*Note* This scheduling program was not designed by folks who do a lot with APA Style and unfortunately it defaults to listing authors in alphabetical order. We cannot fix this for this online schedule, but the author orders are posted in the order submitted in the printed program available via pdf here.
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Saturday, March 7 • 10:45am - 12:00pm
The Benefits of “Rewriting” Life Events: Counterfactual Trees as a Therapeutic Tool

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When thinking about past events, individuals commonly construct “what if” scenarios. Such imagined alternatives, or counterfactuals, take two main forms, upward (e.g., life could have been better) or downward (e.g., life could have been worse; Wong, Hasselhuhn, & Kray, 2012). Research suggests that, while the construction of upward counterfactuals can be related to negative affect and feelings of regret (Boninger, Gleicher, & Strathman, 1994), it is also related to future problem solving and the motivation to do things differently in the future. On the other hand, downward counterfactual thinking is related to enhanced meaning-making and positive emotions (e.g., Kray et, al., 2010; Ruodrlova & Prokopcakova, 2010). Surprisingly, except for a few studies examining the relationship between counterfactual thinking and well-being among women who have been raped (Branscombe et al., 2003) or who have had recurrent miscarriages (Callander et al, 2007), most research in this area has utilized experimental methods in laboratory settings. Our paper will build upon this work to describe how the construction of counterfactual narratives in a therapeutic setting can empower women to derive greater meaning from their experiences and learn from the past. Specifically, we will describe how clients can benefit from constructing counterfactual trees (i.e., unstructured diagrams of alternative outcomes) that explore the diverse ways in which meaningful events could have turned out differently. This will include a discussion of how women construct life narratives, fate perceptions, and locus of control. We will end with consideration of counterfactual narratives as a form of restorative justice for victims, perpetrators, and communities.

Saturday March 7, 2015 10:45am - 12:00pm PST