DBT assumes analysis and insight of problems are not enough. Therefore, problem solving strategies go beyond simply understanding the origins of problems and focus on active attempts to develop a plan for making change.
These strategies address specific problems that come up in everyday life.
The overall goal is to help people change their behavior. In DBT all dysfunctional behaviors are seen as problems to be solved. The problem solving and solution strategies are designed to help people become more active in dealing with problems, rather than being passive or helpless.
Many people with BPD have learned that problems are insurmountable. Therefore they often approach problems passively or they believe they are helpless in the face of a problem.
If someone presents a problem with a solution that the therapist believes is maladaptive (suicidality, drug use, aggression etc), the therapist helps the person to clearly articulate the problem. In these cases, it is the task of the therapist and individual to collaborate in developing and implementing new, more effective solutions to current problems in life.
These solutions might include learning new behaviors, such as how to effectively assert yourself, how to self-soothe or how to act opposite to a current emotion.
Finding the right solution to any one problem depends on whether the correct cause and factors maintaining the problem have been determined. You need to understand and accept the problem and attempt to generate, evaluate, and implement alternate solutions to be used in the future.
The solution to any specific problem is only effective if it is possible to carry out and the individual actually does carry out the solution.
Photo by Cesar Bojorquez, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.