Professional Constructs

There are two ways in which anyone who is helping another person change psychologically needs to understand the client. In personal construct psychology we all try to understand another person by seeing the world through that person’s eyes – dealt with in personal construct theory by the sociality corollary.

The second way is by using what Kelly called professional constructs. These theoretical constructs are those used by the psychotherapist, counsellor, coach, mentor or anyone else in a ‘helping’ role. They are constructs with respect to which a client can be perceived as moving. A major one is the construct tight versus loose. Kelly says:

"These professional constructs do not refer to disease entities, or to types of people or to traits. They are proposed as universal axes with respect to which it is possible to plot any person's behaviour ….. that occur in a person’s psychological processes. In themselves, they are neither good nor bad, healthy nor unhealthy, adaptive nor maladaptive. They are like the points of the compass; they are simply assumed in order to enable one to plot relative positions and chart courses of movement." (Kelly, 1955, Vol 1, 452-3; 1991: Vol 1, 335).

Some of the other important dimensions used professionally are to do with whether some of the personal constructs causing the client problems do not have verbal labels attached to them (see levels of awareness) or whether they are crucial or core in how the person construes themselves.



For further information see: Fransella, F. & Dalton, P. (2000) Personal Construct  Counselling in Action (2nd edition) London: Sage Publications.

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