Personal construct psychology

Research includes the following areas, in which there are numerous publications:

  • derivation of personal construct models of psychological disorder (including post-traumatic stress disorder, deliberate self-harm and agoraphobia)
  • the development of therapeutic approaches based upon these models
  • the evidence base for personal construct psychotherapy and under-researched therapies
  • therapists’ and clients’ therapeutic preferences
  • repertory grid technique
  • construing in love and hatred
  • serial killing and violent offending

Impact of research on practice

The lead researcher, David Winter, is both Programme Director of the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and Head of Clinical Psychology Services for Barnet in Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust, which provides funding for a research assistant for him from NHS research monies.

The Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy) has a constructivist philosophy and approximately half of the doctoral research projects of its students are conducted from this perspective. Within Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust, David Winter is lead for the research programme on ‘neuropsychology and psychological therapies’.

This programme, a principal component of which is personal construct psychology, received the highest possible rating of ‘strong’ in the 2006 Department of Health assessment of NHS research programmes.

Research in this programme on a personal construct intervention for clients who self-harm led to recurrent funding from Barnet Primary Care Trust for a psychologist to deliver the intervention.

A primary focus of much of the research is the extension of the evidence base to guide practice in the psychological therapies. A current review of this evidence base, for which the lead researcher has a book contract with Wiley, is being provided with research assistant resources by the U. Council for Psychotherapy.

Collaborations

Within the University, there is collaboration with other members of the DClinPsy course team (principally Steve Davies, Dr Saskia Keville and D. Pieter Nel).

David Winter’s collaborations have resulted in joint publications and/or conference presentations with colleagues from the universities of Barcelona, Bristol, Melbourne, Memphis, and Wollongong, the Institute of Psychiatry, and University College London, and an ESRC grant application with a colleague from the University of Melbourne who is a visiting professor at the University of Hertfordshire.

Research infrastructure

The School of Life and Medical Sciences hosts the Centre for Personal Construct Psychology (founded by Fay Fransella and currently directed by Nick Reed), which offers consultancy services to individuals and organisations, a distance learning course, and workshops provided by international experts (from the USA, Australia, Spain, Germany, and Italy), and facilitates collaborative research.

In 2006, the Centre organised a conference on personal construct psychology at the University to celebrate the 80th birthday of its founder, Prof. Fay Fransella. This was attended by over 70 delegates from several countries, and its proceedings have been published in a personal construct psychology journal.

The University also houses the Fransella Collection, a comprehensive collection of published and unpublished works on personal construct psychology, which is an invaluable resource to researchers in this field.

More generally, research in this and related clinical areas is facilitated by a research writing group for members of the DClinPsy course team.

David Winter is lead for the research programme ‘neuropsychology and psychological therapies’ within Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust. This programme, a principal component of which is personal construct psychology, received the highest possible rating of ‘strong’ in the 2006 Department of Health Assessment of NHS research programmes.