Solution Building vs Problem Solving?

What happens to us, when we attempt to handle a challenge or solve a problem? Why should we choose between a solution focused and a problem focused approach?

While dealing with any problem or challenge and striving to sort it out, we often waste our time, money, energy and health going in circles. The reason might be simple: our wrong choice between solution building and analysis of the origin/progress of the existing trouble. The two approaches seem to be contradictory when applied together without segregation and the deliberate focus on one of them. The main subject here is the strength of our concentration, while some ”cursory” breakdown and acknowledgement of present problems and past causes are always beneficial.

In most cases, while trying to settle an issue, we are using the both tactics together. The analysis of weaknesses and limitation while breaking down the issue, normally outweighs the actual strengths and possibilities, while trying to build a solution. The main challenge with our attempts to resolve the problem, is that we naturally tend to focus on past problems, and that is, very often, obstructive and misleading

More productive would be to decide, which outcome is more significant for us to have: understanding the problem, its causes and development, or moving forward, trying to avoid deeper involvement into the matter, as it is typically stressful, time-consuming and often destructive process – so, to decide for exploring of our strengths and possibilities and to move ahead as fast as possible.

In some occasions (such as some types of addictions, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, stress, depression, etc.) the problem-focused approach (which might be combined with pharmacotherapy) seems to be the principal path to healing. Among the effective methods – the interventions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which directly facilitate changes in the distorted, negative thinking patterns that may lead to a preoccupation with past problems. In CBT session, the therapist together with a client, breaks each problem down into its separate parts. This will help clients to identify their individual patterns of thoughts, emotions, bodily feelings and actions.

Together they will look at thoughts, feelings and behaviours of a client to work out if they are unrealistic or unhelpful, how they affect each other and client. The therapist will then help client to work out how to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.

Other occasions (such as long lasting and/or disparaging conflicts, couple counselling, underperformance, some types of phobias) might be only worsened by the deeper investigation of their causes.

The method to predominantly explore an individual’s current resources and future hopes, helping them to look forward and use their own strengths to achieve their goals, would be more suitable for this kind of issues.

Both the Solution Focused Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Coaching are aimed at helping individuals overcome problems without tackling them directly – using the solution-building concept to foster change and help individuals to develop a set of clear, concise and realistic goals, to find the courage to move forward (although coaching and therapy have the differences in structural approach, with coaching, classically, being more assertive).

The  coach or therapist will assist in visualising a pure and detailed picture of how clients will see their future – and how things will be better once changes are made. They will also encourage to explore past experiences and times when the clients were as happy as they see themselves in their future vision.

It would normally result in major life changes and we must agree on our readiness to those changes, as, for example, the beginning of a new relationship or changing the job.

The willingness for key changes is the essential prerequisite while choosing between solution building and problem solving



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