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The Benefits of Play: How Educational Games Can Improve Learning
In today’s digital age, children and adults alike are spending more time in front of screens. While excessive screen time can have negative effects, there is a growing body of research that suggests that certain types of screen activities, such as playing educational games, can actually be beneficial for learning. In this article, we will explore the benefits of play and how educational games can improve learning.
Enhanced Cognitive Skills
Educational games are specifically designed to engage players in a way that promotes learning. These games often require problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and decision-making abilities. As players navigate through different levels and challenges, they are forced to think strategically and make informed choices. This not only enhances their cognitive skills but also helps them develop better problem-solving techniques that can be applied to real-life situations.
Furthermore, educational games often present information in a fun and interactive manner. This makes it easier for players to retain knowledge and understand complex concepts. Whether it’s solving math problems or learning about historical events, educational games provide an engaging platform for active learning.
Increased Motivation and Engagement
One of the biggest challenges in education is keeping students motivated and engaged. Traditional teaching methods often fail to capture the attention of learners, leading to disinterest and lackluster performance. Educational games address this issue by incorporating elements of play into the learning process.
By turning education into a game-like experience, students become more motivated to participate actively in their own learning journey. The competitive nature of many educational games encourages students to strive for improvement and achieve higher scores or levels. This sense of achievement boosts their confidence and drives them to continue learning.
Additionally, educational games often provide immediate feedback on performance. This instant feedback loop allows players to identify areas where they need improvement without feeling discouraged or overwhelmed by traditional grading systems. By focusing on progress rather than perfection, educational games foster a growth mindset and encourage learners to embrace challenges.
Personalized Learning Experience
Every learner is unique, with different strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. Traditional classroom settings often struggle to accommodate individual needs due to time constraints and limited resources. Educational games offer a solution by providing a personalized learning experience.
Many educational games adapt to the player’s performance and adjust the difficulty level accordingly. This ensures that learners are neither overwhelmed nor bored by content that is too easy or too challenging for them. By tailoring the experience to each individual, educational games allow learners to progress at their own pace and focus on areas where they need more practice.
Furthermore, educational games often provide opportunities for self-directed learning. Players can explore different topics or subjects that interest them, deepening their understanding and expanding their knowledge beyond what is covered in traditional curricula. This autonomy in learning fosters a sense of ownership and empowers learners to take control of their education.
Social Interaction and Collaboration
Contrary to popular belief, educational games can also promote social interaction and collaboration among players. Many multiplayer educational games allow students to work together towards a common goal, fostering teamwork skills and cooperation.
Collaborative gameplay encourages communication, negotiation, and problem-solving within a group setting. Players learn how to share responsibilities, delegate tasks, and support each other’s learning process. These social skills are essential not only in academic settings but also in real-life situations where teamwork is required.
Moreover, educational games often incorporate online platforms or communities where players can connect with others who share similar interests. This provides an opportunity for learners to engage in discussions, exchange ideas, and learn from peers around the world. By connecting learners globally, educational games broaden their horizons and expose them to diverse perspectives.
In conclusion, playing educational games offers numerous benefits for learners of all ages. From enhancing cognitive skills and increasing motivation to providing personalized learning experiences and promoting social interaction, educational games have the potential to revolutionize the way we learn. By harnessing the power of play, we can create engaging and effective learning experiences that inspire a lifelong love for knowledge.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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17 Unbeatable Team Building Problem Solving Activities
Problem-solving is a critical skill for professionals and with team building problem-solving activities, you can sharpen your skills while having fun at the same time.
Updated on August 31, 2021
In the professional world, one thing is for sure: problem-solving is a vital skill if you want to survive and thrive. It’s a universal job skill that organizations seek in new potential employees and that managers look for when considering candidates for promotions.
But there’s a problem. According to Payscale , 60% of managers feel that new grads entering the workforce lack problem-solving abilities – making it the most commonly lacked soft skill.
Problem-solving skill needs to be practiced and perfected on an ongoing basis in order to be applied effectively when the time comes. And while there are tons of traditional approaches to becoming a better problem-solver, there’s another (much more interesting) option: team building problem solving activities.
The good news? This means learning and having fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive. And you can create a stronger team at the same time.
