PST Certification

Problem-Solving Treatment (PST)

Problem Solving Treatment (PST), also known as Problem-Solving Treatment – Primary Care (PST-PC), teaches and empowers patients to solve the here-and-now problems contributing to their depression and helps increase self-efficacy. 

Developed for use by medical professionals in primary care settings, an extensive evidence base shows that PST can effectively be provided in a wide range of settings and with a variety of providers and patient populations. 

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 before PST is applied. Subsequent appointments are 30 minutes long.

For practices implementing an evidence-based collaborative care program, the ability to provide psychotherapy as part of a treatment plan is encouraged. 

Clinician PST Training and Certification

The AIMS center provides training and certification in PST for those who are part of an integrated care team or for any clinician wishing to provide behavioral interventions. Licensed providers such as licensed social workers, registered nurses, and psychologists are eligible to receive training and to become certified in PST. Previous experience or training in mental health is not a prerequisite for PST training and certification.

The certification process typically requires between 17 to 22 hours of clinician time over the course of six months and requires demonstration of mastery of the technique. If you would like to register for training, please contact Kat James

Certification Requirements

PST training requires between 17 to 22 hours of clinician time over the course of six months (or more). Participants must be carrying a caseload as a prerequisite to participating in the training. Certification in PST requires participants to complete four training components:

  1. Didactic Component: Online Training or In-Person Workshop
  2. Phone-Based Practice Sessions
  3. Audio Recording Review
  4. Monthly Case Presentation

Didactic Component: Online Training or In-Person Workshop

The first step in PST training is to complete a didactic component, which consists of online training modules. A one (1)-hour group Q&A session will be held prior to beginning the phone-based practice sessions.

Phone-Based Practice Sessions:

After participants complete the didactic component and attend the Q&A session, they participate in one-on-one practice sessions with a PST trainer via telephone. In practice sessions, the participant role plays how to introduce PST to a patient in the first session, and then how to teach fundamental PST skills such as defining problems, setting goals, brainstorming solutions, making decisions, and setting action plans.

Phone-based practice sessions last about one hour. There is no minimum requirement for phone-based practice sessions, but participants may need between three and five practice sessions with their PST trainer before they are ready to practice PST with patients. Upon satisfactory completion of the practice sessions, a participant receives a six-month provisional certificate to practice PST with patients on their caseload. Full certification is issued upon satisfactory completion of the audio recording review and monthly case presentation components.

Audio Recording Review:

Participants can use PST with patients on their caseload immediately upon satisfactory completion of the practice sessions and award of the provisional certification in PST. After receiving provisional PST certification, participants complete the audio recording review concurrently with the monthly case presentation over the course of six months. In order to receive full certification, participants submit a minimum of two and maximum of six audio recordings of PST sessions they have conducted with actual patients. A trainer will review and score the audio recordings, and then provide individual feedback to participants on their application of PST techniques.

A passing score on at least one recorded introductory PST session and one recorded follow-up PST session must be attained to complete the audio recording review component of the training; however, a trainer may request additional recordings to ensure competency prior to certification. Participants do not need to submit the audio recording sessions in any particular order, and they do not need to be recordings of the same patient.

Participants should only submit one recording at a time. It is expected that when participants submit one recording, they will await feedback from the trainer, and apply the feedback in the next session they record. Incorporating this feedback helps participants pass the audio recording review component of the training in as few sessions as possible. 

NOTE: Before any sessions can be recorded, it is REQUIRED that participants obtain written informed consent from the patient.

Monthly Case Presentation:

Participants are required to attend six (6) monthly case presentation conference calls for each of the six months of their provisional certification. The calls are one hour each and consist of a group of 6-8 participants and a trainer. For each call, all participants will prepare a PST case to present to the group (using a case presentation template provided to them), and 2-3 will be randomly selected for discussion. All clinicians will be expected to actively participate in the call and share their experiences.