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 they are.
Structured problem-solving (SPS) is a skill people can learn that helps them to step back and look at their problems in a clearer, more structured way. It’s a thinking skill that can help people take control of their problems and gives them a road map to follow. It is widely used by personal coaches and has also proven helpful in managing mild-to-moderate depression.
Structured problem-solving can be done by a person on their 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.
People may find this useful when dealing with a current problem, and once they have learnt the technique they may find it helpful when dealing with future issues.
Structured problem-solving became popular after proving useful for people with alcohol and drug problems. Structured problem-solving is now used by everyone and anyone, as the principles apply no matter what the issue.
Common issues managed with structured problem-solving include:
becoming more active
changing to healthy food options
joining a club.
Try using this problem-solving worksheet to help guide you through the steps.
Structured problem-solving training module
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. Aust Fam Physician. 2003 Oct; 32(10), October 2003
McKay M & Fanning P. Successful problem-solving – a workbook to overcome the four core beliefs that keep you stuck Oakland, CA: New Harbinger; 2002.