What is the Problem-Solving Model?

The Problem-Solving Brief Therapy Model is a means of evaluating challenges in life and strategizing ways to change the situation that has maintained the problem the client faces. By contextualizing the negative experience within the client’s interactions, we’re able to disrupt the status quo and bring positive change.

The seeds of the model was sown in Palo Alto, CA in the mid-fifties at the Mental Research Institute. Through its founders: Dick Fisch, Paul Watzlawick, John Weakland, Gregory Bateson, Jay Haley and Milton Erickson, the Problem-Solving Model turned the therapy world on its head.

This family therapy model prioritizes the problems that clients bring to the table instead of searching for explanations and enforcing diagnoses. When a client starts a conversation, it is because they have identified that something is wrong and they have to change. The Problem-Solving Model allows us to look at the here and now, recognize how the client’s actions and those of people around them are unwittingly perpetuating the negative results. Together the client and their therapist then look to the future by developing strategies to break this cycle and achieve positive change.

By allowing the client to drive the conversation, they immediately uncover opportunities to bring a positive change to their unique situation. The Problem-Solving Brief Therapy Model is applied in psychotherapy, business consultations and other human interaction situations by narrowing the focus of the work to something actionable, where the client can affect change in their environment. Our role as practitioners of the model is to leave the client with the tools to manage their lives in a more effective and results oriented way.


Learning Resources

I highly recommend these resources for their in depth coverage of the Problem-Solving Model, its history, and its wide array of applications.

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Trainings at the Brief Therapy Center


Videos and Other Recordings


Books and Other Publications