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Lecture 9

PPE 3003 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Personal Construct Theory

Psychology In Personality
Course Code
PPE 3003
Heesacker Martin

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Selected Reading 9
25: Personal Construct Theory and the Psychotherapeutic Interview –
George A. Kelly
1. What is materialistic realism? Why should therapists wriggle loose from this view?
Materialistic realism, according to Kelly, is the hard-headed, obstinate view that psychotherapy
can present the true, objective nature (“packaged reality”) of a person. He believed that this view
hindered obstructed communication between the therapist and client since the client wouldn’t be
able to understand what the therapist saw through his/her own “peculiar spectacles.”
2. What is personal construct theory?
Personal construct theory is the view that everyone understands the world differently, and that
what guides their behavior is their interpretation of the surrounding environment. Constructs,
peoples’ interpretations of their personal experiences, give meaning to their memories and future
3. Describe the components of the ideal client/therapist relationship from the viewpoint of a
The therapist should be passive, accepting, and as nonjudgmental as possible; he/she should
avoid dogmatism and realism (in Kelly’s words, a “special form” of dogmatism that stifles
clients’ creative efforts). The therapist should try to change the client’s outlook through
constructive alternativism, the theory that constructs are subject to multiple interpretations.
Through constructive alternativism, a therapist can change his/her client’s negative view of
something to make it positive.
4. If the therapist is to abandon “realism” so that the client can maintain his or her own
reality, then the therapist will no longer be on common ground with the client. Under those
circumstances, there is no shared understanding of what the client expressed, so what does
it mean for the therapist to “accept” what the client presents?
According to Kelly, abandoning realism is saying that “whatever exists can be reconstrued.” It is
effective in that it lets the client to use his or her imagination, allowing many reconstructions that
can open fresh channels for a rich and productive life.
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