Monday, May 27, 2013

Constructive Alternativism.

With his theory of constructive alternativism, George Kelly [1] posited that our experiences of the world around us, including events that take place or our understanding of people, including ourselves, are open to an immense variety of interpretations. Kelly argued that no one construct is a final or definitively accurate way of grasping the world. Instead, we can always create alternative constructs to better explain or represent that which we observe. A revised construct can increase our ability to comprehend the world around us and help us feel that we can predict or control it. Therapists can use constructive alternativism to help clients who are depressed or anxious live happier lives by reconsidering the way the clients have appraised their lives. Cognitive therapy, in fact, is based to some extent on this premise.

[1]  George Kelly (born George Alexander Kelly; 1905 – 1967) was an American psychologist, therapist, educator and personality theorist. He is considered the father of cognitive clinical psychology and best known for his theory of personality, Personal Construct Psychology.

Kelly's fundamental view of personality was that people are like naive scientists who see the world through a particular lens, based on their uniquely organized systems of construction, which they use to anticipate events. But because people are naive scientists, they sometimes employ systems for construing the world that are distorted by idiosyncratic experiences not applicable to their current social situation. A system of construction that chronically fails to characterize and/or predict events, and is not appropriately revised to comprehend and predict one's changing social world, is considered to underlie psychopathology (or mental illness.) The body of Kelly's work, The Psychology of Personal Constructs, Volume I and II was written in 1955 when Kelly was a professor at Ohio State University.

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