Psychological disorder and reconstruction



Publication Details

Walker, B. M. & Winter, D. (2005). Psychological disorder and reconstruction. In D. Winter & L. L. Viney (Eds.), Personal Construct Psychotherapy : Advances in Theory, Practice and Research (pp. 21-33). London: Whurr Publishers.


When Kelly proposed his psychology of personal constructs he described processes that were characteristic of all of us; he outlined a general theory of personality. As he stated, 'the psychology of personal constructs is designed around the problem of reconstruing life, but it is not a system built upon psychopathology'. However, he explicitly considered his theory in its application to clients, and in this context formulated a definition of disorder, as well as broad guidelines for clinicians about the goals they would pursue.

Kelly's position enables us to gain an understanding of people's functioning in the broad sense, both those seeking therapy as well as those who are not. It also gives us a conceptual framework and tools to intervene effectively to facilitate change when needed, and goals to aim for when conducting such interventions. Nevertheless, we shall argue that Kelly's formal definition of disorder is problematic in several respects. Recent papers have moved to overhaul his definition and elaborate a position that, while remaining consistent with the overall philosophy and theory, better reflects the problems confronting clinicians and the solutions that personal construct practitioners have sought for them. This chapter will integrate the issues and solutions raised to clarify an approach to understanding disorder from a personal construct perspective. We shall then go on to consider the implications of such a view for the therapeutic process.

Please refer to publisher version or contact your library.