Problem Solving

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Problem Solving CBT Worksheet

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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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problem solving pdf get self help

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

Useful Links

ABCDE:   Responding to Thoughts

Thought Challenging

Court Case thought challenge  (webpage)

Fact Or Opinion

APPLE :  A mindful response to thoughts and feelings

The Helicopter View

About Automatic Thoughts

Different Perspectives

Flexible Thinking

Useful links


problem solving pdf get self help

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problem solving pdf get 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

Health Anxiety

Social Anxiety

De-Stress NOW - using STOPP

Inspiring Quotes


problem solving pdf get self help

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