11 In-Person Team Building Problem Solving Activities for Your Work Group
1. cardboard boat building challenge, 2. egg drop , 3. clue murder mystery, 4. marshmallow spaghetti tower , 5. corporate escape room, 6. wild goose chase, 7. lost at sea , 8. domino effect challenge, 9. reverse pyramid , 10. ci: the crime investigators, 11. team pursuit, 5 virtual team building problem solving activities for your work group , 1. virtual escape room: mummy’s curse, 2. virtual clue murder mystery, 3. virtual escape room: jewel heist, 4. virtual code break , 5. virtual trivia time machine.
- 6. Virtual Jeoparty Social
There are a ton of incredible team building problem solving activities available. We’ve hand-picked 11 of our favorites that we think your corporate group will love too.
Split into teams and create a cardboard boat made out of just the materials provided: cardboard and tape. Team members will have to work together to engineer a functional boat that will float and sail across water without sinking. Once teams have finished making their boats, they will create a presentation to explain why their boat is the best, before putting their boats to the test. The final challenge will have teams racing their boats to test their durability! Nothing says problem-solving like having to make sure you don’t sink into the water!
Every day at work, you’re forced to make countless decisions – whether they’re massively important or so small you barely think about them.
But your ability to effectively make decisions is critical in solving problems quickly and effectively.
With a classic team building problem solving activity like the Egg Drop, that’s exactly what your team will learn to do.
For this activity, you’ll need some eggs, construction materials, and a place you wouldn’t mind smashing getting dirty with eggshells and yolks.
The goal of this activity is to create a contraption that will encase an egg and protect it from a fall – whether it’s from standing height or the top of a building. But the challenge is that you and your team will only have a short amount of time to build it before it’s time to test it out, so you’ll have to think quickly!
To make it even more challenging, you’ll have to build the casing using only simple materials like:
- Plastic wrap
- Rubber bands
- Popsicle sticks
- Cotton balls
Feel free to have some fun in picking the materials. Use whatever you think would be helpful without making things too easy!
Give your group 15 minutes to construct their egg casing before each team drops their eggs. If multiple eggs survive, increase the height gradually to see whose created the sturdiest contraption.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of using eggs for this activity, consider using another breakable alternative, such as lightbulbs for a vegan Egg Drop experience.
With Clue Murder Mystery, your team will need to solve the murder of a man named Neil Davidson by figuring out who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime.
But it won’t be easy! You’ll need to exercise your best problem-solving skills and channel your inner detectives if you want to keep this case from going cold and to get justice for the victim.
Collaboration is critical to problem solving.
Why? Because, as the old saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This expression reflects the fact that people are capable of achieving greater things when they work together to do so.
If you’re looking for a team building problem solving activity that helps boost collaboration, you’ll love Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower.
This game involves working in teams to build the tallest possible freestanding tower using only marshmallows, uncooked spaghetti, tape, and string.
The kicker? This all has to be done within an allotted timeframe. We recommend about thirty minutes.
For an added dimension of challenge, try adding a marshmallow to the top of the tower to make it a little more top heavy.
Whichever team has the highest tower when time runs out is the winner!
If you’ve never participated in an escape room, your team is missing out! It’s one of the most effective team building problem solving activities out there because it puts you and your colleagues in a scenario where the only way out is collaboratively solving puzzles and deciphering clues.
The principle is simple: lock your group in a room, hide the key somewhere in that room, and have them work through challenges within a set time frame. Each challenge will lead them one step closer to finding the key and, ultimately, their escape.
At Outback, we offer “done-for-you” escape rooms where we’ll transform your office or meeting room so you don’t have to worry about:
- Seeking transportation for your team
- Capacity of the escape rooms
- High costs
- Excessive planning
That way, you and your team can simply step inside and get to work collaborating, using creative problem solving, and thinking outside the box.
In this smartphone-based scavenger hunt team building activity , your group will split into teams and complete fun challenges by taking photos and videos around the city. Some examples of challenges you can do in this activity are:
- Parkour: Take a picture of three team members jumping over an object that’s at least waist-high.
- Beautiful Mind: Snap a photo of a team member proving a well-known mathematical theorem on a chalkboard.
- Puppy Love: Take a photo of all of your team members petting a stranger’s dog at the same time.
It takes a ton of critical thinking and problem-solving to be crowned the Wild Goose Chase Champions!
Can you imagine a higher-pressure situation than being stranded at sea in a lifeboat with your colleagues?
With this team building problem solving activity, that’s exactly the situation you and your group will put yourselves. But by the time the activity is over, you’ll have gained more experience with the idea of having to solve problems under pressure – a common but difficult thing to do.
