Series # 2

Forums and workshops -- held every two weeks -- on matters of interest to constructivists and personal construct theorists.

Time differences around the globe can be very confusing! If you are uncertain, please check your Zoom Link for each presentation. It will provide the correct time for your locality.

2021-2022 Schedule

Default times (unless negotiated otherwise):

E.g.: 8am (Pacific); 12noon (Ecuador); 12noon (USA East); 5pm (UK); 6pm (Europe); 8pm (Moscow); 9pm (UAE); 12midnight (Hong Kong); 4.00am (Sydney)

Please join the session 10 minutes before start time if possible

In case of confusion about the times, check your Zoom link for each presentation, which automatically gives the correct time in your locality.

3rd September 2021

Northern Ireland: The Frozen Conflict

Paul Barbour

Video of the session is here:

During this interactive and practical session, Paul will share his own experiences of a frozen conflict growing up during the Northern Ireland troubles. He will share how his experiences have influenced his career and research, drawing upon Kelly’s sociality corollary. Paul will challenge each of us to reflect on how we may or may not be contributing to our own and other broader frozen conflicts.

For more information on Paul’s research, see:

Barbour, P.J. and Bourne, D.J., 2020. Developing sociality in a post-conflict Northern Ireland: An application of the Perceiver Element Grid. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, pp.1-25.

17th September 2021

When “Social Skills” Meet Social Cognition: An Enactive Social Communication Intervention Framework for Neurodiverse Young People

Sandy M. Burbach

Developments in neurocognition and understanding of the relationship between social interaction and social cognition over the last 20 years have profound implications for the way we deliver social communication interventions for neurodiverse young people. In the mid- 2000s, I was concerned that resources for social communication interventions did not sufficiently account for the role that information processing plays in social cognition, despite apparently having been designed for children and young people that we knew were developmentally challenged in all those areas.

It seemed to me that we were missing something crucial about the relationship between information processing, “social skills” and the nature of social cognition. Consequently, we set about trying to design a group intervention which engaged directly with the effects of neurodiverse sensory and information processing, cognition and language development on social constructs and meaning. We were attempting to move away from social competence as a tick-list of acquired skills, towards an intervention embedded in the understanding of social cognition as participatory sense-making. I was tasked with integrating multiple theoretical perspectives, including grounded cognition, Personal Construct Psychology and Enactivism, into one coherent, concrete, intuitive and versatile approach. This presentation is a brief description of the outcome, which has been in clinical use since 2012. Harry Procter, lockdown and Taylor and Francis gave me the incentive to finally write it up.

1st October 20201

Student Presentations of Constructivist Research

Sarah Crawford-Browne, University of Cape Town:

Constructing psychological safety in a dangerous neighbourhood: Women’s expressions of continuous traumatic stress

Beyond Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain lie the communities most affected by South Africa’s past apartheid and current structural violence. These residents experience extraordinarily high levels of gang, criminal, and domestic violence. The neighbourhood under study recorded a murder rate of 143 per 100 000 people, contrasting with national and global rates of 36 and 6 per 100 000 respectively (ISS, 2018; UNODC, 2019).

This study is concerned with understanding the psychological impact of such exposure to ongoing contextual violence on adult women. Grounded in constructivist theory, the study identified participants’ shared construal of their high-violence neighbourhood and consequent adaptations. Constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014) guided semi-structured interviews with 21 adult women using the MTRII interview (Harvey, et al., 1994) and Life Events Schedule (Green, 1996), and transcript analysis.

The participants construed their neighbourhood by drawing on shared constructs of ‘anticipating danger’ and ‘mistrusting others’. Most participants adapted to their construal of the context by elaborating these constructs’ implicit poles of ‘constructing safety’ and ‘affirming decency’, with variations in elaboration leading to four patterns of adaptation. These findings raise questions regarding the role of implicit construal, awareness, and elaboration in adapting to a potentially traumatic environment.

