Personal Construct Therapy

What is Personal Construct Therapy?

This is a constructivist approach to therapy based on the assumption that everyone sees the world uniquely and that our view of the world we live in shapes our experience. When we form anticipations about how the world works, we tend to selectively attend to our environment and seek out evidence that these assumptions are true. Given that we can construe the world, we can reconstrue it in a way that is less problematic and more helpful.

How does Personal Construct Therapy work?

The client and the therapist collaborate to jointly understand how the client sees the world and if that version of meaning making is the most accurate or helpful. This might be achieved by identifying what higher order values the client holds that define who they are and how these are played out in their daily lives. There may be alternative ways to honour or validate these values and thus behaviour change may be possible without invalidating what you really believe in.

What is Personal Construct Therapy used for?

Personal Construct Therapy is used to help the client understand that everything they do, they do for a good reason, even if that thing isn’t good for them. Developing this understanding can be the first step toward achieving change. Through therapy the client might learn new ways of seeing events that have previously been upsetting or problematic. They might come to understand that their hypotheses about how things work were based on selective evidence and that there are many other viable alternative possibilities.

What can I expect from Personal Construct Therapy?

You can expect to establish a collaborative relationship where adopting a propositional stance is encouraged. That is, the client’s view of the world is acknowledged, but alternative constructions are entertained and ‘tried out’.

What Mental Health Issues is Personal Construct Therapy most helpful for?

There is a growing body of evidence that this approach is effective in addressing issues such as identity, self-esteem, self-harm, relationship issues, psychological wellbeing, agoraphobia and bereavement.

When doesn’t Personal Construct Therapy work?

If the client encounters significant difficulty with communication this approach is unlikely to be effective.

Things to consider before choosing Personal Construct Therapy?

The cost, training and experience of the therapist are key ingredients of success.

This content has been researched, prepared and written by Counselling in Melbourne psychologist Dr Malcolm Winstanley-Cross.

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