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In This Issue
Brief Encounters - Social Construction and Everyday Life
Beyond the Therapeutic State
New MSc program in Relational Leading
Taos Workshops
Friends of Taos Workshops
Free Download Books
Civic Speaker Series Project
Visual Resources
Relational Leading
Masters program in
Relational Leading
to begin Fall  2014.

More information coming soon.

relationships and conversations that make a difference

Issue 4 - Available Now
July 2013


Taos Institute Publications
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U & Me - Communicating in Moments that Matter
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Relational Leading
When Stories Clash: Addressing Conflict with Narrative Mediation
The Appreciative Organization

Social Construction: Entering the Dialogue

Healing Conversations Now: Enhance Relationships with Elders and Dying Loved Ones

Positive Family Dynamics: Appreciative Inquiry Questions for Bringing Out the Best in Families

DVD - Fusion of Strength: An Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry by David Cooperrider
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AI Practitioner - Special Video Issue - A Must-Have for AI Practitioners
Practicing Relational Ethics in Organizations
Developing Relational Leadership
Retiring but not Shy
Retiring But Not Shy
Ordinary Life Therapy
Hedtke - Bereavement
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Ideas, News and Resources
February 2014  
We hope you enjoy receiving our newsletter which includes constructionist ideas and practices as well as news and resources from the Taos Institute.
Brief Encounters from the Taos Institute

As a way of sharing constructionist ideas, the Executive Board of the Taos Institute shares each month an idea or experience that might be an inspiration for you and others. 


This month Mary Gegen shares thoughts on..... 


Social Construction and Everyday Life 


By Dr. Mary Gergen  

Sometimes it is a challenge to converse with folks who are curious about social constructionism, but skeptical as to what it might mean for them personally. Often people say, "Academic people have fun tossing around philosophical terms like that, but what can you say that will help us get on with real life, face real problems, and look for real solutions?" When I toss my metaphorical mortarboard in the trash, and confront these questions my immediate response is "everything". Let me just mention two important consequences. The first is to call attention to the ways in which the language we use creates the world we are in. If one says to a spouse "I am totally fed up with the way you criticize me," one is labeling him/her as a villain of sorts, and an argument might well ensue. However, if you say, "I'm feeling pretty disappointed in you" a different reality is constructed, even though a tense conversation might still result. But if you say, "It really hurts me when you say things like that, and I think it's destructive to our relationship as well," chances are that with this construction a more positive dialogue will occur. The words we use to describe an event, person, place, or possibility have the effect of creating it, and the actions that are likely to follow. In every moment we can select from a panoply of possibilities.

        When we take a social constructionist position, we recognize that there are many ways of perceiving, analyzing, and interpreting the world. Each one carries values and action potentials, and eliminates others. The "world" does not tell us what "words" we must use. The only limits derive from cultural traditions, and these are multiple and mutable. I am not speaking only of words here; tones, gestures, posture, facial expressions all contribute to the construction of what may become a shared reality. In taking a constructionist position we can avoid the dead-ends of life, where there may be nothing but conflict, frustration, and despair ahead of us. I still "burn" when I recall a young woman working for a pharmaceutical company who said, "Face it, everyone over 60 is a patient." Being given permission to see things another way is the liberatory gift that constructionism gives us.

        Recently a young entrepreneur from the Philippines was discussing how he managed to persist despite the natural disasters that had destroyed much of the area where he lived. He said that where others saw only loss and destruction, he saw tremendous opportunities. So much devastation left room for so much development. This young man intuitively had a constructionist bent that will serve him well as he engages in the redesign of his homeland. His capacity to re-construct reminds us that constructionist ideas give us the gift of creating new and amazing realities, ones that are filled with the promise of a more fulfilling future than we might otherwise have known.  


Early Bird Registration through March 1st .....Register now.....
June 26, 27, 28, 2014
Drammen, Norway

Mental health costs are soaring, drug prescriptions skyrocketing, and diagnostic categories continue to convince us that we are mentally ill. It is time to move beyond the therapeutic state!

Most existing alternatives focus on the individual. In contrast, this conference will feature inspiring innovations in collaborative practice. Such practices bring together diverse conceptions of reality, values, and hopes for the future. From the inter-change emerge new forms of life, viable for all.

The conference will feature collaborative practices relevant to therapy and beyond. Discussions will be enriched by practitioners and scholars from many sectors of society.

In the end, it is toward a relationally oriented society we must move. And it is toward active participation in changing both practices and policies that the conference is dedicated.

Conference collaborators:
  • The Taos Institute
  • Taos Institute Europe
  • Institute for Research in Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Buskerud, University College (Norway)
  • Helsinki Psychotherapy Institute (Finland)
  • Familjev�rdsstiftelsen (Family Care Foundation) (Sweden)
  • The Family Institute (UK)

Keynote Presenters:
  • Kenneth J. Gergen
  • Robert Whitaker
  • Olga Runciman
  • Sami Timimi
  • Carina Hakansson


For information and to register at the Early Bird rates:  www.taosinstitute.net/beyond-the-therapeutic-state   

Share the News......