Clare Mason, University of Hertfordshire:

The Radicalization of Political Campaigners

This study involved individuals campaigning for and against Brexit, and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. It engaged concepts linking the different theoretical perspectives of identity fusion (Swann et al., 2009) and the constructivist model of radicalization (Winter & Feixas, 2019). The study measured participants’ degree of fusion and their willingness to undertake extreme acts on behalf of the group. Construing was examined using the repertory grid technique. Similar results were found in both studies, with a high proportion of participants found to be fused and, if so, more willing to undertake extreme acts than non-fused. In both studies, opposition activists were construed more negatively and extremely than fellow activists and this was associated with an increased willingness to undertake extreme acts. Findings were consistent with the personal construct model of radicalization.

Adrià Gabarnet, University of Barcelona

Virtual-self Identity Construal in Online Video Games - A Repertory Grid Study Protocol

The Internet, and especially online videogames, seem to have a great impact on the way people construe their identity. People may use online gaming to experience an enhanced version of their self that matches more accurately the attributes they often relate to their ideal self or may even explore completely different alternative selves.

Our project aims to study the role that new technologies have in the way people build their identity nowadays. More specifically, the project intends to study how people use videogame avatars to explore different alternative identities. It could be possible for people to manifest entirely different versions of themselves through their online videogame characters. Sometimes, those alternative identities may even be a projection of what the player considers to be an ideal version of themselves.

Other variables may increase or hinder that capacity to project the ideal self on a customizable “virtual self”; some are inherent to the person, such as cognitive complexity or their level of psychological well-being, while others may be more related to the specific game they play, such as the degree of immersion experienced while playing.

The repertory grid technique will be used to explore online videogame players’ construct systems and to understand their need to explore alternative identities through their videogame characters. Other instruments will also be administrated to measure people’s experienced immersion when playing the game, the aspects of it that are more appealing to them, and their degree of subjective psychological well-being to assess how these variables, among others extracted from the repertory grid, may affect this identity exploration.

15th October 2021

Judaism and the Psy project

Craig Newnes

This presentation invites an examination of the importance of Judaism in psychological theory and practice and asks why so few clinical psychologists and counselors remain aware of the origins of modernist Psy.

29th October 20201

Working and Living with PCP in Organisations

(2-hour workshop)

Susan Bridi, Shenaz Kelly-Rawat and Fiona Duggan

PCP is a framework which has proved to be immensely useful in the context of Organisations. As we emerge out of possibly the largest collective experiment organisations have ever experienced, many are now in the process of reconstruing their purpose and meaning. We believe PCP has much to offer these organisations as they attempt to make sense of where they've come from, where they currently are and where they might like to be.

Our presentation combines three different narratives of working with PCP in organisations. For Shenaz, PCP has been the foundation of her work as an Occupational Psychologist in organisations for the last 30 years. Susan is working on how Kelly's ideas about an individual construct system might be useful to apply to other systems, such as groups and organisations. Fiona uses PCP alongside her background in architecture to explore how space can support (or hinder) organisational change.

During this 2 hour meet-up, each narrative will be followed by time for discussion and reflection. In sharing our experience of PCP in organisations, Shenaz, Fiona and Susan will each discuss:

  • Where we've come from and why we started introducing PCP to organisational work.

  • Where we are today and why we believe PCP is even more relevant to the challenges currently facing organisations.

  • Where we're moving towards in our organisational work and what PCP continues to offer.

12th November 2021

Experiences that Made You: Exploring an Experience Using a Comic Strip Approach

(2-hour Workshop)

Heather Moran

The experiences we have in childhood may validate or invalidate our construing of self. This will be a practical workshop with an introductory case example to illustrate use with a young person. You will be asked to choose an experience to explore and then to create a comic strip of a validating or invalidating experience but please don't choose something that will be traumatic to explore. You will need pen/pencil and paper and although you will be asked to draw, you do not need any artistic skills at all.

26th November 2021

Exploring Challenges In PCP – A Personal Journey

(2-hour workshop)

Jenny Newland

PCP can challenge us on many levels and has been shown to have a wide range of convenience as a framework for understanding people. Jenny will share her own experiences of using and being challenged by PCP in a range of contexts – including her professional life as a psychotherapist, encounters with maths and maths teaching and her white-water kayaking world.

