Constructivism in Psychology and Psychotherapy

Constructivism is a theory that assumes that humans are the meaning makers in their lives and basically constructs their own reality. Among the various psychological treatment methods that belong to the umbrella of constructivism, the client is seen as an active participant who creates and determines his or her own life path. Constructive thinking is different from other forms of modern theory, which treat reality as fixed and discovered by the client. On the contrary, in constructivism, reality is something created.

Constructive therapy

Constructive therapy provides a shift in perspective, from the traditional focus of psychology on what a particular client has problems with, to paying more attention to someone’s strengths. It is more optimistic and pays attention to customers’ resources, goals, hopes and dreams. Compared with their history or childhood, people are more concerned about where people want to go in their lives. Customers are seen as proactive reality creators.

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How does a person make meaning?

In constructivist theory, meaning is not necessarily created by an individual, but a social relationship with another person. It “sets a series of evolving meanings that continue to emerge from the interactions between people. These meanings are not limited by the skull and may not exist in what we might think of as personal’thoughts’.” Therefore, reality is socially constructed. This theory is similar to the theory proposed in a frontier field called interpersonal neurobiology, which treats human identities as more relevant than individuals. In other words, we are ourselves, just like our relationship with another person.

Constructive therapist

The role of the constructive therapist in psychotherapy is different from the classic “doctor” role. In this role, the therapist should “cure” or “treat” the patient. Although the therapist has skills and important expertise in facilitating and directing meetings, constructive therapists are not considered objective experts. In constructivism, everyone has a deep understanding of subjectivity, including therapists. Therefore, the therapist and client are seen as collaborative participants because they create meaning together and help the client create his or her best reality as they move forward together.

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Constructive therapists agree with the belief that society constructs reality and regard their work with clients as constructing meaning through dialogue.

The therapist focuses on the client’s strengths, not on searching for diseases or defects, but on resources. They focus on the future and are both hopeful and optimistic about their ability to make positive changes to their customers.

A form of treatment that belongs to the umbrella of constructivism

Solution-focused brief treatment (SFBT) is a brief form of treatment that has been used for various people, families, and problems. As with many constructivist therapies, the focus is on the client’s strengths and the solutions they may already have available. Focusing on the things that have worked, instead of focusing on the wrong things, will result in more solutions.

Emotional Focus Therapy (EFT) is mainly used for couples to deepen, enrich and save the relationship. Although EFT is a constructive umbrella, it is also a method mainly based on attachment theory, which emphasizes the importance of establishing safe and reliable emotional bonds with others.

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Narrative therapy has been used in children, families and adults. Narrative therapy provides clients with the opportunity to take control of their lives through their own stories. Narrative therapists help bring the client’s preferred reality and enable them to radically recreate their lives.

The constructivism of mental health offers great hope and optimism. With a trustworthy constructivist therapist, he can subtly promote life-changing conversations, and new possibilities and opportunities appear in the client’s life.