Workshop: Discovering “Epistemological Grid” of a Client (Guest) Through “Personal Constructs Dialogue”

The ancient aphorism «Know Thyself» for centuries has been nudging people to „know thy measure”. What does it exactly mean? According to the theory of Personal Constructs Psychology by George Kelly it is through measures, namely, “constructs”, that the subject perceives or, rather, construes “his” world. The fundamental postulate of the theory is: “A person’s processes are psychologically channelized by the ways in which he anticipates events”. Essentially the theory views a person as a process – something already in motion. Person moves through life creating predictions about future events – very much like scientists do – that confirm (more often so) or disconfirm (less often so) them. One of the theory’s corollary states: “A person’s construction system is composed of a finite number of dichotomous constructs”. But what are constructs? As Kelly himself puts it: “They are reference axes, upon which one may project events in an effort to make some sense out of what is going on”. They are devised (consciously and not) by persons to contrast one element (thing) against another. The personal system of constructs is in effect an epistemological grid applied to different events and elements of the world. It is a mental tool for coping with the world. Via workshop I propose to have a glance at the theory and method in the context of philosophical and self-knowledge practice. Can we use the approach to enhance self-knowledge, or metaphorically, to discover what lies behind the bergsonian snowball of the enduring human life? During the workshop we will discuss the epistemological and creative potential of the method of Personal Constructs Dialogue – in application to self-knowledge dialogues. We will not only talk and discuss the approach, but try it out in practice.

The contents:

  • Philosophical assumptions of Personal Constructs Psychology.
  • The major technique of the theory – Triadic Method for Eliciting Constructs.
  • Eliciting personal constructs during self-knowledge dialogues (both in individual and group formats) – practice of “Personal Constructs Dialogue”.
  • Epistemological implications of the method. Does unveiling one’s constructs lead to a more examined life?
  • Open discussion.

Short BIO: I am an expert in adult learning and assessment. Besides work projects I conduct slow reading sessions and thinking dialogues for public, and, overall, strive to cultivate philosophy as a way of life. I received my bachelor’s degree in psychology (2004) and master’s degree in organizational psychology (2011), both from St. Petersburg State University. In 2020 I joined the philosophical practice movement after completing a course in Philosophical Counseling (by Oscar Brenifier), and in 2022 completed training (by Ran Lahav) as a Deep Philosophy facilitator. Now I am a graduate student of Philosophy at HSE (Moscow). I am interested in exploring approaches to creative phenomena in self-understanding (and self-constructing) that can occur during dialogues with the Other. I became interested in Kelly’s theory and methodology early in my career, and in 2016 I completed a distance course “Psychology of Personal Constructs and the «Repertory Grids» Method for Researchers” by University of Hertfordshire. I have been using the method during several business projects, philosophical practice, and research.