Here’s how it works.
Each team member will get a six-columned chart where:
- The first column lists the survival items each team has on hand (see the list below)
- The second column is empty so that each team member can rank the items in order of importance for survival
- The third column is for group rankings
- The fourth column is for the “correct” rankings, which are revealed at the end of the activity
- The fifth and sixth columns are for the team to enter thee difference between their individual and correct scores and the team and correct rankings
Within this activity, each team will be equipped with the following “survival items,” listed below in order of importance, as well as a pack of matches:
- A shaving mirror (this can be used to signal passing ships using the sun)
- A can of gas (could be used for signaling as it could be put in the water and lit with the pack of matches)
- A water container (for collecting water to re-hydrate)
- Emergency food rations (critical survival food)
- One plastic sheet (can be helpful for shelter or to collect rainwater)
- Chocolate bars (another food supply)
- Fishing rods (helpful, but no guarantee of catching food)
- Rope (can be handy, but not necessarily essential for survival)
- A floating seat cushion (usable as a life preserver)
- Shark repellant (could be important when in the water)
- A bottle of rum (could be useful for cleaning wounds)
- A radio (could be very helpful but there’s a good chance you’re out of range)
- A sea chart (this is worthless without navigation equipment)
- A mosquito net (unless you’ve been shipwrecked somewhere with a ton of mosquitos, this isn’t very useful)
To get the activity underway, divide your group into teams of five and ask each team member to take ten minutes on their own to rank the items in order of importance in the respective column. Then, give the full team ten minutes as a group to discuss their individual rankings together and take group rankings, listed in that respective column. Ask each group to compare their individual rankings with those of the group as a whole.
Finally, read out the correct order according to the US Coast Guard, listed above.
The goal of this activity is for everyone to be heard and to come to a decision together about what they need most to survive.
If your team works remotely, you can also do this activity online. Using a video conferencing tool like Zoom , you can bring your group together and separate teams into “break-out rooms” where they’ll take their time individually and then regroup together. At the end, you can bring them back to the full video conference to go through the answers together.
Many problems are intricately complex and involve a ton of moving parts. And in order to solve this type of problem, you need to be able to examine it systematically, one piece at a time.
Especially in the business world, many problems or challenges involve multiple different teams or departments working through their respective portions of a problem before coming together in the end to create a holistic solution.
As you can imagine, this is often easier said than done. And that’s why it’s so important to practice this ability.
With a collaborative team building problem solving activity like Domino Effect Challenge, that’s exactly what you’ll need to do as you and your group work to create a massive, fully functional chain reaction machine.
Here’s how it goes.
Your group will break up into teams, with each team working to complete their own section of a massive “Rube Goldberg” machine. Then, all teams will regroup and assemble the entire machine together. You’ll need to exercise communication, collaboration, and on-the-fly problem solving in order to make your chain reaction machine go off without a hitch from start to finish.
Being a great problem-solver means being adaptable and creative. And if you’re looking for a quick and easy team building problem solving activity, you’ll love the reverse pyramid.
The idea here is simple: break your group out into small teams and then stand in the form of a pyramid.
Your challenge is to flip the base and the peak of the pyramid – but you can only move three people in order to do so.
Alternatively, rather than doing this activity with people as the pyramid, you can do another version – the Pyramid Build – using plastic cups instead.
This version is a little bit different. Rather than flipping the base of a pyramid to the top, you’ll need to build the pyramid instead–but in reverse, starting from the top cup and working down.
With this version, you’ll need 36 cups and one table per group. We recommend groups of five to seven people. Give your group 20 to 30 minutes to complete the activity.
To get started, place one cup face down. Then, lift that cup and place the subsequent two cups underneath it.
The real challenge here? You can only lift your pyramid by the bottom row in order to put a new row underneath – and only one person at a time can do the lifting. The remaining group members will need to act quickly and work together in order to add the next row so that it will balance the rest of the pyramid.
If any part of your pyramid falls, you’ll need to start over. Whichever team has the most complete pyramid when time runs out will be the winner!
The value of being able to approach problems analytically can’t be overstated. Because when problems arise, the best way to solve them is by examining the facts and making a decision based on what you know.
With CI: The Crime Investigators, this is exactly what your team will be called upon to do as you put your detective’s hats on and work to solve a deadly crime.
You’ll be presented with evidence and need to uncover and decipher clues. And using only the information at your disposal, you’ll need to examine the facts in order to crack the case.
