Research

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I study psychology and counseling from a constructivist perspective–most often using George Kelly’s personal construct theory and Ernst von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism, but also incorporating aspects of social constructionism, narrative therapy, solution-focused therapy, and other constructivist approaches. My specific research interests include:

  1. Constructivist approaches to counseling and psychotherapy: I have written a number of articles and chapters exploring various constructivist approaches to counseling and psychotherapy. Along these lines, I co-edited (with Sara K. BridgesStudies in Meaning 3: Constructivist Psychotherapy in the Real World.
  2. Essences in psychology: In 2011, I published a paper in the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology that provides a constructivist perspective on whether psychologists can uncover human essences. I propose that seeing essentializing as a constructive human activity is preferable to thinking about essences as causal foundations of a static world.
  3. Evolutionary constructivism: I am interested in using constructivist ideas and Donald Campbell’s selection theory (also known as evolutionary epistemology) to theorize about how human knowledge evolves over time and is both influence on and influenced by biological and social factors. I have looked at evolutionary constructivism generally and in relation to a humanistic perspective.
  4. Social justice counseling: My chapter in Studies in Meaning 4: Constructivist Perspectives on Theory, Practice, and Social Justice constitutes a constructivist discussion of problems that can result from well-meaning efforts to incorporate a social justice perspective into counseling. A forthcoming chapter in the Praeger Handbook of Social Justice and Psychology (Vol. 1) further examines pitfalls to be avoided when adopting a social justice orientation toward psychology and counseling.
  5. Stigma and the golden section: I have worked on several empirical studies examining whether people use a “reverse golden section” when evaluating stigmatized identities. The golden section is a rating pattern by which people assign unfamiliar others to the positive poles of construct dimensions roughly 62% of the time and the negative poles the remaining 38% of the time. The reverse golden section studies my students and I have done suggest this pattern inverts when rating stigmatized others; we have completed studies on this examining homeless and mentally ill persons and elderly. A forthcoming study examines whether the reverse golden section holds for mental health practitioners attitudes toward the homeless and mentally ill.
  6. Constructivist theory integration: I have worked to explicate and integrate the numerous theories typically identified as constructivist (most notably personal construct theory, radical constructivism, and social constructionism).
  7. Constructions of disorder: I have published several articles and co-edited a book (with Robert A. Neimeyer) using constructivist ideas to critique and develop alternatives to medical model approaches to psychological diagnosis.
  8. Constructions of sexuality: I have collaborated with my doctoral adviser, Franz Epting, and with graduate student Laurie Morano on personal construct examinations of sexuality–specifically the ways in which “homosexual vs. heterosexual” can be viewed as a construct dimension.
  9. DSM Diagnosis and Alternatives: I recently submitted a coauthored manuscript for publication that presents the results of a survey examining psychologist and counselor attitudes toward the DSM and possible alternatives to it.

See my Academia.edu site
academia.edu

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