Externalizing The Problem Worksheet

Learn more about Externalizing The Problem Worksheet, an essential narrative approach to understand better challenged and enhance problem solving.

By Priya Singh on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is an Externalizing The Problem Worksheet?

When faced with an issue or problem, it is typical for individuals to assume that they see the groundings of the problem to be within them or believe that something within their inner selves is causing the issue. This type of thinking is called internalizing the problem, a style of thinking that can lead to misappraisal of the source and may lead to poor mental health outcomes or low self-esteem.

Given that the challenges we humans face are often multi-faceted, involving other aspects outside of ourselves, it is important to broaden the context of the problem. This is called externalizing problems, whereby the problem is better understood as a product of cultural practices, history, and life. In narrative therapy, the aim of externalizing the problem is to engage in conversations that separate the individual's sense of self from the problem.

This technique can be done in many ways in therapy or counseling services, depending on the person's life, ideas, and problems. To simplify the process of externalizing problems, we at Carepatron have devised an externalizing problem worksheet. The worksheet can be introduced by health practitioners, like therapists or counselors, to clients to promote a new way of thinking and problem-solving to overcome challenges.

Printable Externalizing The Problem Worksheet PDF

Work through conflicts with our free Externalizing The Problem Worksheet PDF

How does the worksheet work?

The worksheet opts as a resource to be used alongside externalizing conversations, allowing practitioners to support clients in their reflections about the problem in relation to the context. This may include discussing contextual factors such as the relationships they are involved in, their responsibilities, identity, and the role of society.

To show you how the worksheet may work in practice, we have broken down the process into the following steps:

Step 1: Access the worksheet

Begin by accessing our free Externalizing The Problem Worksheet here, or download a printable PDF copy by following the link below:

Step 2: Introduce the worksheet

In your client consultations, you may find your client may benefit from using the worksheet. In this case, introduce the worksheet by presenting your client with either a digital or physical copy that they can fill in. Within this introduction, it would also be beneficial to explain the use of the resource in therapeutic practice and how it may support your client.

Step 3: Client worksheet completion

Allow your clients some time to complete the worksheet, only providing advice or suggestions if your client seeks clarity on a particular section.

Step 4: Interpret the worksheet

Alongside your client, review your client's responses to all sections of the worksheet. Within this step, it is crucial to note that you are simply discussing your client's answers to the corresponding section rather than critiquing their answers. It may be beneficial to ask follow-up questions for a specific response, mainly when answers are vague or require more information.

Step 5: Treatment planning

Now that you have insight into the client's interpretation of the problem, you can identify the factors influencing the problem. This can be used to inform narrative therapy techniques and approaches to help support your client's understanding. In particular, this may involve helping clients externalize the problem.

Step 6: Ongoing monitoring and support

Externalization and narrative therapy often involve more than one session. Therefore, it is essential to provide clients with ongoing monitoring and support. This will enhance your client's experiences and continue enhancing your understanding of the situation to inform better the resources and strategies implemented.

Externalizing The Problem Worksheet example (sample)

To demonstrate how this resource may operate in practice, we at Carepatron have devised an example. The example takes the perspective of a fictional client, using fictional information to convey a narrative and responses to each section of the worksheet. Viewing this example before using our printable externalizing the problem worksheet is recommended to understand how it can be filled out and practice interpretation. However, the information in the worksheet should not be used to devise client treatment or narrative practices.

Download our free Externalizing The Problem Worksheet example here

Externalizing The Problem Worksheet example

When would this worksheet be used?

An Externalizing The Problem worksheet can be used in various situations involving narrative practices, therapy, or introducing an alternative way of thinking to appraise a person's life or problem. The following are some particular instances in which this may be most readily applied:

Narrative therapy

For practitioners conducting narrative therapy with clients experiencing multiple traumas, depression, anxiety, or complex trauma, externalizing conversations may be greatly beneficial. Clients dealing with these adverse mental health issues often internalize the problem as being a product of their own life choices or lack of responsibility when, in reality, it is likely to have been out of their control. Through externalization, the person can separate the problem from their identity, reducing feelings of guilt or self-blame, and determine the root cause of the issue to find a solution.

Post-traumatic stress therapy

Clients suffering trauma following violence or sexual abuse can, at times, blame themselves for the situation, which can lead to further negative impacts on their lives in the form of depression or guilt, which can hurt their recovery. Engaging in externalization during therapy may shift the person's understanding of the situation for a more preferred narrative. This may provide clarity and create space between the individual and the situation.

Problem-solving technique

An important aspect of problem-solving in therapy is reviewing the client's stories or recollections of their own stories. Engaging in externalizing conversations may provide broader contextualization of the problem and influencing factors, helping focus therapeutic solutions or revise narrative therapy treatment plans to address the problem.

The benefits of an Externalizing The Problem Worksheet

Our free Externalizing The Problem Worksheet utilizes the concept of externalization from narrative therapy to structure a simple form that can quickly be completed by clients engaged in this form of treatment. This allows clients to take their time to write down necessary details, simultaneously providing practitioners further insight into the client's perspective. The following are some of the benefits of using this worksheet in practice:

Clarifying the problem

The worksheet is a key resource for narrative therapy, as it structures necessary details that may influence a situation and client experiences. These details are key for practitioners to unpack the problem and gain insight into the person's life, helping clarify the problem and develop effective solutions.

Client empowerment

In therapy, it is fundamental that practitioners allow clients to control their narrative. The difficulty with this concept is that following a traumatic situation, clients may find it difficult to talk or convey details about the problem in words. Using this technique may help clients explain their experiences, thoughts, and feelings in a potentially more comfortable way.

Deeper reflection

Using the worksheet provides a practical approach to the externalization process, allowing clients time to reflect on the relationship between the problem and their lives. In doing so, they may find a different perspective, or the practitioner may highlight some details the client had not considered.

Why use Carepatron as your therapy app?

Embark on a journey to enhancing your therapeutic alliance, practice, and client experiences with Carepatron today!

At Carepatron, we strive to develop innovative solutions that enhance the experiences of both health practitioners and their clients. Our revolutionary technology optimizes various administrative tasks like appointment scheduling and reminders to improve communication channels and allow practitioners to allocate more time and resources to providing quality care to their clients.

Being an online platform, Carepatron ensures continuous access to thousands of resources similar to this one, alongside features like clinical documentation for an all-in-one practice management software. Additionally, our externalizing the problem app allows for mobile access for practitioners and clients, which is essential for those on the go.

In understanding the importance of reliability, our technology allows for secure data storage, assuring practitioners and clients that any information held in the app and software is kept safe in compliance with worldwide security requirements.

Therapy software benefit
When would an Externalizing The Problem Worksheet be used?
When would an Externalizing The Problem Worksheet be used?

Commonly asked questions

When would an Externalizing The Problem Worksheet be used?

Although these worksheets can be used in many instances, they are most commonly used as a tool during narrative therapy to support externalizing thinking.

Who may benefit from Externalizing The Problem worksheet?

Practitioners may find the worksheet most beneficial for individuals experiencing internalizing thoughts following a problematic or traumatic event. This may include clients who struggle with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression.

How do you create an Externalizing The Problem Worksheet?

A worksheet can be created simply by using our free Externalizing The Problem Worksheet, which can be accessed electronically or downloaded as a PDF to print. Clients can readily use this resource in your next session, or you can adapt it to meet the specific needs of your clients and practice.

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