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Problem Solving is a helpful intervention whenever clients present with difficulties, dilemmas, and conundrums, or when they experience repetitive thought such as rumination or worry. Effective problem solving is an essential life skill and this Problem Solving worksheet is designed to guide adults through steps which will help them to generate solutions to ‘stuck’ situations in their lives. It follows the qualities of effective problem solving outlined by Nezu, Nezu & D’Zurilla (2013), namely: clearly defining a problem; generation of alternative solutions; deliberative decision making; and the implementation of the chosen solution.
The therapist’s stance during problem solving should be one of collaborative curiosity. It is not for the therapist to pass judgment or to impose their preferred solution. Instead it is the clinician’s role to sit alongside clients and to help them examine the advantages and disadvantages of their options and, if the client is ‘stuck’ in rumination or worry, to help motivate them to take action to become unstuck – constructive rumination asks “How can I…?” questions instead of “Why…?” questions.
In their description of problem solving therapy Nezu, Nezu & D’Zurilla (2013) describe how it is helpful to elicit a positive orientation towards the problem which involves: being willing to appraise problems as challenges; remain optimistic that problems are solvable; remember that successful problem solving involves time and effort.
- What is the nature of the problem?
- What are my goals?
- What is getting the way of me reaching my goals?
- “Can you think of any ways that you could make this problem not be a problem any more?”
- “What’s keeping this problem as a problem? What could you do to target that part of the problem?”
- “If your friend was bothered by a problem like this what might be something that you recommend they try?”
- “What would be some of the worst ways of solving a problem like this? And the best?”
- “How would Batman solve a problem like this?”
- Consider short term and long-term implications of each strategy
- Implications may relate to: emotional well-being, choices & opportunities, relationships, self-growth
- The next step is to consider which of the available options is the best solution. If you do not feel positive about any solutions, the choice becomes “Which is the least-worst?”. Remember that “even not-making-a-choice is a form of choice”.
- The last step of problem solving is putting a plan into action. Rumination, worry, and being in the horns of a dilemma are ‘stuck’ states which require a behavioral ‘nudge’ to become unstuck. Once you have put your plan into action it is important to monitor the outcome and to evaluate whether the actual outcome was consistent with the anticipated outcome.
- Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression . New York: Guilford. Nezu, A. M., Nezu, C. M., D’Zurilla, T. J. (2013). Problem-solving therapy: a treatment manual . New York: Springer.
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Notice and challenge your thoughts using this easy-to-remember THINK acronym
THINK ! This page as PDF
Ask yourself if your thought is:
Is this thought FACT or opinion ?
- What IS true about this situation? What ARE the facts?
Is this thought helpful to me?
- What WOULD be helpful to think, right now?
Inspiring or Important?
Does this thought inspire me, or is it very important, right now?
- What IS important, right now?
Do I really need to believe and act on this thought? Immediately? Later? Never?
- What IS necessary to do, right now?
Is this thought kind to me or others? Is this thought kind to me? Is it kind about others?
- What WOULD be kind, right now?
If you answer NO to any of these THINK questions, you can safely dismiss the thought. Then choose your new focus of attention.
THINK - video
APPLE: A Mindful Response To Thoughts - video
ABCDE: Responding to Thoughts
Court Case thought challenge (webpage)
Fact Or Opinion
APPLE : A mindful response to thoughts and feelings
The Helicopter View
About Automatic Thoughts
THE DECIDER SKILLS FOR SELF HELP
Self Help Videos - watch below or on YouTube
What Is CBT - basic vicious cycle
STOPP - the short version
NOW : Mindfulness Exercise - the short version
APPLE : Mindful Response To Thoughts - the short version
The Court Case - short version
THINK : Thought Challenging - the short version
SEEK LIFT Positive Steps To Wellbeing - the short version
The Battery : LIFT vs DROP Activities - the short version
FACE Fear And Avoidance - short version
Fact or Opinion - the short version
Find Meaning : Live A Life of Purpose - the short version
SHARP Specs : Noticing The Positives - the short version
ACE : Achieve, Connect, Enjoy - short version
STOPP - longer version
Neuroplasticity (by Sentis)
Emotions And The Brain (by Sentis)
NOW : Mindfulness For Busy People - longer version
SEEK LIFT : Positive Steps To Wellbeing - longer version
The Battery : LIFT vs DROP Activities - longer version
THINK - longer version
FACE Fear And Avoidance - longer version
FACT Or OPINION ? - longer version
FIND MEANING - longer version
CBT Vicious Cycles
ACE Activity - longer version
SHARP Specs : Notice The Positives - longer version
The Court Case : Thought Challenging - longer version
APPLE : A Mindful Response To Thoughts - longer version
Generalised Anxiety Disorder And Worry
De-Stress NOW - using STOPP
THE DECIDER SKILLS FOR SELF HELP