These therapies are based on the assumption that our world is not just given to us complete, but that we construct our individual picture of it from our own experiences. Then, what we do, what we believe, what we feel is largely dictated by this picture, or model. For a person badly treated, the world may be seen as cruel or unreliable, whereas for one well treated, it may appear a good place. We are constantly modifying our models in the light of experience.

The first task in therapy is to help the client clarify the models they use, consciously or not, to represent the world to themselves. They will need to explore and try out different ways of constructing their model and living within it, with no suggestion that any particular model is the ‘correct’ one. Changes may come in a small way via different behaviour, or more extensively via revision of values, beliefs and identity.

These therapies often have a specific focus, and expect to effect positive changes in the short term, as well as dealing with the underlying issues, which may require longer term therapy. The setting may be one-to-one or in a group. A wide range of methods is used, imaginatively tailored to the individual, who is involved at every stage. The process, depending on mutual respect between therapist and client, is designed to enable the client to take better charge of their life.