Re: PCP psychotherapy books

Tim Connor (
Tue, 29 Jun 1999 20:20:26 -0700

I must confess, I've been somewhat disappointed in most of the
practice-oriented books on PCP I've read, though I wouldn't want to
suggest that they aren't useful. I own Winter's book, as well as Fay
Fransella & Peggy Dalton's "Personal Construct Counseling in Action" and
Linda Viney's "Personal Construct therapy: A Handbook," and have found
all of them valuable (Winter's is most useful as a guide to the
literature on PCP psychotherapy; it's not at all a manual, though it
very effectively delineates the range of techniques that have been used
in personal construct therapy).

It seems to me that much of the writing on PCP therapy practice goes to
such great effort not to be a cookbook that it often falls in the other
direction--it fails to provide much in the way of technique at all,
seeming to proceed from the assumption that if you really understand the
theory, you'll know what to do. There's also far too much emphasis on
grids, compared to all the rest of the stuff that happens in therapy.
It's a difficult line to walk--I would hate to see PCP reduced to a set
of pat, manualized "interventions" (as if such a thing were possible).
But I don't think that theory itself is enough to inform clinical
practice--there needs to be some sense of how particular kinds of
actions by the therapist help the client's reconstruing, and this tends
to get somewhat short shrift.

There are a lot of good chapters in edited books in the PCP
literature--maybe when I have a bit of time I'll dig around and come up
with a list. (One that comes to mind immediately is Bob Neimeyer's
chapter in Rosen & Kuehlwein's "Constructing Realities": "Process
interventions for the constructivist psychotherapist.") And there are
some books that are not explicitly PCP oriented, but that seem (to me)
quite compatible. One of the best of these, IMHO, is Ecker & Hulley's
"Depth-Oriented Brief Therapy," which acknowledges some debt to Kelly,
but not as much as it should.

I would love to see a collection of PCP case studies, with extensive
transcripts and commentary. Maybe someone's working on this already.