing causality to it, valuing it and engaging in it.

      2. Specific

      These are the “intermediate” skills that the patient uses (between general and basic), and are put into practice in very specific situations.

      3. Basic

      These are the most specific problem-solving skills and are used in the phases following the first one, to define the problem, generate alternatives, make a decision, apply the solution and check its usefulness.

        Stages of therapy

        Problem-solving therapy is divided into five stages, each of which includes some of the three types of skills discussed. These steps are:

        1. Problem orientation

        It’s about accepting the problems you have, and focusing on the importance of recognizing them and not running away, while maintaining a positive attitude towards them. At this point, the motivational component is very important. The most important variables in this phase are four:

        • Perception of the problem (recognition and labeling).
        • causal attribution of the problem (influences its assessment).
        • Assessment of the problem (personal control; significance for social and personal well-being).
        • Time / effort commitment and personal control

        These variables are in turn the general skills used in this phase, consisting of general problem-oriented cognitions.

        2. Definition and formulation

        In this phase of problem solving therapy, the importance of properly defining the problem is emphasized; according to the authors, if the problem is well defined, half is solved. The variables or steps of this step are:

        • collect information relevant to the problem (type or nature).
        • Set an objective realistic.
        • revaluation the importance of the problem.

        Here, basic skills are used, which are most specific to problem solving. Specifically, at this stage, the skills of problem-sensitivity and perspective-taking are used, which allows the problem to be defined and formulated correctly.

        3. Generation of alternatives

        At this point three are raised principles derived from Guidford’s divergent production and Osborn’s brainstorming method. Basic skills are also used at this stage.

        The three principles raised in this phase are:

        3.1. Quantity principle

        The more ideas proposed, the better, And also more likely to be useful or effective.

        3.2. Principle of adjournment of the trial.

        a person it will generate better solutions if you don’t have to evaluate them at this very moment.

        3.3. Variety principle

        The more varied the ideas, the better and more likely that some will be effective.

        4. Decision making

        Here, the best or the best proposals or ideas are selected, according to the expected consequences; then the results are evaluated and the execution of the ideas or strategies is planned proposals.

        As in the previous phases, basic problem solving skills are also used here; in particular three: alternative thinking (reflection on alternatives), reflection on the means to the end (reflection on the means to achieve the objectives) and consequent reflection (reflection on the consequences of the proposed solutions).

        5. Execution and verification

        Finally, in the last phase of problem-solving therapy, the outcome and effectiveness of the chosen solution in the actual situation of the problem is evaluated. This phase consists of four components or sub-phases:

        • Execution: the solution is implemented.
        • Self-observation: The behavior itself and its results are observed.
        • Self-assessment: the result obtained is compared to the expected result.
        • self-reinforcement: It reinforces his own conduct or performance.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Bas, F. (1992). Cognitive-behavioral therapies: a second critical review. Clinic and health, COP Madrid, 3 (2).
        • Feixas, G; Miró, T. (1993). Approaches to psychotherapy. An introduction to psychological treatments. Ed. Paidós. Barcelona.
        • Bados, A. and García, I. (2014). Problem solving. Faculty of Psychology, University of Barcelona, ​​1-34.

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