Problem Solving in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

A Skills-Based, Collaborative Approach

Katharina Manassis

Hardcovere-bookprint + e-book
March 2, 2012
ISBN 9781462503704
Price: $33.00
208 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
March 19, 2012
ePub ?
Price: $33.00
208 Pages
print + e-book
Hardcover + e-Book (ePub) ?
Price: $66.00 $36.30
208 Pages

This highly accessible book presents clear steps for helping children and adolescents to develop and test out new solutions to specific social, emotional, or behavioral challenges. The author demonstrates how therapists of any orientation can implement problem solving as a stand-alone intervention or in combination with other therapeutic techniques. Extensive clinical examples illustrate what the approach looks like in action with kids of different ages; how it increases their confidence, independence, and resilience; and ways to involve parents. Strategies for overcoming frequently encountered obstacles to problem solving are highlighted throughout.

“Katharina Manassis's well-organized, readable volume is full of relevant information and strategies that are easily translated to the school setting. In addition to detailing the nuts and bolts of the problem-solving approach, this book sparkles with detailed and realistic case scenarios that bring the theory and process to life. This book also provides on-the-ground strategies for working with anxious, inattentive, oppositional, or cognitively challenged children and is therefore an applicable and valuable resource for any school social worker….An accessible and engaging guide to helping children find solutions to social, emotional, and behavioral challenges….Although this book is ostensibly for use in the clinical setting, it is deeply relevant to the practice of school social work.”

School Social Work Journal

“Manassis presents an interesting, concise, easy-to-read, appropriately documented book in which her familiarity and skill in using this approach enables her to write a readable and potentially very helpful guidebook to using problem-solving strategies. This book can be helpful reading to anyone involved in therapeutic endeavors with populations ranging from children through adults. The book could be helpful adjunctive reading in any graduate social work, psychology, or psychiatry training program in any course focusing on therapeutic strategies and treatments.”

Child and Family Behavior Therapy

“Problem solving is one of the most basic and important ways of handling difficult situations. Teaching children simple and structured ways to find solutions to everyday problems will give them one of the best starts to an emotionally healthy life. The clear language and practical strategies in this book will be helpful for anyone working with children who are 'stuck,' whether they are depressed, anxious, or just going through a tough time.”

—Ronald M. Rapee, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and founding director, Center for Emotional Health, Macquarie University, Australia

“Problem solving is a powerful, tried-and-true strategy shown to help individuals of all ages resolve challenging social, emotional, and behavior dilemmas. Manassis teaches clinicians how and when to use this strategy in a clear, detailed, step-by-step approach. The book is rich with case examples and clinical wisdom. It equips clinicians with the foundation they need to teach children and parents how to successfully use problem solving and incorporate it into their daily lives.”

—Golda S. Ginsburg, PhD, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

“Manassis succeeds in providing a robust, accessibly written guide with a wealth of clinical scenarios. Punctuated with specific examples of therapeutic questions and statements, this book is a wonderful addition to the libraries of clinicians, supervisors, and graduate students.”

—Robert D. Friedberg, PhD, ABPP, Professor and Director, Center for the Study and Treatment of Anxious Youth, Palo Alto University

“Manassis gives step-by-step instructions for problem solving and discusses common challenges in implementation, with specific guidance for treating anxious, oppositional, and inattentive children. The book's many clinical examples incorporate the use of child-friendly language. Tables in each chapter help practitioners easily review and remember the main points for each problem-solving step; guidelines for using problem solving in group settings and with parents and families broaden the book’s utility. This is a highly useful guide for therapists and counselors working with children and adolescents.”

—Jill Waterman, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles

“Practical, readable, compassionate, and filled with rich and realistic examples from the author’s extensive clinical experience, this book provides detailed guidance for effective problem solving with young people and families with a variety of challenges. A particular strength is the author’s wise attention to common pitfalls in applying these strategies. This would be an excellent textbook in training programs for professionals working with children and families.”

—E. Jane Garland, MD, FRCPC, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Canada

“A 'must-have' resource for all mental health professionals and trainees working with children and adolescents. Manassis reviews the empirical evidence for using a problem-solving approach and thoroughly describes applications across a range of clinical issues. Most striking is the candid exploration of typical problem-solving challenges, including much-needed recommendations for systematic, creative solutions. Clinicians will appreciate Manassis's spot-on evaluation of the complexities inherent to the therapeutic process. This book demonstrates the value of helping children and families learn and practice problem-solving skills that, ultimately, can empower for a lifetime.”

—Barbara A. Gueldner, PhD, NCSP, private practice, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Table of Contents

1. What Is Problem Solving?

2. When and with Whom Can You Use Problem Solving?

3. Step 1: Defining the Problem

4. Step 2: Generating Alternative Solutions

5. Step 3: Evaluating Alternatives and Making a Choice

6. Step 4: Trying a New Solution

7. Step 5: Following Up and Evaluating Outcomes

8. Combining Problem Solving with Other Interventions

9. Problem Solving in Groups

10. Problem Solving with Parents and Families

11. Troubleshooting

About the Author

Katharina Manassis, MD, FRCPC, is Staff Psychiatrist and Senior Associate Scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, where she founded and continues to work in the Anxiety Disorders Program for children and youth. The Program focuses on the development and scientific evaluation of cognitive-behavioral treatments. Dr. Manassis is also Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and a member of the Human Development and Applied Psychology Department at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. These appointments allow her to supervise graduate students, residents, and fellows in the treatment and study of childhood anxiety. Dr. Manassis leads several funded research studies to better understand and treat childhood anxiety disorders. She has published over 60 papers in professional journals in this field and is the author of two widely read books for parents, Keys to Parenting Your Anxious Child and Helping Your Teenager Beat Depression, as well as books for child mental health professionals on cognitive-behavioral therapy and problem solving.


Clinical child/adolescent psychologists, school psychologists, counselors, social workers, and psychiatrists.

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in graduate-level courses.