Like many of our team building problem solving activities, CI: The Crime Investigators is available in a hosted format, which can take place at your office or an outside venue, as well as a virtually-hosted format that uses video conferencing tools, or a self-hosted version that you can run entirely on your own.
Each member of your team has their own unique strengths and skills. And by learning to combine those skills, you can overcome any challenge and solve any problem. With Team Pursuit, you and your team together to tackle challenges as you learn new things about one another, discover your hidden talents, and learn to rely on each other.
This team building problem solving activity is perfect for high-energy groups that love to put their heads together and work strategically to solve problems as a group.
If you and your team are working remotely, don’t worry. You still have a ton of great virtual team building problem solving options at your disposal.
In this virtual escape room experience, your team will be transported into a pyramid cursed by a restless mummy. You’ll have to work together to uncover clues and solve complex challenges to lift the ancient curse.
You’ve probably never heard of a man named Neil Davidson. But your group will need to come together to solve the mystery of his murder by analyzing clues, resolving challenges, and figuring out who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit a deadly crime.
This activity will challenge you and your group to approach problems analytically, read between the lines, and use critical thinking in order to identify a suspect and deliver justice.
If you and your team like brainteasers, then Virtual Escape Room: Jewel Heist will be a big hit.
Here’s the backstory.
There’s been a robbery. Someone has masterminded a heist to steal a priceless collection of precious jewels, and it’s up to you and your team to recover them before time runs out.
Together, you’ll need to uncover hidden clues and solve a series of brain-boggling challenges that require collaboration, creative problem-solving, and outside-the-box thinking. But be quick! The clock is ticking before the stolen score is gone forever.
With Virtual Code Break, you and your team can learn to be adaptive and dynamic in your thinking in order to tackle any new challenges that come your way. In this activity, your group will connect on a video conferencing platform where your event host will split you out into teams. Together, you’ll have to adapt your problem-solving skills as you race against the clock to tackle a variety of mixed brainteaser challenges ranging from Sudoku to puzzles, a game of Cranium, riddles, and even trivia.
Curious to see how a virtual team building activity works? Check out this video on a Virtual Clue Murder Mystery in action.
Step into the Outback Time Machine and take a trip through time, from pre-pandemic 21st century through the decades all the way to the 60’s.
This exciting, fast-paced virtual trivia game, packed with nostalgia and good vibes, is guaranteed to produce big laughs, friendly competition, and maybe even some chair-dancing.
Your virtual game show host will warm up guests with a couple of “table hopper rounds” (breakout room mixers) and split you out into teams. Within minutes, your home office will be transformed into a game show stage with your very own game show buzzers!
And if your team loves trivia, check out our list of the most incredible virtual trivia games for work teams for even more ideas.
6. Virtual Jeoparty Social
If your remote team is eager to socialize, have some fun as a group, and channel their competitive spirit, we’ve got just the thing for you! With Virtual Jeoparty Social, you and your colleagues will step into your very own virtual Jeopardy-style game show—equipped with a buzzer button, a professional actor as your host, and an immersive game show platform! Best of all, this game has been infused with an ultra-social twist: players will take part in a unique social mixer challenge between each round.
With the right team building problem solving activities, you can help your team sharpen their core skills to ensure they’re prepared when they inevitably face a challenge at work. And best of all, you can have fun in the process.
Do you have any favorite team building activities for building problem-solving skills? If so, tell us about them in the comments section below!
Learn More About Team Building Problem Solving Activities
For more information about how your group can take part in a virtual team building, training, or coaching solution, reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants.
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10 Best Problem-Solving Therapy Worksheets & Activities
Cognitive science tells us that we regularly face not only well-defined problems but, importantly, many that are ill defined (Eysenck & Keane, 2015).
Sometimes, we find ourselves unable to overcome our daily problems or the inevitable (though hopefully infrequent) life traumas we face.
Problem-Solving Therapy aims to reduce the incidence and impact of mental health disorders and improve wellbeing by helping clients face life’s difficulties (Dobson, 2011).
This article introduces Problem-Solving Therapy and offers techniques, activities, and worksheets that mental health professionals can use with clients.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free . These science-based exercises explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology, including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.
This Article Contains:
What is problem-solving therapy, 14 steps for problem-solving therapy, 3 best interventions and techniques, 7 activities and worksheets for your session, fascinating books on the topic, resources from positivepsychology.com, a take-home message.
