Final Case Assignment: Application of the Problem-Solving Model and Theoretical Orientation

Final Case Assignment: Application of the Problem-Solving Model and Theoretical Orientation



Final Case Assignment: Application of the Problem-Solving Model and Theoretical Orientation


D’Zurilla and Goldfried (1971) defined problem-solving as a cognitive or overt process that provides a wide range of effectual reaction alternatives for dealing with a certain problem or situation. It also increases the possibility of choosing the most helpful response from the available options. After conducting extensive research on the basic operations that are involved in efficient problem-solving, D’Zurilla developed a simple model that consists of five steps representing the problem-solving process. These include the following:

On top of the problem-solving model, it is also important to apply a theoretical orientation in the process in order to conceptualize the evaluation and intervention of the problems facing the client (D’Zurilla & Goldfried, 1971). The presentation uses D’Zurilla’s problem-solving model to address the issue on the case of Tiffani Bradley.

  1. General orientation
  2. Problem description and formulation
  3. Generation of alternatives
  4. Decision making
  5. Verification

Theoretical Orientation

The theoretical orientation suitable for Tiffani Bradley’s case is the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) theory. CBT is a psychotherapy treatment which applies a practical approach in problem-solving (Guidano, 1987). Its main aim is changing the patterns of behavior or thinking which causes difficulties in the victims’ lives, thus assisting them to lead a normal life, free of too much stress. The therapy treatment is used to deal with a variety of personal problems, including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, sleeping problems as well as alcohol and drug abuse. CBT functions through changing the attitudes and behaviors of people by placing the focus on the images, thoughts, attitudes and beliefs of the individual, and how they influence the behavior of the person as a way of reacting to the emotional problems (Guidano, 1987). There are three main classes of CBT, but for this case, the problem-solving therapy will be used. Tiffani is a victim of sexual exploitation and has also experienced relationship problems; therefore, the CBT can be effective in changing her attitudes and behavior, for a better life.

Problem Orientation

Using the first step of the problem-solving model, we can be able to explore Tiffani’s situation in an attempt to categorize it from many other related situations. Before coming to the conclusion about the specific problem that Tiffani is facing, which influences her attitude and behavior, it is important first consider the possibility of other conditions that also relate to her impulse activities. This way, we can be able to apply the accurate therapy to help her. She is a victim of sexual exploitation and is socially detached. Coming from a broken and unstable family, she also experiences relationship problems. As a result, she is emotionally distressed and this impacts her attitudes and behavior. Tiffani could therefore be suffering from various psychological problems ranging from depression, trauma and psychodynamic problems. The next stage of the model will identify the exact problem.

Problem Definition and Formulation

In order to identify the specific problem Tiffani has, according to the second step of the model, we first have to break down her situation, in order to rule out the extraneous (D’Zurilla & Goldfried, 1971). Tiffani was raised in an unstable family, with parents who paid little attention to her welfare and that of her little sister Diana. She remembers that when she was only 8 years old, she had to wash her own clothes and prepare food for her and Diana, because her parents neglected them, and spent most of the time abusing drugs. Sometimes, they had to go to bed hungry, because there was no food to prepare. Her uncle also touched her inappropriately on several occasions until she finally ran away for fearing that he would rape her one day. Having nowhere else to go, she was forced into prostitution by a pimp who picked her up, known as Donald. Tiffani currently lives at the Teens First group home, by the courts mandate, where she is involved in a counseling program for victims of sexual exploitation. She claims that she misses her mother and sister, but also desires to return to Donald, who she self proclaims as her husband. Therefore, Tiffani’s emotional problems stem from lack of family care and love, or a healthy relationship which can help alleviate her suffering.


