The counselor welcomes the client and provides an overview of the session. In this session, the counselor explains the steps involved in problemsolving. Providing formal training in solving problems may accelerate the development of higher order coping strategies that go beyond situation-specific skills. This training helps clients act as their own counselors when they are no longer engaged in a formal treatment situation. The problemsolving approach used in BMDC is adapted from D’Zurilla and Goldfried (1971; see also CSAT 1998).

Discuss the Importance of Solving Problems

The counselor explains the rationale for learning an approach to solving difficult problems:

Counselor (C): Situations become problems when people think they have no effective coping responses to handle them. Individuals can be flooded by emotions when faced with a problem and may be unable to manage the problem constructively. People who use marijuana and other drugs may encounter the following types of problems:

Situations where drug use had occurred

• Situations that arise after drug use has been stopped (e.g., social pressure to use, cravings, slips)

• Difficulties developing new activities that help maintain abstinence (e.g., new recreational habits).

The counselor describes steps to solve problems and situations where the approach is helpful:

C: Effective problemsolving requires recognizing when you’re confronted with a problem and resisting the temptation to respond impulsively or to do nothing. Coming up with an effective solution requires that you assess the situation to decide the best action.

Sometimes the problem involves wanting to use drugs, such as at a party. At other times, the problem may be the urge to find a quick and easy solution. The pressure may get to you and trigger using. Effective problemsolving strategies must be part of your abstinence program because the occurrence of problems can set the stage for a relapse.