METAFORUM SEPTEMBER 2019 - Side 85



The dialogues on the social construction of
reality have a substantial history, with many
different and sometimes opposing ideas
voiced over time. However, in my own writings
I have stressed three signifi-cant ways in which
constructionist ideas can contribution to the
field of therapy. The first is the liberation from
essentialisms.
Construction-ist
writings
challenge
the
assumption
that
our
descriptions and expla-nations of the world
function as maps or pictures. The world
doesn?t demand any particular way of talking
about it - whether scientific, po-etic or
otherwise. What we take to be truth, or
objective accounts of the world, are the the
result of negotiated agreement among people.
This is not at all to discount the idea of truth,
as these negotiated agreements hold
communities together, and in the case of
medicine or jet transportation, for example,
are matters of life and death.
In this light, while we assume that trees,
mountains, bodies, neu-rons, emotions, and
so on are essential realities, we are not
obliged to accept this inventory of essentials.
These are traditional terms for de-scribing the
world, useful for some purposes but not
others. Construc-tionist ideas invite us to take
a second look, and consider alternatives possibly valuable for other purposes. The
most obvious example in the world of therapy
is the case of diagnostic categories. From a
construc-tionist perspective there is no
?mental illness? or ?depression? in the world.
These are constructions of a particular group
of professionals, and while they are useful for
their purposes, many people suffer be-cause
they are labeled in this way.
This leads us to the second important
contribution of construc-tionism to therapists:
the invitation to innovation. If we are
liberated from the demands of traditional
reality claims, and we see that these claims
are limited, and possibly damaging in their
implications - then we are invited to generate
alternative understandings and relevant
practices. The brief therapy movement is a
good example. As argued in this case, for a
Metaforum - September 2019
85

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