The self-characterization technique: Uses, analysis and elaboration



Publication Details

Crittenden, N. & Ashkar, C. (2012). The self-characterization technique: Uses, analysis and elaboration. In P. Caputi, L. L. Viney, B. M. Walker & N. Crittenden (Eds.), Personal Construct Methodology (pp. 109-128). United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell.


The self-characterization, also known as the character sketch, is a technique within Personal Construct Therapy that aims primarily to tap directly into the client's personal construction system, that is, the ways in which the client understands and interprets himself or herself (Kelly, 1991, Vol. 1, p. 243). It is a brief, written exercise asking the client to write about himself or herself in a way that may be utilized at some time during therapy. This time can range from before therapy begins to any particular point in the process that the therapist feels would be useful. The client may choose to write the self-characterization during a session or treat it as homework so he or she has more time to think about it. Kelly originally presents the self-characterization, or character sketch, as an elaboration of clinical methodology "since our theory was designed primarily with the area of clinical psychology as its focus of convenience" (Kelly, 1991, Vol. I, p. 239) and as an extension of the credulous approach (Kelly, 1991, p. 241). It was used by Kelly as a means of identifying how a person structures their world, how they see themselves within this world and finally how they handle their world (Bannister and Fransella, 1986).

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