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Personalisation: Interpersonal Skills for Practitioners using Personal Construct Psychology. JSWEC 2009 Barry Cooper, The Open University b .firstname.lastname@example.org Nick Reed, University of Hertfordshire email@example.com. Aims of the Workshop 1. Key contexts: Personalisation
Barry Cooper, The Open University firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Reed, University of Hertfordshire email@example.com
As George Kelly, the inventor of Personal Construct Psychology, said: ‘If you want to know about a person, ask them, they may tell you’. The PCP method of "Self-Characterisation" is an individual reflexive exercise based on this simple idea:
"Write a character sketch of [your name] in your work role (e.g. social worker, health professional etc) just as if you are the central character in a play. Write it as it might be written by a friend who knows you very intimately and very sympathetically, perhaps better than anyone ever really could know you. Be sure to write it in the third person. For example, start out by saying "[your name] is ..................................”
Activity: eliciting some of your personal constructs
Activity: personal constructs and your core values ("laddering")
Activity: getting down to the detail ("pyramiding")
Ask your partner to think of 3 people: two clients with whom they have enjoyed working and one client with whom they have not enjoyed working. Write the initials of each of these people on separate cards - one person’s initials per card.
Ask your partner: “In terms of social work practice in what important way are two of these people alike and thereby different from the third.”
When your partner has given you the first 'pole' of the construct, ask them for their subjective opposite in meaning to that pole (i.e. not the dictionary opposite). When you have been given that opposite pole, you have 'elicited' one of the personal constructs your partner uses to differentiate between their clients.
NB. The opposite pole may or may not be a characteristic of the third element.
A client with whom I have enjoyed working
A client with whom I have not enjoyed working
Another (different) client with whom I have enjoyed working
Constructs to Ladders: Gazing towards the Core
4. Instead of asking why they prefer one pole to the other, you can ask the interviewee why one pole is more important to them than the other. You also can ask them what the benefits (or advantages) are to them of being X rather than Y. Stress that it is their personal view that is required.
5. You will sense when you have reached the top of the ladder because your partner will probably be stating very abstract concepts such as “Well that’s what life’s all about” or, they may not be able to offer any further answers.
Pyramiding is a method which enables the interviewer to make a person’s constructs more concrete.
The process of pyramiding is one of asking ‘What’ and ‘How’ rather than ‘Why’ (the laddering question).
If one way that a person discriminates between cars is by using the construct economical vs uneconomical, and you want to know what they mean by ‘economical’, you can use pyramiding to find out. They may just mean it uses modest amounts of fuel - but they may also be referring to cheap servicing, spares, insurance and low depreciation.
Pyramiding can also be used to elicit specific behaviours. For instance, a client may use the construct warm -v- cold to describe one of the ways she uses to differentiate between people. She can be asked “How do you “recognise someone who is ‘warm’ ”. She may say “because they come up to you and talk to you rather than ignore you”.
Today we have looked at the following PCP methods which you can add to your existing range of interpersonal skills:
This website gives details of PCP Distance Learning Courses and face to face workshops offered by the Centre for Personal Construct Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire.
This website has information on Personal Construct Psychology and Repertory Grid Technique.