Personal Construct Psychology

A man thinking with cogs and diagrams around his head

The ACT Counselling Services Team have been developing and delivering a new input as part of the PG Diploma on Personal Construct Psychology (PCP). The first thing that we must remind ourselves of is that PCP is a philosophy as opposed to a theory. It is our opinion that it is crucial for CBT Practitioners to have an understanding of PCP as it enhances our understanding of CBT’s philosophical underpinnings.

What is Personal Construct Psychology?

Two cartoon men figuring out what some complex language says on a board and them saying it all makes sense when put like that.

So what is PCP all about and why are we so excitable about it. I suppose the place to begin is perception and PCP is all about perception and making sense of things. As human beings, we are meaning-making creatures and our minds are just meaning-making machines. We are driven to make sense of things. This translates into a therapeutic context as we attempt to make sense and find explanations for our client’s thoughts, feelings, behaviours and motivations etc.

The CBT Practitioners role

A woman having a discussion with someone

The trap that one must never fall into as a CBT Practitioner is to impose our sense of meaning-making onto our client. If we do, we run the risk of not understanding our client or their issues in the fullest sense. So for example, when the client states they are anxious or depressed, how do we know what this is like for them. Unless we specifically ask then we are imposing our own understanding of what anxiety or depression is like for us, or indeed how we have heard other people describe what it is like for them. This is not representative of an individual’s uniqueness. Think about how other people’s feelings, behaviours and motivations etc are explained away in day to day life: ‘He/She obviously did that because……………,’ ‘You are feeling like that because……,’ so on and so forth.

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The technique used to gain an understanding of what another’s experience is like is called ‘Suspension.’ How to use this can be discovered by enrolling on the ACT Counselling Services PG Dip Level Diploma in CBT and Groupwork.

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