A major focus of social constructionism is to uncover the ways in which individuals and groups participate in the creation of their perceived social reality. It involves looking at the ways social phenome are created, institutionalized, and made into traditions by humans. Socially constructed reality is seen as an ongoing, dynamic process in which reality is reproduced by people acting on their own interpretation and their own knowledge of it. By putting the value on culturally and personal renditions of reality, a therapist could easily apply this approach for culturally diverse clients.
A challenge of culturally diverse clients is they often experience an expectation that they should conform their lives to the truths and realities of a more dominant society in which they are engulfed (Corey, 2013). Social constructionism exhibits an emphasis on multiple realities and truths that are a product of social construction. This view enhances the use of social constructionism in culturally diverse groups. Social constructionism approach views people as competent and trusted to use their resources to make better life decisions.
This approach does not dwell on what may be wrong with the client but simply focuses on a solution for the client to remove themselves from a rut, per say. People are not defined by a specific problem nor labeled or identified by a disorder (Corey, 2013). For example words such as “depression” do not refer to a thing-like illness in a thing-like part of a thing-like mind. The word “depression” refers to all the social processes that have occurred for that person in their interactions with others through the years.
What is called “depression” is an intersubjective and historical process, including interpretation and active conscious choice, as well as more habitual and automatic, unconscious and out-of-awareness choices and assumptions. These, together with the influence and actions of others, lead clients to call themselves depressed. Social constructionism can also be a useful framework for counseling. It represents the development of ideas in counseling that are influenced by the humanistic tradition. It holds that individuals construct their own realities and offers therapists alternative ways of understanding these experiences/realities.
Within therapy, clients are urged to reframe or reconstruct their negative or distorted realities into a more positive or enlightening reality in which they would prefer it to be. For instance, a therapist could prompt a client to rewrite their book or chapter within their book with the book being a representation of their life. This reframing helps the clients to ascribe alternative yet equally valid meanings to certain situations initiating more enact and affective problem solving skills (Rudes & Guterman, 2007). Weaknesses
One downfall of social constructionism is the not-knowing stance that the therapist assumes, along with the client put forth on the expert level (Corey, 2013). Individuals that reach out for some form of therapy tend to view the therapist as an all knowing expert. Some individuals have realized that they no longer have the resources nor the ability to move forth with a self-evaluating or self-counseling within their frame and do not trust that they are competent and capable to regain control and move their distress to a more acceptable normalized view of functioning.
By attending therapy and the therapist encouraging the client-as-expert mentality, a client could be overwhelmed with anxiety and low level of self competence to continue with the therapy process. Also, a client that is made to attend counseling for some reason, may exhibit that they believe nothing is wrong to have to be a part of therapy. With the client taking this position and remaining an expert, could result in no attainable knowledge or desire to complete therapy with the intentions of changing for the better or making better life hoices.
Social constructionism hold that each person is unique and their realities are a product of their own socially constructed lives. People can live through the exact experiences or lifestyles and end up holding non-identical truths or realities from those experiences. This leads to the assumption that there is not a set reality of any kind and for any person. Research then becomes pointless because not any amount of research could unearth any truth about reality (Cruickshank, 2011).
This leads to a nonsystematic approach for helping clients to resolve the struggles that they currently face. It also leads to an empirical evidence breakdown within the psychology therapy fields. If research cannot discover any truths because truths do not really exist. there would be no point of having any kind of evidence to use in application of this theory. This theory does not really have a systematic approach leaving grey areas and thin lines that could be crossed.
The cultures to which we belong supply readymade ethnocentric assumptions which any person uses to get around within this world. The problem to overcome understanding others is one’s accounting of their own ethnocentricity and perspective. Ethnocentricity can be defined as cultural bias where one’s own culture is believed to have the only true understanding of the world implying all other views are incorrect or insufficient. An uncritical prejudice exists in favor of a person’s own culture which produces biased views which predominate all other possibilities.
In order to attempt to see the reality of the phenomena at hand it is necessary not to impose one’s own categories or assumptions on the client. Between self and others, our culture and theirs, lies all of the human understanding as well as all of the human misunderstanding. Conclusion Social constructionism brings forth an alternative assumption regarding reality construction and the way knowledge is gained. Its concern is in ways of attainable knowledge is embedded in cultural values and humanistic traditions.
Realities are socially onstructed via the interaction of people within their social context (Galbin, 2014). Therefore there are not any set or guided realities for a person or group, there is only the reality that a person has constructed for themselves through social mingling, cultural values, and life experiences. Reality is merely an interpretation that varies between individuals. Social constructionism does not focus nor is it concerned with what constitutes evidence. After all, there are not any set truths to be uncovered or confirmed as the word evidence indicates.
There is only an individualistic truth that allows methodology to become about interpretation, multiplicity, context, depth, and knowledge within personal, cultural, and societal concepts (Ramey & Grubb, 2009). This enhances this psychological theory in broad terms with uncertain grey areas. Misinterpretation of certain cues from the client or no prior knowledge within a certain culture or some societal concepts, could result in the therapist accidently imposing views on their clients. Of course this leads to an ethical challenge between the therapist and their work to be beneficial for the client’s well-being.