Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man.... No problem of human destiny is 3 beyond human beings.
—John F. Kennedy
According to Caplan (1964), a person is constantly faced with a need to solve problems to maintain equilibrium. When he is confronted with an imbalance between the difficulty (as he perceives it) of a problem and his available repertoire of coping skills, a crisis may be precipitated. If alternatives cannot be found or if solving the problem requires unusual amounts of time and energy, disequilibrium occurs. Tension rises and discomfort is felt, with associated feelings of anxiety, fear, guilt, shame, and helplessness.
One purpose of the crisis approach is to provide the consultation services of a therapist who is skilled in problem-solving techniques. The therapist will not have an answer to every problem; however, he will be expected to be competent in problem solving, guiding and supporting his client toward crisis resolution. The therapeutic goal for the individual seeking help is to establish a level of emotional equilibrium equal to or better than the precrisis level.
Problem solving requires that a logical sequence of reasoning be applied to a situation in which an answer is required for a question and in which there is no immediate source of reliable information (Black, 1946). This process may take place either consciously or unconsciously. Usually the need to find an answer or solution is felt more strongly when such a resolution is most difficult.
The problem-solving process follows a structured, logical order of steps, each depending on the one preceding. In the routine decision making required in daily living, this process is rarely necessary. Most people are unaware that they may follow a defined, logical sequence of reasoning in making decisions; often they remark that only some solutions seem to have been reached more easily than others. Finding out the time or deciding which shoe to put on first rarely calls for long, involved reasoning, and more often than not the question arises and the answer is found without any conscious effort.