Problem-Solving Therapy assumes that mental disorders arise in response to ineffective or maladaptive coping. By adopting a more realistic and optimistic view of coping, individuals can understand the role of emotions and develop actions to reduce distress and maintain mental wellbeing (Nezu & Nezu, 2009).
“Problem-solving therapy (PST) is a psychosocial intervention, generally considered to be under a cognitive-behavioral umbrella” (Nezu, Nezu, & D’Zurilla, 2013, p. ix). It aims to encourage the client to cope better with day-to-day problems and traumatic events and reduce their impact on mental and physical wellbeing.
Clinical research, counseling, and health psychology have shown PST to be highly effective in clients of all ages, ranging from children to the elderly, across multiple clinical settings, including schizophrenia, stress, and anxiety disorders (Dobson, 2011).
Can it help with depression?
PST appears particularly helpful in treating clients with depression. A recent analysis of 30 studies found that PST was an effective treatment with a similar degree of success as other successful therapies targeting depression (Cuijpers, Wit, Kleiboer, Karyotaki, & Ebert, 2020).
Other studies confirm the value of PST and its effectiveness at treating depression in multiple age groups and its capacity to combine with other therapies, including drug treatments (Dobson, 2011).
The major concepts
Effective coping varies depending on the situation, and treatment typically focuses on improving the environment and reducing emotional distress (Dobson, 2011).
PST is based on two overlapping models:
Social problem-solving model
This model focuses on solving the problem “as it occurs in the natural social environment,” combined with a general coping strategy and a method of self-control (Dobson, 2011, p. 198).
The model includes three central concepts:
- Social problem-solving
- The problem
- The solution
The model is a “self-directed cognitive-behavioral process by which an individual, couple, or group attempts to identify or discover effective solutions for specific problems encountered in everyday living” (Dobson, 2011, p. 199).
Relational problem-solving model
The theory of PST is underpinned by a relational problem-solving model, whereby stress is viewed in terms of the relationships between three factors:
- Stressful life events
- Emotional distress and wellbeing
- Problem-solving coping
Therefore, when a significant adverse life event occurs, it may require “sweeping readjustments in a person’s life” (Dobson, 2011, p. 202).
- Enhance positive problem orientation
- Decrease negative orientation
- Foster ability to apply rational problem-solving skills
- Reduce the tendency to avoid problem-solving
- Minimize the tendency to be careless and impulsive
D’Zurilla’s and Nezu’s model includes (modified from Dobson, 2011):
- Initial structuring Establish a positive therapeutic relationship that encourages optimism and explains the PST approach.
- Assessment Formally and informally assess areas of stress in the client’s life and their problem-solving strengths and weaknesses.
- Obstacles to effective problem-solving Explore typically human challenges to problem-solving, such as multitasking and the negative impact of stress. Introduce tools that can help, such as making lists, visualization, and breaking complex problems down.
- Problem orientation – fostering self-efficacy Introduce the importance of a positive problem orientation, adopting tools, such as visualization, to promote self-efficacy.
- Problem orientation – recognizing problems Help clients recognize issues as they occur and use problem checklists to ‘normalize’ the experience.
- Problem orientation – seeing problems as challenges Encourage clients to break free of harmful and restricted ways of thinking while learning how to argue from another point of view.
- Problem orientation – use and control emotions Help clients understand the role of emotions in problem-solving, including using feelings to inform the process and managing disruptive emotions (such as cognitive reframing and relaxation exercises).
- Problem orientation – stop and think Teach clients how to reduce impulsive and avoidance tendencies (visualizing a stop sign or traffic light).
- Problem definition and formulation Encourage an understanding of the nature of problems and set realistic goals and objectives.
- Generation of alternatives Work with clients to help them recognize the wide range of potential solutions to each problem (for example, brainstorming).
- Decision-making Encourage better decision-making through an improved understanding of the consequences of decisions and the value and likelihood of different outcomes.
- Solution implementation and verification Foster the client’s ability to carry out a solution plan, monitor its outcome, evaluate its effectiveness, and use self-reinforcement to increase the chance of success.
- Guided practice Encourage the application of problem-solving skills across multiple domains and future stressful problems.
- Rapid problem-solving Teach clients how to apply problem-solving questions and guidelines quickly in any given situation.
Success in PST depends on the effectiveness of its implementation; using the right approach is crucial (Dobson, 2011).
