DIAGNOSIS: Depression
TREATMENT: Problem-Solving Therapy for Depression

2015 EST Status: Treatment pending re-evaluation Very strong: High-quality evidence that treatment improves symptoms and functional outcomes at post-treatment and follow-up; little risk of harm; requires reasonable amount of resources; effective in non-research settings

Strong: Moderate- to high-quality evidence that treatment improves symptoms OR functional outcomes; not a high risk of harm; reasonable use of resources

Weak: Low or very low-quality evidence that treatment produces clinically meaningful effects on symptoms or functional outcomes; Gains from the treatment may not warrant resources involved

Insufficient Evidence: No meta-analytic study could be identified

Insufficient Evidence: Existing meta-analyses are not of sufficient quality

Treatment pending re-evaluation

1998 EST Status: Strong Research Support Strong: Support from two well-designed studies conducted by independent investigators.

Modest: Support from one well-designed study or several adequately designed studies.

Controversial: Conflicting results, or claims regarding mechanisms are unsupported.

Strength of Research Support

Empirical Review Status
2015 Criteria
(Tolin et al. Recommendation)
Very Strong
Insufficient Evidence
Treatment pending re-evaluation
1998 Criteria
(Chambless et al. EST)

Find a Therapist specializing in Problem-Solving Therapy for DepressionList your practice

Brief Summary

  • Basic premise: the manner in which people historically and currently cope with extant stressful events via effective social problem solving may affect the degree to which they will experience psychological distress
  • Essence of therapy: Contemporary Problem-Solving Therapy, or PST, is a transdiagnostic intervention, generally considered to be under a cognitive-behavioral umbrella, that increases adaptive adjustment to life problems and stress by training individuals in several affective, cognitive, and behavioral tools. The training is aimed at several barriers to effective problem solving. Through experiential practice, PST helps people to train their brains to overcome common barriers to the way they react to and attempt to solve real-life problems.
  • Length: approx. 12 sessions; however, effective changes have been observed in PST programs with as few as 4 sessions and may extend to long-term intervention when individuals have long-term and inflexible problem-solving styles or a high degree of emotional dysregulation.

Treatment Resources

Editors:Alexandra Greenfield, MS

Note: The resources provided below are intended to supplement not replace foundational training in mental health treatment and evidence-based practice

Treatment Manuals / Outlines

Treatment Manuals

Treatment manuals available upon request for patients with depression and breast cancer, depression and heart failure, depression and hypertension, and veterans with housing instability (contact Dr. Arthur Nezu)

Books Available for Purchase Through External Sites

Measures, Handouts and Worksheets

Self-help Books

Important Note: The books listed above are based on empirically-supported in-person treatments. They have not necessarily been evaluated empirically either by themselves or in conjunction with in-person treatment. We list them as a resource for clinicians who assign them as an adjunct to conducting in-person treatment.

Smartphone Apps

Video Demonstrations

Videos Available for Purchase Through External Sites

Clinical Trials

Meta-analyses and Systematic Reviews

Other Treatment Resources