Problem Solving Therapy

ProblemSolving Therapy

Psychologistshave been on the front line of developing new approaches to take careof their clients’ problems that are consistent with the changingenvironment and priorities. The changing surrounding promptcounselors to resort to methods that work for the best interest theirpatients and give the best result for their problems. The arena ofcounseling continues to widen to involve ground and individuals.Therefore, various therapies are necessary that are consistent withthe need of the groups and individual clients. Counselors havedistinct approaches to solving the problems of their clients, and oneof the methods used is the problem-solving therapy. It is an approachdeveloped by Jay Haley, and it has a multi-dimensional approach thatapplies to individuals and groups. Haley contributes to the pool ofknowledge of counseling by coming up with a friendly approach thatstimulates the clients to be active participants in therapy andtherefore making the process very effective (Haley, 1987).

Problem-solvingtherapy involves having the patients learn and activate theirproblem-solving skills. The skills developed in this strategy areapplicable in different life situations that relate withpsychological and somatic problems. The therapy is effective in thegeneral practice especially with patient suffering from common mentalillnesses. It shows positive results in the treatment of depressionand antidepressants. It is a sequential process with variousobjective stages aimed at giving the patients a comprehensive carefor their problems. Throughout the process, the counselors assist theclient to develop the capacity to solve problems and then supportthem to practice the acquired skills. Throughout the therapy, theclient applies the learned skills by implementing the solutions theyselect for their problems.

Problem-solvingtherapy is a common choice for therapists and clients since it doesnot require years of training to become applicable in a given case. It is pragmatic and resulted oriented, and when well implemented, itleads to desirable results. It requires a short time of interactionwith the counselor, and it is, therefore, suitable for generalpractice. Although Haley identifies a list of steps that shouldaccompany problem-solving therapy, he summarizes them into three(Haley, 1987).

First,the counselor should engage the client in looking for a possiblesolution for their issues. In also doing, the counselor must createrapport with the client to establish an environment that facilitatesconfidentiality. Clients must feel secure that their information willland in good hands before they give a narrative of their issues. Infamily therapy, the issues are mostly sensitive, and they may havedetrimental effects on the reputation if they fall in the hands ofthe unintended people (Haley, 1987). A family therapist, therefore,should ensure both physical and verbal warmth that reassures theclients of a solution for their problem. Since problem therapyinvolves instigating the patients to propose remedies for theirissues, the counselor acts as a facilitator without making strictimpositions that may render client unwilling to implement.

Thesecond process involves the implementation of what the implementationof the problem-solving procedures. The counselor acts as the overseerto help the patients point out any neglected areas concerning theagreed steps. Finally, the client and the counselor evaluate theprocess to identify the settled disuse and the ones still nagging theclient. The clients identify their developed capacities and how theycan put them into practice (Haley, 1987).

Haleybreaks down the three stages in a series of proceedings that mark thesuccess of each step taken by the client and the counselor. He beginsby outlining the importance of conducting the first interview. It isvery imperative because it sets the tone of the process as well asgiving the client an impression for the journey ahead. The counselorshould strive to render comfort and warmth to allow the patients openup and have a positive attitude toward their capabilities (Haley,1987). Rapport creating occurs at this stage, and the counselorshould vividly inform the client of the kind of relationship theywill forge. In family counseling, it is crucial to mention to thepatient about the extent to which the association can stretch toavoid breaking the protective barrier between the client and thecounselor.

Haleyintroduces the other stage as giving directives in what the therapywill entail. The clients need to have information that they are theones responsible for solving their problems with the facilitation ofthe counselor. It is at this point that the counselor introduces theapproach and acquaints the clients with their roles. At any point, aclient will have a proposal for their most preferred solution to aparticular problem only that they might not be sure of how toimplement it. Problem-solving therapy comes in to lay the path forany intended option (Haley, 1987).

However,not every option that the clients propose would work towards solvingtheir problems. The facilitative role of the counselor comes in handyto aid the patients in deducting the pros and cons of their options.Before embarking on correcting their situations, they choose the mostbeneficial options that are within their capacity.

Haley(1987) notes that the counselor should be very keen to note aspectsof behavior and communication as presented by the patient that mayhave a deeper meaning. These are the dots that can be joined tounderstand a problem better since patients may not give acomprehensive account of their situation. Haley terms thecontextually understandable components of behavior as metaphors thatmay be imperative if transferred to their respective contexts. Theseare important in helping the patient to embark on a potentiallysuccessful therapy (Haley, 1987).

Communicationis also a primary input in problem-solving therapy. The client andthe counselor must settle on the most convenient pattern andhierarchy of communication. The therapy requires the counselor toassess constantly the progress of the patients to identify thechallenges midcourse and develop corrective mechanisms. In familytherapy, the hierarchy of communication becomes necessary since somecultural backgrounds may require communicating to a third party toreach the client (Haley, 1987). The client should inform thecounselor on the most preferred mode of communication when they arenot within the counselors premises. Sometimes, the family hierarchymay dictate observance of the family protocol before accessing thepatient. To a conflict that can hamper the process, the counselor hato be sensitive to communication hierarchy.

Withthe necessary factor in place to start therapy, the counselor shouldacquaint the client with the stages that will mark the successfulcompletion of the therapy. After forging a rapport, the patientsstart implementing the alternatives they settled for their problem.Monitoring takes place by visiting the counselor and identifying thechallenging bits and together institute countermeasures. Thecounselor keeps the client on track and evaluates the success of thealready complete tasks. Finally, the two parties evaluate the problemtherapy at the end of the agreed time. They review the current natureof the problem and note important milestones in the change ofbehavior.

Problem-solvingtherapy takes marriage therapy as a triangle. Counselors should notrule out the triangulation approach. A family member under counselingcare may share information with different members of the family, andit may contribute to the success of the problem solving. A counselormay not treat one family member in isolation of the other member. Forexample, in a family where the husband is under the care, he willrequire the emotional support of the wife, and this makes the wifepart of the therapy as a third.

Thefamily therapists operate under a code of conduct as set out by theAmerican Association of Family and Marriage Therapists. Clients havethe right to non-discrimination on the basis of their background orany other social factor. Therapists also observe non-disclosure ofinformation unless for the purpose of the process. Theproblem-solving therapy honors clients’ autonomy in making informedcomponents about the options they prefer to solve their problems. Therelationship creation in the first stage defines the relationshipbetween the client and the counselor and this curbs any sexualexploitation.

Inconclusion, the problems the relationship between the two partiesshould be in the best interest of the client. The professionalsadhere to the competencies that regulate the practice. Theproblem-solving therapy offers the clients with a chance to makeinformed about the best way to solve their problems.


Haley,J. (1987). Problem-solvingtherapy .New York, NY.: Jossey-Bass.