This approach comes from the field of narrative therapy. The idea is to separate the problem from the person, making the clear distinction that the problem is not the same thing as the person. By naming the problem those involved can discuss the problem in a way that makes it clear that what is said is only about the problem, and is not about the whole person.

For example, if a conflict is about a person's specific behaviour, the problem is stated in terms of the specific behaviour and a name is given to it. The dialogue can focus on the named behaviour and everyone can express their experience of it, how they feel about it, its impact on them and what might be done about it. It makes talking about the problem easier and is not seen as an attack on the person.

There is one caveat to this. In situations where a person is responsible for the problem, such as their behaviour, this approach does not absolve them of responsibility for the named problem.