There are a variety of solutions that can be applied in Tiffani’s case to help her adjust her psychological distress. Some of these solutions include psychodynamic relational therapy, trauma counseling, narrative therapy, self regulation therapy, supportive therapy and many more (Ellis, 1980). Below is a description of two examples of these solutions:

Psychodynamic Relational Therapy

This therapy recognizes that an individual can only achieve emotional wellbeing when they satisfy mutual interactions with other people (Ellis, 1980). Relational therapists understand that emotional difficulties are caused experiences from the past or the present, which have derailed the client’s emotional or physical safety, self worth or autonomy. Therefore, the therapists work with the unique experiences of clients in a specific relational or social context, to offer them a new experience by guiding them to engage in strengthening and supportive relationships. The main aim of this therapy is to establish a growth experience for the client via interpersonal connection.

Self Regulation Therapy

This therapy determines that emotional dysregulation is caused by traumatic experiences, which also affect the autonomic nervous system or ANS (Ellis, 1980). Therapists also understand that ANS is capable of restoring self regulation via personal interventions, which enables individuals to track their own negative experiences and discharge the tension that is held within the body through natural fight (Fuchs & Rehm, 1977).

Solution Implementation

After generating various alternatives for solving the client’s emotional problem, it is now time to select the best option that can effectively address the issue. This is the fourth step of the problem-solving process: the Decision Making stage (D’Zurilla & Goldfried, 1971). Having assessed Tiffani’s situation in great depths, with regards to the available solutions, we can now make an informed decision about the best solution to implement. The psychodynamic relational therapy offers treatment that covers all of Tiffani’s problems, and can effectively help her to loosen grip on the negative past events and focus on building new relationships that can help her form positive connections with supportive people and groups and experience personal grow (Ellis, 1980). She would be guided through this process, for example, by taking her to school where she can interact and make good friends.

Client’s Ability to Mobilize the Solution for Change

The psychodynamic relational therapy is a very effective solution, especially regarding the situation of Tiffani Bradley. For the most part of her teenage life, when she should have had the chance of interacting freely with peers and forming positive relationships for personal growth, she was isolated from social life and forced to live through harassments. This solution will therefore offer her the freedom that she lacked for a long time, and also teach her to be responsible. In addition, she would be advised to choose her friends wisely in order to avoid negative influence which can put her in trouble again. Therefore, it is expected that she would surely transform after going through the program.

Evaluating Whether the Outcome is Achieved

It is important to test whether the solution has been effective in achieving the intended outcome. This is the last step of the problem-solving model; the Verification stage. In order to determine that the solution is successful, Tiffani has to demonstrate behavioral and attitude change. She also must also be able to show that she has cut ties with the wrong friends such as Donald and John T., and form new relationships with well behaved people. Positive change can also be determined when she seeks her family reunion and a concern for her parents and her sister Diana. She should also be able to work hard in school in order to make a future for herself, so that she can no longer depend on other people for help.

How well the Model can be used for Short Term Treatment of Tiffani

The problem-solving model can efficiently be used for the short term treatment of Tiffani by enabling her to change her attitudes and behavior in order to help her establish a better life in future. The model can play a very important role, especially at the decision making stage, in choosing the best solution that can change the client’s life, and pave the way for a greater future for her. For example, the model can help Tiffany to avoid tethering her life on people who do not have a positive impact on it, and rather pursue her own dreams without disruptions.

Merit and Limitation of the Model


The most important advantage of the problem-solving model is that provides a guideline that is easy to follow in making decision and implementing solutions for a variety of problems. The model is also effective and precise, and also allows the implementer to test whether they have been successful in achieving the desired outcome from the process, by reviewing the results.


One disadvantage of the problem-solving model is that it follows a long procedure that is time consuming, before arriving at a decision for the best solution. Sometimes, other problems are clear to discern and therefore it is pointless to waste too much time using the model on such issues.


D’Zurilla, T. J., & Goldfried, M. R. (1971). Problem-Solving and Behavior Modification. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 78, 107–126.

Ellis, A. (1980). Rational-Emotive Therapy and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy: Similarities and Differences. Cognitive Research and Therapy, 4, 325–340.

Fuchs, C. Z., & Rehm, L. P. (1977). A Self-Control Behavior Therapy Program for Depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 45, 206–215.

Guidano, V. F. (1987). Complexity of the Self: A Developmental Approach to Psychopathology and Therapy. New York: Guilford Press.