Mary McMurran and Stephen Coupe describe a promising approach to a distressing disorder
What is problem-solving therapy?
Problem-solving therapy has a solid evidence base for alleviating distress and improving social functioning in people with a range of psychological and health problems. This approach has considerable appeal for both therapists and clients, in that its basic principles are easy to understand, it does not pathologise individuals, and it empowers people to solve those problems that they prioritise. Applications of problem-solving therapy for people who are diagnosable with personality disorders have been pioneered by researchers and clinicians in the UK.
Social problem solving is the process by which individuals attempt to discover and apply adaptive means of coping with the wide variety of stressful problems encountered in the course of everyday living (D’Zurilla & Nezu, 2007). There is abundant evidence of an association between social problem-solving deficits and psychological distress, physical ill health, substance misuse, hostility and aggression, and mental health problems. Problem-solving therapy can help people to cope better with everyday problems and can lead to better mental and physical health. Problem-solving therapy teaches the skills required for effective social problem solving. These are the ability to recognise problems when they arise, define the problem clearly and accurately, set realistic goals for change, produce a diversity of possible solutions, anticipate outcomes, devise effective actions plans that have stepwise stages, and carry out those action plans to solve problems effectively.
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