A Constructionist Clinical Psychology for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy  book cover
1st Edition

A Constructionist Clinical Psychology for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

ISBN 9780415855426
Published February 13, 2015 by Routledge
260 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Most clinical psychologists and cognitive behaviour therapists adopt a perspective which assumes that a client's distress arises from inaccurate perceptions of the external world and that these perceptions are due to the problematic filtering of information about the external world through internal perceptual biases and schemas. A Constructionist Clinical Psychology for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy provides a timely and innovative critique of the dominant trends in CBT theory and practice. It applies a constructionist framework to treatment and offers a constructionist philosophy and methodology to complement existing clinical approaches in cognitive behaviour therapy. 

Kieron O'Connor presents a much needed alternative constructionist framework (addressing both individual and social constructionist ideas) which is laid out in a clear fashion for the clinician. He shows how the framework can be integrated into practice and offers an alternative to viewing psychopathology as an isolated problem which focuses on pathology as a response to internal or external events. He reveals how the new constructionist framework can encourage clinicians to look at the client centred context which creates psychopathology and explore areas and experiences not easily accessible to traditional cognitive behaviour approaches, but which are rendered understandable through a constructionist approach to experience.

Using extensive case studies, A Constructionist Clinical Psychology for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy provides a constructionist framework approach which complements existing CBT approaches and shines new light on questions as to why some techniques work and others do not. With new tools for case formulation and evaluation, and trainee exercises for beginners, the book will appeal to clinical psychologists, clinical researchers, psychotherapists and other health and mental health professionals


Table of Contents

Why Phenomenology? Constructionist Evaluation: Part One. Constructionist Evaluation: Part Two. Lived-in Imaginations. Dissociative States. Narrative Construction. Deconstructing Anxiety/Distress. The Body as Construct. Constructionist Approach to Clinical Psychology Research. Teaching Phenomenology.

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Kieron O’Connor is Director of the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) Spectrum Study Centre in Montreal at the University Institute of Mental Health at Montreal, and Full Professor at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Montreal, Canada. He is an associate fellow of the BPS and fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association. He is author or co-author of over 200 publications and 12 books.


"Increasingly practitioners and researchers within clinical psychology are being influenced by a wider range of philosophical traditions than historically. In this book, Kieron O’Connor outlines a ‘constructionist-phenomenological’ approach, drawing additional insights from dialogical and narrative research. It provides a useful corrective to more reductionist approaches and will be of interest to both trainee and more experienced practitioners." - David Harper, PhD, Reader in Clinical Psychology, Programme Director (Academic), Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, University of East London

"Kieron O’Connor’s Constructionist Clinical Psychology is a masterpiece. It offers a radically new way of understanding and treating psychological problems. It will be of interest to clinical psychologists in training and to experienced clinicians and researchers." - Alan Carr, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University College Dublin

"O’Connor has succeeded in the improbable task of applying the ideas of phenomenology, existentialism, and constructionism to the practical realities of assessment and psychological therapy. Gradually, sequentially, and logically, he convinces the reader of their relevance while at the same time providing numerous illustrations and integrating his themes with mainstream empirical research. This book makes a major contribution to a paradigm shift within clinical psychology." - Richard Hallam, Visiting professor of psychology, University of Greenwich

"This is a very interesting and original book that looks at many issues in clinical psychology and CBT, and rethinks these using both phenomenology and constructionist ideas. For many years O’Connor and his associates have been writing some of the most original articles and books on OCD and anxiety: in particular they have looked at how narratives of doubt can unpick everyday certainties, and how the themes of OCD often relate to fundamental concerns of the person. Here they extent such ideas suggesting that pathologies arise out of history, context, imagination, and that, in general, experience is constructed in a multitude of contexts and processes. Following phenomenology, they take it as assumed that human life and consciousness is characterized by meaning and intentionality.  

One chapter underlines the importance of imagination and its role in our everyday lives and how it can develop difficulties for the person. Other chapters look at how basic phenomenology can be taught and how both phenomenology and constructionism might influence our thinking on research methodologies. I think this book is an important resource to those who wish to use CBT, yet are frustrated by its traditional reliance on behaviourist stimulus response thinking, or mechanistic ideas of information processing. This book puts human experience in all its complexity at the core of its conceptualizations. Few writers have managed to bring constructionist and phenomenological thinking into one overarching model and have at the same time managed to rethink theoretical and practical areas in clinical psychology." - John Rhodes

"If, like me, you are concerned that the approach recommended in treatment guidelines for most psychological problems, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), is still too often essentially mechanistic, reductionist, and realist, and pays insufficient attention to social context, you may be excited to find a book that promises a more person-centered CBT. Being based on phenomenological and constructionist concepts, the alternative approach to CBT offered by Kieron P. O'Connor focuses on personal meaning and social constructions... This is a book which is wide-ranging and ambitious in its scope, encompassing philosophy, alternative views ofpsychopathology, clinical practice, research methods, and teaching exercises." - David A. Winter, University of Hertfordshire, UK, PsycCRITIQUES