Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 73–82 | Cite as

Guided Discovery

Problem-Solving Therapy Integrated Within the Socratic Method
  • James C. OverholserEmail author
Original Paper


Guided discovery involves a therapeutic dialogue that is designed to assist clients in finding their own solutions to their problems. An integration of problem-solving therapy and the Socratic method can help clients to develop their own coping skills. Problem-solving therapy provides a useful framework for helping clients to manage many of the problems they typically encounter. The Socratic method provides a useful therapeutic style to promote self-guided discovery and self-regulation. Strategies from the Socratic method can be used to guide the process of the therapeutic dialogue, while the stages of problem-solving serve as the structure for the content of therapy sessions. Therapy can be structured according to five main stages: (1) Help clients establish a realistic and adaptive attitude toward common life problems; (2) Define problems in terms of specific and realistic goals; (3) Help clients to generate a wide variety of coping options; (4) Guide clients through a process of rational decision-making in order to select the best coping options, and (5) Implement the plan and evaluate its effectiveness. A systematic series of questions can be used to facilitate the client’s self-evaluation of different problems, goals, and coping efforts. The process helps to promote client autonomy and self-guided action. When problem-solving therapy is integrated within the Socratic method, clients can learn to approach most problems in a logical, thoughtful, and self-directed manner.


Psychotherapy process Guided discovery Socratic method 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

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