When people seek psychotherapy, they have a story to tell. It may be a troubled, hurt or angry story of a relationship, or of a life in distress. For many, it is an account of difficult life events, which work against the person’s sense of well-being, self-confidence and effectiveness.
There are many ways of responding to a client’s story, and different schools of therapy emphasise and engage differently with the presenting issues. A therapist working from a Constructivist standpoint will be informed by the philosophies and practices of Personal Construct Psychology, and other frames of thought which focus on daily living.
Perhaps the clearest hallmark of Constructivist and related schools of therapy, is the adapting of an invitational mode of enquiry, which assists clients in making sense of their experience. It is also a respectful theory, offering validation of the client’s own experiences. The therapist aims to understand the anticipations, both conscious and unconscious, which clients are using in their lives and which may be problematic for them. The therapist then works with the client(s) in a joint experiment, to develop alternative, less problematic anticipations and ways of acting.
George Kelly, founder of Personal Construct Psychology, articulated in 1965, a fundamental belief of therapists who work from a Constructivist perspective, “no one needs to be a victim of their biography”. Constructivist therapists work in a variety of settings with individuals, couples, families, organisations and wider groups.