Problem-solving therapy – Baycrest
The following interventions and techniques are helpful when implementing more effective problem-solving approaches in client’s lives.
First, it is essential to consider if PST is the best approach for the client, based on the problems they present.
Is PPT appropriate?
It is vital to consider whether PST is appropriate for the client’s situation. Therapists new to the approach may require additional guidance (Nezu et al., 2013).
Therapists should consider the following questions before beginning PST with a client (modified from Nezu et al., 2013):
- Has PST proven effective in the past for the problem? For example, research has shown success with depression, generalized anxiety, back pain, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and supporting caregivers (Nezu et al., 2013).
- Is PST acceptable to the client?
- Is the individual experiencing a significant mental or physical health problem?
All affirmative answers suggest that PST would be a helpful technique to apply in this instance.
Five problem-solving steps
The following five steps are valuable when working with clients to help them cope with and manage their environment (modified from Dobson, 2011).
Ask the client to consider the following points (forming the acronym ADAPT) when confronted by a problem:
- Attitude Aim to adopt a positive, optimistic attitude to the problem and problem-solving process.
- Define Obtain all required facts and details of potential obstacles to define the problem.
- Alternatives Identify various alternative solutions and actions to overcome the obstacle and achieve the problem-solving goal.
- Predict Predict each alternative’s positive and negative outcomes and choose the one most likely to achieve the goal and maximize the benefits.
- Try out Once selected, try out the solution and monitor its effectiveness while engaging in self-reinforcement.
If the client is not satisfied with their solution, they can return to step ‘A’ and find a more appropriate solution.
When dealing with clients facing negative self-beliefs, it can be helpful for them to use positive self-statements.
Use the following (or add new) self-statements to replace harmful, negative thinking (modified from Dobson, 2011):
- I can solve this problem; I’ve tackled similar ones before.
- I can cope with this.
- I just need to take a breath and relax.
- Once I start, it will be easier.
- It’s okay to look out for myself.
- I can get help if needed.
- Other people feel the same way I do.
- I’ll take one piece of the problem at a time.
- I can keep my fears in check.
- I don’t need to please everyone.
5 Worksheets and workbooks
Problem-solving self-monitoring form.
Answering the questions in the Problem-Solving Self-Monitoring Form provides the therapist with necessary information regarding the client’s overall and specific problem-solving approaches and reactions (Dobson, 2011).
Ask the client to complete the following:
- Describe the problem you are facing.
- What is your goal?
- What have you tried so far to solve the problem?
- What was the outcome?
Reactions to Stress
It can be helpful for the client to recognize their own experiences of stress. Do they react angrily, withdraw, or give up (Dobson, 2011)?
The Reactions to Stress worksheet can be given to the client as homework to capture stressful events and their reactions. By recording how they felt, behaved, and thought, they can recognize repeating patterns.
What Are Your Unique Triggers?
Helping clients capture triggers for their stressful reactions can encourage emotional regulation.
When clients can identify triggers that may lead to a negative response, they can stop the experience or slow down their emotional reaction (Dobson, 2011).
The What Are Your Unique Triggers ? worksheet helps the client identify their triggers (e.g., conflict, relationships, physical environment, etc.).
Imagining an existing or potential problem and working through how to resolve it can be a powerful exercise for the client.
Use the Problem-Solving worksheet to state a problem and goal and consider the obstacles in the way. Then explore options for achieving the goal, along with their pros and cons, to assess the best action plan.
Getting the Facts
Clients can become better equipped to tackle problems and choose the right course of action by recognizing facts versus assumptions and gathering all the necessary information (Dobson, 2011).
Use the Getting the Facts worksheet to answer the following questions clearly and unambiguously:
- Who is involved?
- What did or did not happen, and how did it bother you?
- Where did it happen?
- When did it happen?
- Why did it happen?
- How did you respond?
2 Helpful Group Activities
While therapists can use the worksheets above in group situations, the following two interventions work particularly well with more than one person.
Generating Alternative Solutions and Better Decision-Making
A group setting can provide an ideal opportunity to share a problem and identify potential solutions arising from multiple perspectives.
Use the Generating Alternative Solutions and Better Decision-Making worksheet and ask the client to explain the situation or problem to the group and the obstacles in the way.
Once the approaches are captured and reviewed, the individual can share their decision-making process with the group if they want further feedback.
