Problem Solving Treatment (PST)
The AIMS Center encourages organizations and clinicians to pursue certification in Problem Solving Treatment (PST). Clinicians are taught by expert trainers using procedures and standards set by the National Network of PST Clinicians, Trainers & Researchers. Patrick J. Raue, PhD, Associate Director for Evidence-based Psychosocial Interventions at the AIMS Center, directs the National Network of PST Clinicians, Trainers & Researchers, which was founded by Patricia Areán, PhD.
Problem Solving Treatment (PST), also known as Problem-Solving Treatment – Primary Care (PST-PC), is a brief, evidence-based approach that is effective with a majority of patient populations, including patients of many different cultures. PST teaches and empowers patients to solve the here-and-now problems contributing to their depression and helps increase their self-efficacy.
As part of a treatment plan, PST typically involves six to ten sessions, depending on the patient’s needs. The first appointment is approximately one hour long (this can be split into two separate ½ hour sessions if scheduling an hour is difficult) because it includes psychoeducation and an introduction to the PST model. Subsequent appointments are 30 minutes long.
Psychotherapy plays an important part in a patient's treatment plan, given patient preferences and the limitations of antidepressant medications. Organizations implementing an integrated care program should have capacity to offer an evidence-based psychotherapy such as PST. PST sessions can be billed by licensed providers using psychotherapy or CoCM CPT codes.
PST is the most widely used intervention to treat depression and anxiety in a primary care environment. Research shows it significantly improves patient outcomes in a wide range of settings and patient populations. PST is effective for depression among all adult populations (aged 18-100), including older adults with mild cognitive impairment.
The document below contains selected references demonstrating the efficacy of PST in primary care.
Get Certified in PST
We offer two tiers of PST training for licensed clinicians: a shorter Course in PST (Tier 1) and full PST certification (Tier 2). We encourage clinicians to pursue Tier 2: PST Certification, as skill-based practice and expert feedback are important to meeting fidelity standards. Notably, the evidence base for the effectiveness of PST has been demonstrated using clinicians at this level of clinical skill. For more information on the courses (including pricing and eligibility) click the links below, or download a detailed overview covering both PST training tiers.
A Course in PST consists of a series of online modules introducing PST principles, followed by 6 monthly group case presentation calls.
PST Certification involves online modules followed by individual simulated virtual visits, 6 monthly group case presentation calls, and in-depth expert feedback on application of clinical skills based on session audio recording review.
Become an Expert PST Trainer
Get certified as a PST Trainer, in these group training sessions participants will learn the skills needed to train others in PST.
The University of Washington AIMS Center is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education (CE) for psychologists. The AIMS Center maintains responsibility for this program and its content. APA CE credits can be used by most licensed mental health providers, including psychologists, clinical social workers, professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists. Clinicians should check their specific state requirements to confirm that credits awarded by the APA apply to them.
Participants are eligible for up to 10 CE credits (PST Tier 1) or up to 13 CE credits (PST Tier 2). To receive credits participants must attend the entire course and pass a learning evaluation.
Conflict of Interest Disclosure Information
There are no relevant financial relationships to disclose for authors or planners of this content.
The certification process provided by the AIMS Center typically requires between 19 to 22 hours of clinician time over the course of seven months and requires demonstration of mastery of the technique.
Please read through the subsequent pages in the left-hand menu for more information about Tiers 1 and 2 of training.