What is Problem-Solving Therapy? (The Pros and Cons)

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Published Date|
February 9, 2024

What is Problem-Solving Therapy? (The Pros and Cons)

When you’re navigating a difficult situation, it can feel like problems keep piling up. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged when you can’t seem to find a solution to any of them.

Fortunately, problem-solving therapy can be a short-term, effective way to find the answers you need.

Here at KMA Therapy, we know that choosing a type of therapy should be the least of your problems. We’re passionate about educating our clients and community about the different types of therapy available, and how to know which ones could be a great choice for them.

After reading this article, you’ll know what problem-solving therapy is, what happens during problem-solving therapy, and its pros and cons.

What is Problem-Solving Therapy?

Problem-solving therapy is a short-form treatment that usually lasts between four and twelve sessions.

It is most frequently used to treat depression, with a primary focus on helping you build the tools needed to identify and solve problems.

The main goal of problem-solving therapy is to improve your overall quality of life by helping you reduce the impact of stressors and problems you’re facing.

Problem-solving therapy is used to treat:

  • PTSD
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Self-harm behaviours

If you’re experiencing suicidal ideation or are having thoughts of harming yourself, you can connect with Talk Suicide Canada for immediate support.

What Happens During Problem-Solving Therapy?

During problem-solving therapy, your therapist will focus on two main components.

1. Positive problem-solving framework

Positive problem-solving involves creating a framework that allows you to view things in a positive way by allowing yourself to feel confident and capable when handling your problems.

This means figuring out how to accept that you’ll still face problems in your life, while feeling more sure about your ability to face, address, and overcome them.

what happens during problem-solving therapy

2. Planful problem-solving

Planful problem-solving involves four steps that help you learn how to solve problems in a healthy way:

  • Defining the problem that you need to solve in a way where potential solutions can be created
  • Exploring alternative solutions to the problem you’re facing by listing as many creative solutions to your problem as you can
  • Discussing decision-making strategies to help you know which solution to choose and how to adapt to overcome obstacles
  • Implementing your solution for your problem and assessing whether it was the right choice

problem-solving therapy pros and cons

What are the Pros of Problem-Solving Therapy?

Problem-solving therapy is an effective and helpful form of therapy that can help you see meaningful changes in your life in a short amount of time.

Problem-solving therapy may be a great choice for you if:

  • You want a short-term form of therapy
  • You’re facing specific issues that you want to build solutions for
  • You’re looking for clear solutions to problems without unpacking the cause

In general, problem-solving therapy is a great choice if there’s something specific in your life that’s causing additional problems.

For example, if you’re struggling with depression that makes you unable to keep in touch with loved ones or stay on top of your bills, problem-solving therapy can be a great choice to help you find solutions that work for these specific issues.

However, if you’re struggling to find the motivation to get out of bed in the morning because you want a deeper sense of purpose in your life, another form of therapy might be a better choice.

What are the Cons of Problem-Solving Therapy?

While problem-solving therapy can be quick, effective, and empowering, it’s not always the best choice if you’re interested in more in-depth conversations in therapy.

Problem-solving therapy may not be the right fit if you:

  • Are looking to unpack or reprocess past experiences
  • Want to explore complex or existential questions in therapy
  • Are interested in changing general behavioural patterns (rather than specific problems)

Alternatives to Problem-Solving Therapy

After learning about the pros and cons of problem-solving therapy, you may be interested in some alternative forms of therapy to explore.

Alternatives to problem-solving therapy include:

  • Existential therapy, which allows you to explore your sense of purpose and meaning in life
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy, which focuses on helping you restructure your thought and behaviour patterns
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy, which helps you build skills to change and solve problems, with an additional focus on mindfulness and relationships

Next Steps for Beginning Therapy

After reading this article, you know what problem-solving therapy is and how to know if it’s the right choice for you.

Here at KMA Therapy, our passionate team of therapists has been supporting our clients with tailored therapy plans for over 15 years.

You don’t have to know exactly what type of therapy you want to pursue when you meet a therapist for the first time, so don’t worry if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

It’s helpful to have a sense of what you like and dislike, and what types of therapy sound interesting to you - but your therapist will help you choose what will work best and create a treatment plan customized to you.

Register online for more information or download our free Therapy 101 Guide to learn more.

If you’d prefer to keep reading, explore these articles we’ve chosen for you:

Author |
Emily Weatherhead
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