Presentation Title

Constructivist Psychotherapy: Coherent Constructions and Change


Constructivist psychotherapy is designed to pay close attention to individual constructions of reality and how these constructs continue to work (or not work) in current life situations. Coherence therapy, formerly known as depth oriented brief therapy (DOBT), furthers constructivist therapeutic theory by aiming for the retrieval and transformation of unconscious, compelling, coherent personal constructs generating problematic moods, thoughts or behaviors. Coherence therapists are careful not to make interpretations of the underlying emotional truth or meanings that necessitate a client’s current trouble. Rather, they use experiential methods to help clients to uncover and encounter directly how their troubles are coherently necessary. The client’s direct experience of the symptom or problem as an expression of deeply meaningful personal themes and constructions dispels his or her previous, self-pathologizing construals, wherein the symptom indicates a defect of self. In this way, coherence therapists humanize the client’s problem situations. and look for the client’s “pro-symptom position(s)” by directing attention to the personal constructs that support the presence of the symptom, rather than by attending to the many possible ways of counteracting the identified problem, as many therapies recommend. In this way, the cessation of a difficulty or symptom occurs as a direct result of the client’s revision of the unconscious constructs that had been producing the symptom. In sharp contrast, counteractive therapies seek symptom reduction by building up new, desired constructs that are pitted against the unconscious, symptom-generating ones. An increase of psychic conflict is therefore the price of symptom reduction in such approaches—which, we suggest, is at odds with humanistic principles and constructivist therapeutic approaches. This presentation will cover the constructivist tenants of coherence therapy and offer examples of humanizing change.