Applying personal construct models to work with people
There is considerable pressure on practitioners who work with people to provide manuals or blueprints for approaching their tasks. However, personal construct practitioners believe that people are creative agents with free will, rather than robots or machines (Fransella, 2003; Kelly, 1955/1991; Raskin & Bridges, 2002; Rychlak, 2000), so that they resist providing such manuals. However, they do provide models that enable generalisation from one client to another or from one community to another. Models consist of a set of conceptual propositions. These propositions have consequences to be deduced (Hesse, 1967). Models and theories have similar structures (Hesse, 1967). Models are based on an underlying theory and inform both the planning of practice and interpretation of its outcomes. The scope of a model, then, is narrower than a theory. Each theory can have many models, but each model has only one theory. Theories need to be true, but models may not be. Models apply the ideas of a better known domain to a lesser known one (Harre, 1961). Models can also aid in uderstanding, generate new hypotheses, provide more information about the rules of inference about the phenomena, enable the expression and extension of psychological knowledge, help to evaluate the theories from which they spring and aid in the learning of skills by practitioners (Braithwaite, 1962; Harre & Secord, 1972). The propositions of models can also therefore be extended to aid us practitioners into strategies that we can follow. This chapter is about the use of models in personal construct practice. Some standards by which they can be judged are provided, as well as the functions that models can achieve. Two examples of models are then described: one for a client and the other for a community. The paper owes much to Dr Lindsay Oades, with whom I first explored the implications of models, but for personal construct research (Viney & Oades, 1998). Both he and the Wollongong Personal Construct Research Group have been very helpful in honing this chapter.