Constructivism is compelling thinkers across disciplines to consider some of our most deeply held but perhaps limiting beliefs about human nature and the nature of change. Constructivism in Psychotherapy provides a broad introduction to the principles of constructivist theory (and a helpful glossary for newcomers) as well as an in-depth exploration of constructivist practice involving a wide range of clinical problems encountered in day-to-day practice.

Offering perspectives that encompass diversity and rapid social change while acknowledging the primacy of meaning, language, self-agency, and novel experience in response to such changes, the book presents a refreshing blend of high-level theory and experientially grounded practice. An international panel of established leaders as well as new voices in this emerging field offer compelling metaphors for self, science, and psychotherapy. Therapy as a problem-dissolving system, therapy as rebiography and narrative reconstruction, and therapy as a laboratory for personal experiments are a few of the metaphors explored.

Practical methods of working within these metaphors free practitioners to conceive of their work in new ways while continuing to practice in ways that have always served them well. For example, ideas from the groundbreaking chapter on termination can be easily integrated into the practice of cognitive–behavioral, humanistic, and systems-oriented therapists, to name just a few. As the population of elderly persons grows, many of many of these individuals will be more open to psychotherapy than those of previous generations. The creative views of this stage of life offered in Constructivism in Psychotherapy will be of interest to all who practice with clients across the life cycle.

The first comprehensive book on constructivist psychotherapy, this volume invites practitioners and other behavioral theorists to consider their work, their clients, and their profession in ways that will compel, surprise, and perhaps unsettle them—sure signs that the book provides the kind of "novel experience" that leads to constructive change.

Table of Contents



  1. An Invitation to Constructivist Psychotherapies
    —Robert A. Neimeyer

I. Historical and Conceptual Foundations

  1. Constructivist Psychotherapies: Features, Foundations, and Future Directions
    —Robert A. Neimeyer
  2. Continuing Evolution of the Cognitive Sciences and Psychotherapies
    —Michael J. Mahoney
  3. Forms and Facets of Constructivist Psychology
    —William J. Lyddon
  4. Constructivist Psychotherapy: A Theoretical Framework
    —Vittorio F. Guidano

II. Personal Change and Reconstruction

  1. The Challenge of Change
    —Greg J. Neimeyer
  2. Meaning-Making and Creative Aging
    —Mary Baird Carlsen
  3. Self-Observation in Constructivist Psychotherapy
    —Vittorio F. Guidano
  4. A Dialectical Constructivist Approach to Experiential Change
    —Leslie Greenberg and Juan Pascual-Leone

III. The Narrative Turn

  1. Hermeneutics, Constructivism, and Cognitive–Behavioral Therapies: From the Object to the Project
    —Óscar F. Gonçalves
  2. Client-Generated Narratives in Psychotherapy
    —Robert A. Neimeyer
  3. From Assessment to Change: The Personal Meaning of Clinical Problems in the Context of the Self-Narrative
    —Hubert J. M. Hermans

IV. Social Systemic Perspectives

  1. Radical Constructivism: Questions and Answers
    —Jay S. Efran and Robert L. Fauber
  2. Personal Constructs in Systemic Practice
    —Guillem Feixas
  3. Termination as a Rite of Passage: Questioning Strategies for a Therapy of Inclusion
    —David Epston and Michael White

V. The Challenge of Constructivist Psychotherapy

  1. Optimal Therapeutic Distance: A Therapist's Experience of Personal Construct Psychotherapy
    —Larry M. Leitner
  2. Construing on the Edge: Clinical Mythology in Working With Borderline Processes
    —Stephanie L. Harter
  3. The Psychological Demands of Being a Constructive Psychotherapist
    —Michael J. Mahoney


Author Index

Subject Index

About the Editors

Editor Bios

Robert A. Neimeyer is a professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, Tennessee. Since completing his doctoral training at the University of Nebraska in 1982, he has drawn on concepts and methods in personal construct theory and related constructivist approaches to personality and psychotherapy in the majority of his research. He has published 12 books, including The Development of Personal Construct Psychology (University of Nebraska Press, 1985), Casebook in Personal Construct Therapy (Springer, 1987), and Advances in Personal Construct Theory (Vols. 1–3; JAI Press, 1990, 1992, 1995). The author of over 150 articles and book chapters, he is currently attempting to refine methods for constructivist assessment, to develop a constructivist basis for psychotherapy integration, and to pursue empirical research on such topics as depression and suicide and the outcome of cognitive therapy. Neimeyer is coeditor, with Greg J. Neimeyer, of the Journal of Constructivist Psychology, and he serves on the editorial boards of a number of other journals. In recognition of his scholarly contributions, he was granted the Distinguished Research Award by Memphis State University in 1990.

Michael J. Mahoney is currently a professor of psychology at the University of North Texas, Denton. After earning his doctorate at Stanford University in 1972, he accepted faculty appointments at Pennsylvania State University and the University of California—Santa Barbara, before moving to North Texas in 1990. As a pioneering contributor to the development of cognitive-behavioral therapies, Mahoney has published over 200 articles on such topics as the psychology of science and, particularly, on psychotherapy theory and research. His current scholarly work focuses on constructive-developmental psychotherapies, as well as on broadly constructivist trends in neuroscience, philosophy of mind, and artificial intelligence. His books include Scientist as Subject (Health Science Systems, 1976), Psychotherapy Process (Plenum, 1980), Cognition in Psychotherapy (Basic Books, 1985), Human Change Processes (Basic Books, 1991), and Cognitive and Constructivist Therapies: Recent Developments (Springer, 1994). Mahoney was the founding editor of Cognitive Therapy and Research and has received numerous scholarly awards for his distinguished contributions to the profession.