What is Problem Solving for One (PS1)

Problem Solving for OneProblem solving for one (PS1) helps people develop useful strategies in negotiation, mediation and other tough situations.  Originally, PS1 was developed in Sydney, Australia to support those who sought mediation, but for whom the other party would not participate.  The process is built around three core activities:

  • problem analysis,
  • generating and costing options and
  • developing effective communication strategies.

Problem analysis helps parties gain greater perspective on the situation.  Generating and costing options builds on perspective allowing participants to have better insight into the consequences of action.  Developing effective communication strategies is predicated upon the observation that no matter how good an idea is, it is useless if participants are unable or unwilling to communicate it.  Tricia Jones and Ross Brinkert, in their book Conflict Coaching, explain the origins of PS1:

The need for a one-on-one conflict resolution process, in cases where only one party was present for mediation, emerged at Macquarie University in Australia in 1993 (Tidwell, 1997). A response to this need was formalized and put into practice on campus … and was known as “problem solving for one.” This process involved a six-step model based on the generation of multiple solutions and the selection of optimal solutions through a cost-benefit analysis.

Since its development training in PS1 has been delivered in both the US and Australia, in both the private and public sectors.  It has spawned additional research and has been adapted as

  • a pre-negotiation planning process,
  • a family dispute resolution process and
  • serves as a basis for a NASA funded computer-based treatment for depression.

In the US PS1 training has been provided to the World Bank, the US Agricultural Marketing Service, National Mediation Board, and Georgetown University.  In Australia the New South Wales Department of School Education, Relationships Australia and Macquarie University have received PS1 training.

Additional Reading:

Tidwell, Alan, “Problem Solving for One,” Mediation Quarterly, 14(4), Summer 1997.

Tidwell, Alan, “A Preliminary Evaluation of Problem Solving for One,” Mediation Quarterly, 18 (3), Spring, 2001.

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