She then plans to work on and discuss some of the questions that have kindly been submitted by members of the Constructivist community.

10th December 2020

Explore Your Meanings-EYME: A Digital Tool Using Virtual Reality to Explore the Construct System

Guillem Feixas

Explore Your Meanings (EYME) is a technology platform ( based on the repertory grid technique devised to capture your mental map for construing self and others. It begins with an automatized, structured interview for obtaining elements, eliciting constructs (dyadic method), and rating in a user-friendly interface. EYME provides a graphical representation of their construals in both navigable 3D and Virtual Reality (VR) that allows a guided exploration facilitating personal development and/or therapeutic change. EYME is conceived as a technology to assist professionals in exploring their clients’ sense of personal identity and to explore possible routes for development and change. Exploring clients’ personal meanings about self and others in an immersive VR environment is usually experienced by them as a powerful opportunity not only to discover who they are but also to experiment with possibilities for change, guided by a professional in the safety of the therapeutic relationship.

EYME can be a powerful tool not only for clinicians conducting psychotherapy but also for coaches, business consultants, and market researchers. In all these applications, EYME is an essential tool to increase the person’s self-knowledge, their appraisal of personal goals, and their potential for change.

7th January 2022

What’s New in Meaning Reconstruction?

Advancing Grief Theory and Practice

Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD

Viewed from a constructivist perspective, a central process in grieving is the attempt to reaffirm or reconstruct a world of meaning that has been challenged by loss. As research with bereaved young people, parents and older adults indicates, both natural and violent death losses can leave mourners struggling to process the event story of the death, to access the back story of their relationship with their deceased loved one, and to reconstruct their self-narrative in the wake of loss in ways that can be subtle or profound. In this presentation I summarize our group’s recent studies of the psychological, social and spiritual struggle to make sense of loss, outline several validated measures of meaning-making processes and outcomes, and describe current research to evaluate the impact of novel clinical methods to help people find growth through grief.

Learning objectives:

1) Summarize research supporting a meaning reconstruction model of adaptive grieving.

2) Identify four complementary measures of meaning that can be used to assess struggles in sense-making in the anticipation or aftermath of a loss

3) Describe three programs of research investigating the process and outcome of narrative constructivist models of grief therapy as well as their representative interventions.

21st January 2022

Transitions of sign mediation in early infancy: How infants acquire the

meaning of their perceptions

Mikael Leiman

“Infants share their internal states and begin to read them in others as they interact with both of their parents at the same time.

As the child sees how his mother reacts to his father, he gains insight into the meaning of his father’s behaviour, and what his father’s intention might be. (Fivaz-Depersinge & Philipp, 2014, The baby and the couple, Routledge, p 33.)”

This statement illustrates our current understanding of how infants interact with caretakers and how they, gradually, understand the meaning of their behaviour. It lacks any reference to how the meaning of the caretakers’ actions is gained.

Modern studies of early interaction are based on a representationist understanding of mental phenomena. Analysis starts with perception (e.g., face reading) and ends in observed responses. An alternative way is stated by Lev Vygotsky who claimed that mental processes arise in sign-mediated interaction between baby and caretakers. By implication, mental processes are sign-mediated.

Signs refer to their objects instead of representing them. This is the significant difference between representationist and semiotic understanding of mental phenomena. As a thought experiment, I will illustrate three early developmental transitions in speech development that are not recognised by the current research of infants’ verbal development.

4th February 2022

Working with Emotion: A Dialectical Constructivist Perspective

Leslie Greenberg

Emotion processing deficits underlie the etiology and maintenance of most mental health problems including depression, trauma, addictions, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder and anxiety. I will present a dialectical Constructivist view of change in psychotherapy based on two major transformational principles: (1) changing emotion with emotion, and (2) meaning construction by making sense of emotion.

