Practice Model: Problem Solving

Perlman’s model, planned change process model, practice approach based on planned change model

This page has three sections:

  1. Background Material that provides the context for the topic

  2. A suggested Practice Approach

  3. A list of Supporting Material / References

Feedback welcome!

Background Material

Different authors look at the problem-solving model in varying ways.

Murdach (2007) suggests the principal stages of Perlman’s problem-solving model are simply:

  • problem definition,

  • problem analysis (including the generation and review of alternatives), and

  • the need for specific decision about a course of action (including methods of monitoring and evaluating the results of such action).

Chenowith and Lehmann (2008) describe a planned change process model:

Chenowith and Lehman also suggest the model outlined in the Practice Approach that follows. It consists of four phases:

  1. The engagement phase involves making contact, exploring needs and setting preliminary goals.

  2. The assessment phase involves collecting information, prioritising issues and agreeing on action.

  3. The intervention phase involves implementing and modifying strategies to achieve goals.

  4. The evaluation phase involves reviewing what has happened, celebrating progress and either concluding the work or negotiating a continued relationship.

Practice Approach

Supporting Material

(available on request)

Chenoweth, L. M. D. (2014). Road to Social Work and Human Service Practice. South Melbourne: Cengage Learning Australia. Retrieved from

Coady, N, & Lehmann, P. (2008). The problem-solving model: A framework for integrating science and art of practice. In N. Coady & P. Lehmann, Theoretical Perspectives for Direct Social Work Practice (pp. 67-86). New York: Springer Publishing Company. Retrieved from

Murdach, A. D. (2007). Helen Harris Perlman and the problem solving method. Retrieved from