What Do I Do About My Client’s Attitude Towards Problem Solving?

Problem-solving is a goal that many clients have, not just patients with brain injury. While learning problem-solving strategies is important, clinicians and clients should not overlook the influence of attitude on problem-solving. Here are 4 attitudes that help or hinder problem-solving and what clinicians can do about them.

Negative Attitude: “It’s not fair, why me?”

Positive Attitude: “Problems are a normal part of life”

Everyday, people encounter problems that need to be solved. These problems range from minor inconveniences to more serious problems like addiction. Some clients can accept that life presents challenges to everyone, while others struggle to see that these challenges are part of the human experience. The best way to combat this cognitive attitude towards problems is to teach clients to not be threatened or take problems personally when they arise. Helping clients normalize the experience of problems in daily life may help them learn to avoid negative thinking patterns that can hinder their ability to problem solve.

Negative Attitude: “I’m helpless”

Positive Attitude: “I believe that I can solve my problems”

When a problem seems too complex, clients can easily become discouraged and feel helpless. Other reasons may influence this cognitive attitude such as low-self esteem, anxiety, and depression. To help clients tackle the causes and feelings of helplessness, try introducing cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. These techniques can help clients acknowledge the reality of their situation and see that they do have control over some of the problem(s). It will also help them see that they are capable of solving them. Helping your client reach an “I believe that I can solve my problems” attitude is a critical step in the problem-solving process. This attitude is what your client will need to solve other problems in their life.

Negative Attitude: “I don’t like this feeling. I need to escape (what about runaway) from this”

Positive Attitude: “When I feel uncomfortable with my current situation, that’s a sign I should start problem-solving”

Avoiding situations that make us feel uncomfortable is a natural human reaction. However, avoiding problems only increases distress and allows the problem to grow. allows the problem to become larger and cause more distress to the client. Teaching your client strategies ways to learn to take a step backward. By doing this, you can help them acknowledge the discomfort of their situation, and be able to ask themselves “what can I do to change my current situation”? This tactic is important to help them not avoid the problem but embrace the arising obstacles.

Negative Attitude: “When I experience discomfort, I’m going to delve into negative thought patterns”

Positive Attitude: “When I feel uncomfortable with my current situation, I need to stop and think”

The ability to feel discomfort and using that feeling to create change is a key part of the problem-solving process. Being able to step back and analyze the situation is needed to develop ideas is critical for problem-solving success.  When clients feel uncomfortable about a situation in their life, they may experience frustration and negative thinking patterns or a metacognitive perspective. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also effective for this problem-solving obstacle. Cognitive behavioral therapy can teach clients how to step out of negative thought patterns and examine the reality of their situation. 


A client’s attitude towards problem-solving directly influences their ability to solve their problems. Clinicians can help clients overcome negative attitudes towards problem-solving by helping patients accept that problems are normal in life but they can overcome them. Teach their patients about the importance of acknowledging their negative feelings as just a sign that they need to start problem-solving and not as real feelings they need to encode. Lastly introducing Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques as items that can be effective in remediating the psycho-emotional factors that maybe interfere with a person’s attitude towards problem-solving. 


Interested in how to help your client to become a better problem solver? Check out the source video for this article from the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey. 

Dustin Luchmee

Dustin was HappyNeuron's Product Specialist. With research experience in stroke, Dustin learned how a stroke can change someone's life. He also learned how different kinds of therapists can work together to help a person get better. He is passionate about neuro-rehabilitation and finding the active ingredients for effective therapy.

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