18th February 2022

The enactive conception of agency: from sensorimotor schemes to languaging

Ezequiel Di Paolo

The enactive approach to life and mind is a branch of embodied cognitive science that has seen significant developments during the last three decades. It provides a non-reductionist naturalistic perspective on embodied minds. A central question in the enactive approach concerns the ontological and epistemological status of bodies; what they are, how they operate, how they individuate themselves, how they affect themselves, what we (also as communities of concrete bodies) can know about them. These questions relate to others such as the nature of agency, subjectivity, values, norms, and socio-historical becomings. Enactivists have worked on these issues more or less explicitly and while the question of organic individuation (autopoiesis) was one of the starting points of this research program, it has become increasingly clear that to give a proper account of the existence of concrete bodies—particularly human bodies—the ideas that worked abstractly for organic individuation must be expanded and in some cases modified. We now recognize at least three different entangled dimensions of bodily individuation and agency: organic, sensorimotor, and intersubjective. And in the human case they are radically reorganized by participation in linguistic communities. I will introduce some central enactive ideas following the question of agency as a thread that links minimal forms of life, sensorimotor ways of life, and linguistic bodies.

Video Peter Cummins Construing Money.mp4

4th March 2022

Construing Money

Peter Cummins

For some people money is central and they build their life around getting and spending money. For others it is not important… more important is their profession/art/doing nothing. Some people know to the last penny how much money they have. Others never know what they owe and what money they have. Some pay debts immediately… others at the last minute. Some like to give money away… others like to hoard it. For some money is only real when it is turned into possessions… whereas for others real money is the figure in their bank statement. What is your relationship with money? In this session we will look at our own experience of money, explore family and couple construing about money, and see if there are cross-cultural differences about the real meaning of money.

18th March 2022

Coordination and Sequencing: The Missing Aspects of Embodiment

Richard Casebow

Kelly’s PCP from a perspective of acting and embodiment offers an extraordinary rich and fertile theory for elaborating how different patterns of co-ordination evolve hierarchically within relationships and affect people’s ability to function in different contexts. While F.M. Alexander’s technique is a way of re-educating people’s co-ordination, which allows them to escape the split between mind and body and to be more present in the world and to function more effectively, John Dewey links the two being influenced by Alexander after having lessons, while being inspirational for Kelly.

In the workshop, after a theoretical introduction drawing on Kelly, Alexander, Dewey and others, we will play with the importance of sequencing and co-ordination in construing and reconstruing for optimal functioning.

29th April 2022

Luis Ángel Saúl and Alejandro Sanfeliciano

Fuzzy Cognitive Maps through Implications Grids: representation and dynamics of mental spaces. Example in subjects who want to acquire healthy habits

Using the application of the Fuzzy Logic Approach to the analysis of the repertoire of personal constructs of a subject, the Implication Grid is a key starting point for the analysis of the attribution of causality and the dynamics of system of meanings.

Using this approach, the subject's system of meanings can be projected in 3D and simulated the interrelation and evolution of the individual's system of meanings over time. This allows exploring the structure of the individual's personal meaning system, determining its inconsistencies and projecting its evolutionary dynamics.

Through this workshop we propose an innovative methodology for the study of subjectivity and the construction of the identity of the subject, the representation and mathematization of the structure and dynamics of the construction system of individuals, as well as for the study of change or the understanding of the coherence of non-change.

As an application of the use of fuzzy cognitive maps, we are going to use the evaluation of subjects who want to acquire healthy habits in their lives within a health promotion program.

We consider that a very promising line of research is presented, from which studies are necessary to confirm the usefulness of these tools and the fit between simulations and real changes.

Constructivist Meetup Organizing Committee

Paul Barbour, FXL Executive Solutions, Belfast, Ireland,

Luis Botella, Ramon Llull University, Barcelona, Spain,

Sandy Burbach, Independent Practice, Somerset, UK,

Richard Casebow, Counselling Conversations, Edinburgh, Scotland,

Chiara Centomo, Private Practice, Padua, Italy,

Jeannette Hemmecke, Johannes Kepler University, Linz, Austria,

Michael F. Mascolo, Merrimack College, USA,

Jelena Pavlovič, University of Belgrade, Serbia,

Harry Procter, University of Hertfordshire, UK,

We look forward to seeing you online!