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Problem Solving

Problem Solving

Problem Solving
activities for helping the youth solve problems. These activities should involve the therapist teaching the youth how to approach and solve problems. This technique is less powerful if the therapist solves the problem for the child by giving him solutions.

This element is a part of larger evidence-based packages for the treatment of attention problems, depression, disruptive behavior and eating problems.  When problem solving is paired with Parent Management Training approaches, this combined approach has the BEST support for disruptive behaviors and GOOD support for attention problems.

What should my child’s therapist be doing?

  • Explaining the rationale behind problem solving as part of the treatment plan to help your child
  • Teaching your child how to look at and solve problems, which involves:
    • Clearly defining the problem. It is usually a good idea to take one problem at a time, and to pick the problem that is causing the most difficulty for your child.
    • Coming up with possible solutions to the problem.
    • Looking at each solution and weighing the benefits or good results it might bring compared to any negative results (if you try this, then that is likely to happen…).
    • Picking a solution and trying it out. Often it is a good idea if the therapist gives your child “homework” that will give your child opportunities to practice using this solution.
    • Measuring how well the solution worked in addressing the problem.

What should I be doing?

  • Learning the steps to problem solving and showing your child how you are using the steps to solve problems of your own. This will give your child another example of how problem solving is done.  If you need some help to do this, you can ask the therapist for assistance.
  • Reminding your child of the steps to problem solving.
  • Encouraging your child to come up with solutions on his own. Ask your child, “What do you think you should do?”  It is better for your child to come up with a solution rather than having you give him a solution to the problem.
  • Asking questions of your child’s therapist as needed. If you are not comfortable asking the therapist questions, you can first talk things over with a friend or relative, or talk with someone from a parent support group. They can hopefully help you feel more comfortable about approaching the therapist.

How will I know if it is working?

  • Your child’s symptoms will improve (e.g., he feels less depressed, he is less likely to show negative behaviors, he is more hopeful about the future, etc.).

To see an extended example, click here and look at pages 22-23.