by Julia Gomes, M.S., M.A.
Problem-Solving is a technique that is commonly used in our everyday lives. Whether you are trying to manage a small problem such as figuring out what to wear for the day, or you’re trying to solve a larger issue, effective problem-solving skills is important. Not only is this strategy helpful for individuals with mental health diagnoses such as anxiety and depression, but it is also useful for anyone who encounters a problem or stressful situation. These 6 steps are grounded in research and are used to help find a good solution to a problem you may face.
- Identify the Problem. What is the problem? Define it as clearly and specifically as possible. Remember that you can only solve one problem at a time.
- Brainstorm Solutions. What can be done? Think of as many solutions as you possibly can, even if they seem silly! Try to be creative when thinking about all of the possibilities.
- Evaluate the Alternatives. Once you’ve developed a list of solutions, it is then time to start thinking about the consequences of your ideas. It is helpful to make a list of the positive and negative outcomes for each potential solution.
- Choose a solution. Pick the solution that will maximize the positive consequences and minimizes the negative consequences.
- Try the Solution. Try out the idea that you have chosen and give it more than one opportunity for it to work. If it doesn’t work think about why. Was there some consequence you didn’t think of? Is there another problem in the way?
- If At First You Don’t Succeed… Try another solution and don’t give up! Everything does not always work out the first time and you can learn from your mistakes to help you choose a better solution next time.
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