Psychotherapy and Counselling
Psychotherapy and counselling are no more and no less than putting Kelly’s
theory to work in helping others deal with their psychological problems.
Kelly simply decided to use the practice of psychotherapy as an example of
how his theory could be applied and as being one context in which his
theory might be found useful. Otherwise he offered his theory as a total
psychology of how each one of us makes sense of our worlds and why we
behave as we do in our day-to-day lives.
His view of psychological problems is just that. We may have a problem
that we need help to solve – but we do not have a medical problem. He felt
that the so-called ‘medical model’ does a disservice to the person with
the problem. If a person has a problem we need to look at how that person
is seeing their world that leads to their being unable to ‘move on’. The
person has got ‘stuck’
From a PCP perspective, the difference between psychotherapy and counselling is that the former
may involve the client in changing how they view themselves, or their core
values. Counselling is unlikely to involve that.
There are certain skills that people need to acquire if they want to
inquire professionally into how someone with problems sees (construes),
their world. Among these are the ability to subsume another’s construing
system and the ability to suspend their own construing system. The latter
is not always so easy to acquire.
This is being able to put oneself into the shoes of another person and
look at the world through that person’s eyes. When working professionally
with personal construct
psychology, sharing how a person is experiencing their world, is more than
empathy. It means you look at that person’s world through what Kelly
described as professional constructs. These help you see what may be
causing the person to be psychologically ‘stuck’. They help you to
understand what is preventing the person from getting on with their life.
Through the use of these constructs the personal construct facilitator
decides how to proceed – she or he makes an interim ‘diagnosis’. It is a
plan of action not an end result. To be able to carry out this subsuming
you have to be able to suspend your own personal values.
Being able to suspend one’s own values so as to truly listen to what
another is saying is probably the most difficult skill a personal
construct facilitator needs to acquire.
One cannot look at how another person looks at their world if you
interpret what you see and hear using your own personal values. It is
therefore necessary to develop the skill of putting your own values to one
side, for a time at least.