Visualization can be performed with individuals or in a group setting to help clients solve problems in multiple ways, including (Dobson, 2011):
- Clarifying the problem by looking at it from multiple perspectives
- Rehearsing a solution in the mind to improve and get more practice
- Visualizing a ‘safe place’ for relaxation, slowing down, and stress management
Guided imagery is particularly valuable for encouraging the group to take a ‘mental vacation’ and let go of stress.
Ask the group to begin with slow, deep breathing that fills the entire diaphragm. Then ask them to visualize a favorite scene (real or imagined) that makes them feel relaxed, perhaps beside a gently flowing river, a summer meadow, or at the beach.
The more the senses are engaged, the more real the experience. Ask the group to think about what they can hear, see, touch, smell, and even taste.
Encourage them to experience the situation as fully as possible, immersing themselves and enjoying their place of safety.
Such feelings of relaxation may be able to help clients fall asleep, relieve stress, and become more ready to solve problems.
We have included three of our favorite books on the subject of Problem-Solving Therapy below.
1. Problem-Solving Therapy: A Treatment Manual – Arthur Nezu, Christine Maguth Nezu, and Thomas D’Zurilla
This is an incredibly valuable book for anyone wishing to understand the principles and practice behind PST.
Written by the co-developers of PST, the manual provides powerful toolkits to overcome cognitive overload, emotional dysregulation, and the barriers to practical problem-solving.
Find the book on Amazon .
2. Emotion-Centered Problem-Solving Therapy: Treatment Guidelines – Arthur Nezu and Christine Maguth Nezu
Another, more recent, book from the creators of PST, this text includes important advances in neuroscience underpinning the role of emotion in behavioral treatment.
Along with clinical examples, the book also includes crucial toolkits that form part of a stepped model for the application of PST.
3. Handbook of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies – Keith Dobson and David Dozois
This is the fourth edition of a hugely popular guide to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies and includes a valuable and insightful section on Problem-Solving Therapy.
This is an important book for students and more experienced therapists wishing to form a high-level and in-depth understanding of the tools and techniques available to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists.
For even more tools to help strengthen your clients’ problem-solving skills, check out the following free worksheets from our blog.
- Case Formulation Worksheet This worksheet presents a four-step framework to help therapists and their clients come to a shared understanding of the client’s presenting problem.
- Understanding Your Default Problem-Solving Approach This worksheet poses a series of questions helping clients reflect on their typical cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses to problems.
- Social Problem Solving: Step by Step This worksheet presents a streamlined template to help clients define a problem, generate possible courses of action, and evaluate the effectiveness of an implemented solution.
- 17 Positive Psychology Exercises If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others enhance their wellbeing, check out this signature collection of 17 validated positive psychology tools for practitioners . Use them to help others flourish and thrive.
While we are born problem-solvers, facing an incredibly diverse set of challenges daily, we sometimes need support.
Problem-Solving Therapy aims to reduce stress and associated mental health disorders and improve wellbeing by improving our ability to cope. PST is valuable in diverse clinical settings, ranging from depression to schizophrenia, with research suggesting it as a highly effective treatment for teaching coping strategies and reducing emotional distress.
Many PST techniques are available to help improve clients’ positive outlook on obstacles while reducing avoidance of problem situations and the tendency to be careless and impulsive.
The PST model typically assesses the client’s strengths, weaknesses, and coping strategies when facing problems before encouraging a healthy experience of and relationship with problem-solving.
Why not use this article to explore the theory behind PST and try out some of our powerful tools and interventions with your clients to help them with their decision-making, coping, and problem-solving?
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free .
- Cuijpers, P., Wit, L., Kleiboer, A., Karyotaki, E., & Ebert, D. (2020). Problem-solving therapy for adult depression: An updated meta-analysis. European P sychiatry , 48 (1), 27–37.
- Dobson, K. S. (2011). Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies (3rd ed.). Guilford Press.
- Dobson, K. S., & Dozois, D. J. A. (2021). Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies (4th ed.). Guilford Press.
- Eysenck, M. W., & Keane, M. T. (2015). Cognitive psychology: A student’s handbook . Psychology Press.
- Nezu, A. M., & Nezu, C. M. (2009). Problem-solving therapy DVD . Retrieved September 13, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/pubs/videos/4310852
- Nezu, A. M., & Nezu, C. M. (2018). Emotion-centered problem-solving therapy: Treatment guidelines. Springer.
- Nezu, A. M., Nezu, C. M., & D’Zurilla, T. J. (2013). Problem-solving therapy: A treatment manual . Springer.
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