What is Constructivism and how is it used in therapy?

What is Constructivism and how is it used in therapy?

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Constructivism is a learning theory that has its roots in philosophy and psychology.. The essential core of constructivism is that students actively build their own knowledge and the meaning of their experiences.


  • 1 Principles of constructivism
  • 2 Constructivism and knowledge creation
  • 3 Constructive Therapies
  • 4 Constructivist therapists
  • 5 Types of Constructivist Therapy

Principles of Constructivism

It is based on the concept that reality cannot exist separate from experience, and that can only be known through experience, resulting in a unique personal reality. The philosopher and theorist of radical constructivism, Ernst von Glaserfeld (1984, 1990) proposes three essential epistemological principles of constructivism to which a fourth has been added recently.

  1. Knowledge does not accumulate passively, but is the result of active cognition of the individual;
  2. Cognition is an adaptive process that works to make an individual's behavior more viable in a particular environment;
  3. Cognition organizes and gives meaning to the experience of each one, it is not a process that makes an accurate representation of reality;
  4. Knowledge has roots both in biological / neurological construction, and in social interaction, which is generated on the cultural and language basis.

Constructivism and knowledge creation

Thus, constructivism recognizes the active role of the individual in the creation of personal knowledge, the importance of experience (individual and social) in this process and its understanding and these four fundamental principles are the basis of the basic principles of teaching and learning

According to constructivism human beings are responsible for the meaning they give to their lives and, essentially, they build their own realities. For this reason in the various psychotherapeutic approaches that fall under the umbrella of constructivism, the client is seen as an active participant who creates and determines his own path in life. Constructive thinking thus differs from other theories that see reality as something fixed that must be discovered by customers.

On the contrary, in constructivism, reality is something that is created.

Constructive Therapies

Constructive therapies offer a perspective that differs from the traditional approach of psychology about what is wrong with a client, paying greater attention to the person's strengths. It is more optimistic and Work on client resources, goals, hopes and dreams. It focuses primarily on the goals or objectives you want to reach in your life, rather than in your history or childhood. The customer is seen as a proactive creator.

The constructivist therapists

The therapist's role in constructive psychotherapy is very different from the classic "doctor" function in which the therapist is supposed to "cure" or "treat" a patient.

Here the therapist offers skills for facilitation and client orientation, which is why the constructive therapist is not seen as an "expert." The therapist and the client are seen as collaborative participants, as they create meaning together, making it easier for the client to create a better reality and moving forward together.

The constructive therapist subscribes to the belief in a socially constructed reality and sees his work with a client as a co-construction of meaning together through the conversation. The therapist focuses on the strengths of a client, and not on illnesses or deficiencies, emphasizing resources. It focuses on the future that is both hopeful and optimistic about the customer's ability to make positive changes.

Types of Constructivist Therapy

Brief Solution-Centered Therapy: It is a form of brief therapy that is used with all kinds of people, families and problems.

The emphasis, as with many of the constructivist therapies, is on the strengths and solutions available to clients. The focus is not on what is wrong, but on the result.

Emotion Centered Therapy: This therapy is mainly used in couples to help them deepen, enrich and save their relationship. His approach not only falls under the umbrella of constructivism, but also relies heavily on the attachment theory, which emphasizes the importance of a strong and secure emotional bond with the other.

Narrative Therapy: It is used with children, families and adults. Narrative Therapy offers clients the opportunity to dominate their lives through the stories they tell themselves. The therapeutic narrative helps to bring out the clients' preferred realities and allows them to rewrite their lives in some way.

Constructivism in mental health offers a great deal of hope and optimism. The constructivist therapist facilitates the ability to change life through conversations, building trust, new possibilities and opportunities in the lives of clients.


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