Re: Kelly & others

R. A. Neimeyer, U of Memphis (neimeyerra@MSUVX1.MEMPHIS.EDU)
Thu, 28 Sep 1995 17:59:51 -0600

In response to Jon Raskin's note on Ellis's relationship to the Kelly/Beck
comparison, I have no trouble answering the question, "How are two of these
alike and different from the third?" by assigning both E & B to the
"rationalist/objectivist" end of the construct, and placing K on the
contrast pole as a "constructivist." However, other more complex
alignments are also possible. For example, in some (limited) respects, E
is justified in his claim to a kind of constructivism, insofar as he does
try to provoke a "core" philosophical change in clients that goes beyond
the empirical disputation strategies favored by more "scientific" CBTers.
Of course, in other respects he strikes me as the antithesis of a
constructivist, in his uniformity assumptions about the nature of belief
systems, his "instructive interaction" with clients, his failure to
consider a "credulous approach," etc, etc.

The upshot for me is that the constructivism vs. objectivism dimension (1)
is not sufficient in itself to characterize a given school of therapy,
which must be "fleshed out" in terms of other dimensions as well, and (2)
is better used as a yardstick (meter stick, for non-American colleagues) to
measure developments within a particular school of therapy, than as a means
of assigning whole schools of therapy to one pole or the other on a
pre-emptive (or constellatory) basis. For example, it is quite possible to
detect non-constructivist strains in even an ardent constructivist like
Kelly, something a deconstructionist would take great satisfaction in

What I'd really like to see is more process/outcome research on these three
styles of therapy that would illuminate their meaningful differences where
the "rubber meets the road" in actual sessions. Some preliminary but
provocative forrays in this direction have recently appeared in the Journal
of Constructivist Psychology, as in the piece by Vincent & LeBow in 8, 2.

Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152
(901) 678-4680
FAX (901) 678-2579