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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Psychological Distance & Development of Mental Representations: Giving Construal Level-Based Techniques a Closer Look

by Pamela Sarte, PhD 3 CE Credits

We think about ideas outside of the here-and-now on a regular basis in order to attend to mental activities, such as when we plan for the future, problem-solve an anticipated or ongoing stressor, or even do something as simple as daydream.  Whenever people think about ideas that are outside of their present state of awareness they use mental representations to consider these abstract thoughts. Many factors impact the mental representation that one internally develops, or construes.  For example, Construal Level Theory has identified an interaction between psychological distance and the formation of mental representations, or construals. Since individuals make decisions based on the mental representations used to depict an idea, being able to alter the mental representation formed can aid  clients to modify patterns of poor decision-making (e.g., compulsive behaviors, addictions), as well as reduce the experience of negative affect (e.g., anxiety). This online CE course is designed to explore some of the factors related to developing construals.  The contribution of Construal Level Theory on describing the development of mental representations is also explored.  The idea of psychological distance, including its four spectrums, is thoroughly investigated and a discussion of the clinical applications and related therapeutic approaches to alter mental construal development patterns is provided, as well as techniques to facilitate this process.


This online course is approved for APA CE credit, NBCC CE clock hours and ASWB Clinical CE clock hours. NYSED CEs are NOT approved for this online course.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Relevance
  • The Theoretical Foundation of Mental Construals: Paving the Way for CLT
  • Overview of Construal Level Theory
  • The Evidence to Support the Theory
  • Direct Clinical Applications
  • Summary and Conclusion
  • Web-based Resources
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Demonstrate an evidence-based foundation for the construct of ‘psychological distance’ and the development of mental construals based on 4 underlying theories related to categorization, concept formation, action identification, and temporal distance.
  • Identify and empirically substantiate the four critical elements of Construal Level Theory (CLT), as well as their interactive relationship. 
  • Recognize at least 3 clinical applications of CLT-based approaches (e.g., affect regulation, uptake of health-related behaviors) and clinically utilize CLT exercises alone or in tandem with 4 common treatment models (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Rational Emotive Therapy, Mindfulness-based Approaches, Motivational Interviewing) toward therapeutic goals.