We all face problems in life and structured problem solving is a proven approach that many people have found helpful for working through difficult problems no matter what it is.
Structured problem solving (SPS) is a skill you can learn that helps you to step back and look at your problems, in a clearer, more structured way. It’s a “thinking skill” that can help you take control of your problems and gives you a roadmap to work through them. It is widely used by personal coaches and has also proven helpful in managing mild to moderate depression.
Structured problem solving can be done on your own, with someone else or as a small group. The aim is to clearly define the problem and then work together to generate ideas and solutions.
You may find this useful when dealing with a current problem, and once you have learnt the technique you may find it helpful when dealing with future issues.
Structured problem solving became popular after proving useful for people with alcohol and drug problems. It is now used by everyone and anyone as the principles apply no matter what the issue. Common problems managed with structured problem solving include:
- Relationship problems or problems with children.
- Unemployment or change of job/occupation.
- Housing problems.
- Sexual problems.
- Isolation from friends.
- Problems with studying.
- Drug and alcohol problems.
Try using this problem solving worksheet to help guide you through the steps.
Mood Juice NHS Scotland
Problem solving – for people living with health conditions NHS Foundation Trust, UK, 2014
Blashki G, et al. Structured problem solving in general practice. Australian Family Physician Vol 32, No.10, October 2003
McKay, M. & Fanning, P. (2002). Successful Problem-Solving. A Workbook to Overcome the Four Core Beliefs That Keep You Stuck. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.