This new program is a 2-year, online learning program designed to deepen the theory and practice of relational leading through course content and teaching practices.

This program introduces ideas and practices at the forefront of organizational studies, and integrates workplace experience into class discussions. The courses focus on:

  • The social construction of realities, values, and reason
  • Systemic and relational process
  • Collaborative practices in the workplace and society
  • Relational and appreciative leading
  • Relevant research practices

The courses prepare participants to work with faculty members in conducting original research relevant to their professional development.


If you or anyone you know might be interested in learning more about this program visit: www.taosinstitute.net/relational-leading-program 

The Taos Institute Workshop Series
  • Social Construction: Premises and Practices - an online workshop | April 21-May 26 - with Celiane Borges-Camargo and Dawn Dole.  
  • Social Construction, Relational Theory and Change Practices | June 6-8 -  with Ken and Mary Gergen, Wallingford, PA.  
  • Social Constructionist Inquiry and Research Practices | June 12-14 - with Sally St. George and Dan Wulff, Calgary, Canada.    
  • Social Construction, Relational Theory and Transformative Practices | Oct. 16-18 - with Sheila McNamee and Harlene Anderson, Durham, New Hampshire.   

To register, visit: http://www.taosinstitute.net/upcoming-workshops



  •  International Summer Institute with Harlene Anderson | June 16-20, Mexico.   
  • Attractor/Taos Summer Institute | July 2-4, 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark. 
More workshops will be listed soon.


For details and a listing of more workshops, visit our website.
Friends of the Taos Institute
Workshop Series

Contact the presenters to register for these workshops:

  • Introduction to Narrative Therapy - March 14, with Jill Freedman, Evanston, Illinois   
  • Open Dialogue Week-end Seminar Series -2014 - March 15-16, May 3-4 & May 31-June 1, London, England, with Jaakko Seikkula, Markku Sutela, Mia Kurtti, Nick Putman
  • EFTC Yearlong Narrative Course - begins May 3, with Jill Freedman and Gene Combs
  • Narrative Therapy Intensive - Level 1 - May 3-7, with Jill Freedman and Gene Combs
  • The Imagine Conference - Organized in the spirit of Peter Lang - Aug. 29-30, Denmark
  • Narrative Therapy Intensive - Level 2 - Sept. 3-7, with Jill Freedman and Gene Combs 

Visit the website for presenter information, registration and descriptions.   


And, more workshops will be listed soon.  

For details, registration and more workshop listings, visit our website.

WorldShare Books WorldShare Books 
Free Download Books  


Sharing Ideas and Practices From Around the World


The Taos Institute offers free-of-charge books for downloading to your computer or favorite reader. Our ultimate aim is to offer books in all languages. Like all the Taos Institute Publications, WorldShare Books represent significant contributions relevant to social constructionist theory and practice. More books are being added all the time. Check it out!  

All books are available in PDF format. Visit WorldShare Books for fifteen books in English, 2 in Spanish, 1 in Italian, 1 in German, 1 in Africaans and 1 in Farsi. More books to come.
Read about the Civic Speakers Series Project

Janet Newbury, a Taos Institute Associate, has engaged a diverse range of citizens in her community to gather in information sessions and dialogues about concrete alternatives to existing policies and practices. Built on the assumptions that a) discourses influence our visions of what is possible and b) locally generated responses to public concerns are effective and just, they are creating a series of forums in which new realities can be co-constructed through generative dialogues and actions that spring from these events. A volunteer group of concerned citizens with a great deal of experience organizing events have convened and call themselves 'Voices'. This group is spearheading the organization of the Civic Speakers Project, and will partner with existing institutions and organizations for the various events.

Read the full report at this link:

Resources for Teaching, Exploring, and Enjoying Social Construction   Interdependence

We offer you here a collection of visual resources to explore and enjoy social constructionist thinking. A number of these resources are used by our associates and colleagues in social constructionist training context. Many of the resources are compiled from what is available on the worldwide web and we ask you to appropriately acknowledge the original sources in your use.


The resources are organized into cartoons, interactive visuals, mini-movies, photographs/images and presentation slides. Click on any resource title below to view them. We invite you to post your comments in the space provided on each resource page. You can also narrow the search for resources by using the above categories or by selecting the tags on the right margin. We are interested in your resources too. Please submit them for consideration using this form. Enjoy!

- Visit: www.taosinstitute.net/visual-resources


The Taos Institute's mission is to bring together scholars and practitioners concerned with the social processes essential for the construction of reason, knowledge, and human value.

We are committed to exploring, developing and disseminating ideas and practices that promote creative, appreciative and collaborative processes in families, communities and organizations around the world through a social constructionist lens.

We look forward to your participation in the dialogue.


Dawn Dole, Executive Director
The Taos Institute

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