Kelly was not happy
with the Freudian notion of psychic energy and unconscious processes as
explained in motivation.
However, he was well aware that much goes on in ourselves which is not at
a conscious level.
Kelly preferred to talk about construing at differing levels of
cognitive awareness. A high level of awareness is being aware of what
is going on as and when something is happening. A less high level of
awareness occurs if you read something that disturbs you or makes you
angry but for the moment you are not sure why.
At the lowest level of cognitive awareness there are preverbal constructs.
These are constructs which continue to be used, even though they have no
consistent words attached to them. They may or may not have been created
person had command of speech. This concept plays a very important part in
personal construct psychotherapy and counselling. Or, in fact, in any
situation in which one is trying to help another person understand
themselves and others better – such as in coaching, tutoring and
As with other theoretical systems of psychotherapy, one major task may
well be to help the client put some verbal labels on these preverbal
constructs, so that they can be looked at, mulled over and generally
made sense of.
"...... personal construct theory is no more a
cognitive theory than it is an affective or a conative one. There
are grounds for distinction that operate on one's life that seem to elude
verbal expression. We see them in infants, as well as in our own
spontenaneous aversions and infatuations"
Unpublished manuscript. Brandeis University.
Printed in Fransella, F. (ed) 2003 International Handbook of Personal
Construct Psychology. John Wiley & Son.