Psychotherapy as making

John McLeod, Rolf Sundet*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Historically, research and practice of psychotherapy have been conducted within conceptual frameworks defined in terms of theoretical models. These models are in turn guided by meta-theories about the purpose of psychotherapy and its place in society. The image of psychotherapy that underpins much contemporary practice is a broadly scientific-medical idea of therapy as an intervention or treatment that involves the application of empirically validated procedures and theory. The present paper introduces the idea that it may be valuable to regard psychotherapy not as an intervention but instead as a process of making, in the sense of offering a cultural space for the co-construction of meaningful and satisfying ways of living that draw on shared cultural resources. We offer an overview of what a therapy of making might look like, followed by an account of theoretical perspectives, both within the psychotherapy literature and derived from wider philosophical and social science sources, that we have found valuable in terms of making sense of this way of thinking about practice. Our conclusion is that we need something in addition to theory-specific therapies that can incorporate the unexpected, the not-before-met perspective, event or practice of living and that is open towards the radically new, the not-met and unknown.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1048665
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Early online date17 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2022


  • Action language
  • Co-production
  • Hylomorphism
  • Interdisciplinary perspectives
  • Meta-theory
  • Psychotherapy
  • Training


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