The Centre from an Historical Perspective 

The Centre for Personal Construct Psychology, founded by  the late Professor Fay Fransella in 1981, was the first international focus for the study and practice of George Kelly's Personal Construct Psychology. Fransella started out with the aim of "offering PCP to anyone who might want it". By that she meant making Kelly's ideas available to those who were not necessarily psychologists. She saw those ideas being of interest to anyone dealing with other people, as well as psychologists.

While still teaching at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School, London University, Fay  established courses on the theory and applications of the psychology of personal constructs in 1977.

Several students went on to further explore Kelly's ideas with her on an advanced course. Many were not psychologists and have gone on to contribute greatly to the development of interest generally in personal construct psychology including: Peggy Dalton (a speech therapist), Gavin Dunnett (a psychiatrist) and Helen Jones (a student counsellor).

By the time the Centre for Personal Construct Psychology was established at 132 Warwick Way, London, England in 1981, it was becoming clear that the teaching of the theory and applications of personal construct psychology was going to play a major role along with offering a counselling and psychotherapy service.

A number of people worked with Fay Fransella at the Centre in Warwick Way at various times up to 1990, the first person being Peggy Dalton. Others involved in the early days were Helen Jones, Chris Thorman, Joyce Watson, John Porter and Fern Grant.

The Centre’s first premises in Warwick Way, Pimlico, London

Here are pictured at the launch of the Centre from left to right: Gavin Dunnett, Cassie Cooper, Peggy Dalton, Fay Fransella, Don Bannister and Helen Jones.

“Often it is the uninferred fragment of a man’s construction system that makes him great, whereas if he were an integrated whole – taking into account all that the whole would have to embrace – the poor fellow would be no better than his ‘natural self’ "

George Kelly


Peggy Dalton and Helen Jones left the Centre and John Porter, Ray Evans and Pat Maitland joined it. From its early days many gave constant support to its work including Gavin Dunnett, Cassie Cooper, Tom Ravenette, Don Bannister and David Winter.

If it were not for Don Bannister, many think that there would have been no Centre at all. But Bannister read Kelly’s two volumes in the library of the Institute of Psychiatry in London in 1957 while training as a clinical psychologist. He realised it was the only psychology that was about the individual person – it referred to him as well as to all other individuals. One major implication of that would be the need for psychology to change its view of science. He used his great intellect and talent with words to ‘spread the word’ most effectively. Kelly was convinced that if many in the United Kingdom had not taken up his ideas, they would indeed never have been taken up in their country of origin, the United States of America. His main research area using PCP ideas was with people whose thinking was ‘disordered’ and who were diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia. Kelly's ideas clearly influenced the four novels he wrote.

Even before she established the Centre at Warwick Way, Fay Fransella saw an international aspect to the development of interest in personal construct psychology. Although most interest had been in the United Kingdom, due in large part to the work of the late Don Bannister in the early 1970's, it was becoming clear that curiosity about personal construct psychology was steadily increasing in other parts of Europe, North America and Australia. The clearest indication of this came when the 1975 Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, organised by Al Landfield, was devoted entirely to personal construct psychology.

As a result, of that Nebraska meeting, the Centre for Personal Construct Psychology organised the first International Congress in Personal Construct Psychology in 1977 (see: International Congresses ) which was held at Oxford University, UK. The organisers were Don  Bannister, Fay Fransella and Miller Mair. In order to acknowledge the importance of Al Landfield's work in the 1975 Nebraska Symposium, Fay Fransella suggested that the Oxford Congress be called the "Second International Congress". A decision which has subsequently lead to much confusion! Since 1977, an International Congress has been held every two years.

During its ten-year stay at Warwick Way, the Centre offered basic and advanced courses and workshops on PCP and a counselling and psychotherapy service. The Centre was accepted by the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy as an organisational member. That meant that all those who gained the Centre’s  Diploma in PCP  Psychotherapy were recognised as Personal Construct Psychotherapists. The Centre also created the Diagnostic Research Method for work in organisations, and continued to develop applications of personal construct psychology and its methods for working with managers and staff in organisations.

During this time Fay Fransella made a trip to the United States to visit George Kelly's widow, Gladys, who allowed her to make photocopies of anything in "the boxes" that contained Kelly's unpublished papers. Gladys kindly gave Fay permission to use  these papers in any way she wanted, provided that she did not prevent them being published.  Fay’s suitcase on the flight home was marked very heavy.

It became clear at the end of the 1980's that keeping substantial  premises in Central London for a small professional organisation like the Centre was neither financially viable nor necessary with the advent of modern methods of communication.

Accordingly, when the Warwick Way premises were disposed of, the Centre became a "virtual organisation". Ray Evans agreed to take over the training course for PCP psychotherapists and counsellors and he and others connected with the Centre decided that they would set up another organisation focusing on training PCP psychotherapists who could become registered with the UKCP. Nick Reed, who at the time was studying for his Diploma in PCP in organisational development, gave a great deal of his time working on these changes.

Nick Reed continued to give his up his time to ensure that the Centre could continue to function as a virtual organisation. By 2005 he established, with the enormous assistance of Professor David Winter and Professor Ben Fletcher, the Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, a new home for the Centre at the University of Hertfordshire.

Nick Reed has been Director of the Centre since 2005 and he has worked to set up the infrastructure and systems at the University of Hertfordshire from which all the Centre's current activities operate.

Because of Nick Reed’s work, the Centre has been able to continue to offer its courses and workshops from its new home at the University of Hertfordshire. Of particular importance is the PCP distance learning programme that Fay Fransella and Nick Reed developed before the Centre joined the University of Hertfordshire. That programme is still offered and attracts students from all over the world. Full details of the Centre’s distance learning courses and workshops can be accessed by clicking here Other activities of the Centre can be viewed by clicking on services to individuals and services to organisations.

Fay Fransella donated her definitive collection of personal construct books, journal papers and the vast majority of George Kelly's unpublished manuscripts, to form the basis of the Fransella PCP Collection now held in the University of Hertfordshire’s library.  That Collection can be accessed by anybody who is interested in personal construct psychology and its methods of inquiry.


Don Bannister

Don Bannister (1966) suggests that:

“As a simple and immediate test of a psychological theory, I would suggest that you examine it and if it implies that man is much less than we know him (or her) to be or more significantly if it implies that you are much less than you know yourself to be, then such a framework should be discarded." (Bull. BPS. 63, p. 26)


“To transcend the obvious – that is the basic psychological problem for man”…. By construing we reach beyond anything that man has heretofore known – often reach in vain, to be sure, but sometimes with remarkable prescience."

 (Kelly, “The psychology of the unknown” in D. Bannister (ed) (1977) New Perspectives in Personal Construct Theory. London: Academic Press (p. 4)

Professor David Winter,
University of Hertfordshire

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