Working with stuckness in psychotherapy: bringing together the bricoleur model and pluralistic practices

John McLeod, Rolf Sundet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The chapter takes the experiences of being stuck, of lack of change and detrimental development of persons in psychotherapy as its start point. The aim of the chapter is to connect these experiences to the work of Jan Smedslund and show how his ideas not only offer a perspective for addressing such events but also provide a gateway into the work of other theorists who have similarly contributed to the development of an alternative critical standpoint in relation to professional knowledge and practice. The position being offered does draw on the experience of the authors and their engagement with stuckness. Informed by pluralism the practices highlight how to respond to stuckness, lack of change, and evidence of not being on track. Bringing together the work of Smedslund and pluralistic practice, perspectives on the use of theory and research in practice is developed. Central is Smedslund’s critique of generalized knowledge and its lack of focus on individual uniqueness. A relationship between the bricoleur model and pluralistic practices is established, grounded in a re-conceptualisation of how therapeutic change takes place, away from “interventions” and instead seeing what therapists do as “invitation to respond”. The chapter connects these ideas to other authors that can help us expand alternative knowledge of psychotherapy in line with the bricoleur model of Jan Smedslund and pluralistic practice. Lastly, the chapter underlines the importance of everyday language and cultural experience, and the value of engaging clients in a process of collaborative inquiry concerning relevant aspects of their everyday lives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRespect for thought
Subtitle of host publicationJan Smedslund's legacy for psychology
EditorsTobias G. Lindstad, Erik Stänicke, Jaan Valsiner
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783030430665
ISBN (Print)9783030430658
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2020

Publication series

NameTheory and History in the Human and Social Sciences (THHSS)
ISSN (Print)2523-8663
ISSN (Electronic)2523-8671


  • Psychotherapy
  • Stuckness
  • Pluralism
  • Bricoleur model
  • Research
  • Theory
  • Uniqueness
  • Irreplacability


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