Practice Problemsolving Skills

The counselor encourages the client to work through the problem-recognition stage: identifying problems, describing each, and writing solutions on paper. The counselor asks the client to weigh alternatives, select the most promising one, and describe both advantages and disadvantages for every alternative. Finally, the client prioritizes the alternatives. The counselor and client role play and evaluate the effectiveness of the most promising solutions:

C: Your upcoming business trip will put you in a tough situation because you’ll be around old friends with whom you got high. What is the problem as you see it?

Miguel (M): I remember the good old times when we would get together and have a great time.

C: Like nostalgia.

M: Yeah; I see these colleagues two or three times a year, and we always smoked together.

C: That’s a good description of the situation, but how do you see the problem?

M: I’m worried that being out of town, away from my family, I’ll give in and get high. I know that if I do, I’ll be upset later.

C: You want to see these people, but you’re concerned about a possible lapse because you’ll want to smoke with them. Have you thought of solutions and how effective they’ll be?

Assign Between-Session Exercise

The counselor presents Problemsolving (form 7A), reviews it, and asks the client to complete the practice exercise for the next session.

Review and Conclude Session

The counselor reviews the content of the session, asks the client for feedback, responds empathically to his or her comments, and troubleshoots any difficulties. The counselor explains that the client will report back on his or her efforts to complete the between-session exercise at the next session. The counselor might remind the client that treatment will be ending soon and solicit the client’s feelings about termination and input on the best way to spend the remaining sessions.