Problem Solving Skills by pub14358


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									Problem Solving

Developing Life Skills
   Life is full of crises, problems, and
    decisions, but many people do not have
    the appropriate skills to manage them.
   Much of what we think of as problematic
    behavior in a client can be viewed as the
    consequence of ineffective behavior and
   The individual is unable to resolve certain
    dilemmas in his or her life.
   The unproductive attempts to do so have
    adverse effects such as anxiety and
    depression, not to mention the creation of
    additional problems such as
    confrontations and interpersonal conflict.
   For the professional the way to decode
    the client‟s sometimes incomprehensible
    actions is to ask yourself what he or she
    is trying to “achieve”?
   Often, what the client is trying to achieve
    is the narrowing of the discrepancy
    between their actual state of affairs and
    their desired state of affairs.
   The discrepancy is the problem, and the
    client‟s solutions may be making things
   Problem solving aims to reduce or
    eliminate this gap with some modification.
   Most often as problem solvers we
    try to improve the actual state of
    affairs by finding an answer to a
    difficulty, a solution to a problem.
   Group problem solving is generally
    more fruitful than individual effort.
   In the problem solving approach
    “small” is not so much “beautiful” as
   Problems are not manageable when they
    are conceived in large global terms.
       “Everything is going wrong.”
       “He will never change.”
       “There is no hope.”
       “I seem to have the world on my shoulders.”
   You break through this rhetoric by trying
    to establish and obtain relevant facts.
   The more your clients can adopt a mental
    set that they can cope with a problem,
    the greater the likelihood that with your
    help they will come up with a solution to
   The feeling of being in control, not
    helpless is vital to the successful working
    through of difficult situations and is
    invaluable when you are involved in crisis
   You “re-label” the problem for the
    clients, defining what they once
    thought of as impenetrable as
    “manageable” – given thought and
    calm application of a series of
    interpersonal problem solving
The Development of Problem Solving

   Interpersonal problem solving skills are
    learned from experiences beginning in the
    family and wherever the child interacts
    with others in situations that give rise to
    interpersonal difficulties.
   How well the developing child learns
    these skills is thought to reflect the extent
    to which the child‟s caregivers manifest
    these abilities themselves.
   Also, the degree to which parents
    communicate in ways that encourage the
    exercise of such thinking in the child.
   The emphasis is very much on how the
    person thinks.
   The goal in therapy or training is to
    generate as way of thinking, a way of
    using beliefs and values in making
    decisions at such times the problems
Interpersonal Problem Solving Skills

   Problem sensitivity:
       Ability to be aware of problems that
        arise out of social situations.
       A sensitivity to the kinds of social
        situations out of which interpersonal
        difficulties may arise.
       Ability to examine relationships with
        others in the here and now.
   Alternative solution training:
       Ability to generate a wide variety of
        potential solutions to the problem.
       Skill is to draw from a repertoire of
        ideas representing differing categories
        of solutions to a given problem.
   Brainstorming:
       The creative art of generating the
        greatest number of ideas in the
        shortest possible time.
       Acceptance of every idea uncritically
       Aim for quantity not quality
       At this stage do not initiate any
       List the ideas
       Set a time limit
   Means-ends thinking:
       Ability to articulate the step by step
        means necessary to carry out the
        solution to a given interpersonal
       Ability to recognize obstacles, the social
        sequences deriving from these
       Recognition that interpersonal problem
        solving takes time.
   Consequential thinking:
       Being aware of the consequences of
        social acts as they affect self and
       Ability to generate alternative
        consequences to potential problem
        solutions before acting.
   Causal thinking:
       Reflects the degree of appreciation of
        social and personal motivation.
       Involves the realization that how one
        felt and acted may have been
        influenced by and, in turn, may have
        influenced how others felt and acted.
A Problem Solving Model

   Defining the problem and its
    severity as precisely as possible.
   This entails:
       Assessing the current (actual) state of
       Specifying the desired (ideal) state of
        affairs (goals)
   Assessing the nature and magnitude
    of the problem.
   This entails:
       Listing the “forces” helping the client move
        toward the desired goals
       Listing the “forces” hindering the client from
        moving toward this goal.
   In “force-field analysis” as it is called, the
    problem is viewed as a balance between
    forces pushing in opposite directions.
Current State of Affairs
(Sally’s truancy)

   Helping Forces (+)         Hindering Forces (-)
   The family is behind       Perhaps we put too
    her.                        much pressure on her.
   Sally wants to return      She gets panicky
    to school.                  when she tries.
   The teacher is             Her schoolmates tease
    sympathetic.                her when she
                               There is a bully in her
   Formulate alternative strategies.
   This entails:
       Moving the client from the actual to the
        desired state of affairs.
       Creative and divergent thinking
       Inventiveness
       Critical ability
   You have to change the helping forces
    and the hindering forces in order to alter
    the current state of affairs.
   Now decide and implement the
   This entails:
       Selecting the alternatives that seem
        most likely to succeed.
       Specifying the “know-how” methods
        and other resources required to
        implement the chosen strategy.
   Evaluate the outcome of
    applying the strategy.
   This entails:
       Defining what a successful outcome
        means – in terms of explicit criteria.
       Specifying what the effects or
        consequences of the strategy were.
   The first time you meet Elisa, age 38, she is in the
    hospital emergency room recovering from a severe
    panic attack. Tears are streaming down her face and
    she is having difficulty telling you her story. “They are
    trying to get rid of me. I‟ve worked for them for
    twelve years. Now they make fun of my accent and
    accuse me of chasing customers away. They say it‟s
    my fault the other woman in our unit quit. I don‟t
    know what I will do. I can‟t just get another job.”
   Elisa has been having problems at work for the last ten
    months. Her difficulties started when she returned
    from a leave of absence taken at the time of her son‟s
    death. He had been killed in a gang related incident.
    “He was such a good boy. I don‟t know why it happen.
    I‟m so alone now. I don‟t know what I will do if I lose
    my job.”
Vignette #2
   According to Sheila and Bill W., their twelve year old
    daughter, Rachel, has always been difficult. A couple
    of years ago Rachel was seen by a psychologist who
    confirmed that she has a learning disability. He
    suggested that some of her problems in social relating
    may be related to the learning disorder.
   What finally drove them to seek your services was a
    recent call to Children‟s Protective Services by Rachel‟s
    teacher. Rachel told her teacher that Bill had become
    violent, breaking down her bedroom door and
    threatening to hit her. Sheila says “The social worker
    came to our house and did her „investigation‟. Well,
    Bill was finally cleared but it just created such havoc.
    She‟s driving us to this. She acts as though she hates
    us. It‟s just tearing our family apart.”
Vignette #3
   Melissa, age 13, is brought in by her mother, Emily.
    Over the weekend, Melissa took ten Tylenol. She said
    she took them because she wanted to die but then got
    very scared and told her mother who called the
    pediatrician. Melissa had an upset stomach but did not
    require treatment.
   Melissa‟s parents separated a year ago after her father
    announced he had fallen in love with another woman
    and was going to live with her. “I never thought this
    could happen to us. He was the perfect Dad. I really
    thought he loved us. Then all of a sudden… It‟s like
    someone came and stole his body and there‟s this
    horrible person who‟s pretending to be my father. It‟s
    just not real.” Emily sits sullenly, shaking her head in
    agreement, with tears running down her face.

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