Re: Construing Psychotherapy Outcomes and the Role of Persuasion

Cross MC (
Sat, 20 Apr 1996 09:03:22 +0100 (BST)

Dear John & Others,

I have been interested in your discussion on this thread. I work with
clients who are HIV positive from what IMHO is a pretty much a PC
approach. In reading your words (John and Ana) I was reminded of a
client with whom I recently asked; "what do you reckon of our work so far?"
His reply was essentially about how when he came to therapy he worried
about HIV, but now worries about lots more things. My feeling about this
is that I have to take responsibility to a fairly large extent for the
*PROCESS* rather than the *CONTENT* of his construing.

I, like you John, consider myself pretty good at setting up provocative
experiments which challenge and seek to elaborate choices in construing,
but I believe that my clients have to find something of meaning in what I
say and do (hell often they find meaning in things I don't know I do, or
when they miss my extremely insightful and intelligent point!). See I
think of me/therapist as an event/element. Something to be construed and
made sense of. That is not to say I take no responsibility for my clients
conclusions - this (PCT) is a co-participatory process where we negotiate
some meanings. However at the end of the day my client will exercise
their right of choice, hopefully in a fashion which is consistent with my
Kellian value of "keeping what works and letting go of what doesn't".

So in relation to my client (who now it would seem has more to worry
about) I feel happy with my intervention thus far. His perceptual field has
increased. He is actively making choices although some of the previously
submerged options are unpleasant (I would argue - equally as unpleasant
as before they became verbal). And he is trying out new ways of being.
In the process of incorporating a new "HIV positive self", he was forced to
identify how it was similar and different from other selves. To do this
he had to elaborate and get to know these other-selves and he didn't like
them all.

Well I don't know if the above will make sense in the context of the
discussion thus far. This is just what I think. So take what works for
you and leave the rest.


malcolm (c. cross)
department of psychology
city university
northampton square
london ec1v ohb