David Green, come Visiting Professor della nostra Scuola, ha condotto due seminari sul tema PCP approaches to working with children and young people.

Il 2 aprile David ha incontrato i nostri studenti del primo e secondo anno, mentre il 3 aprile gli studenti del terzo e quarto anno.

David ha voluto condividere alcune sue riflessioni su questa esperienza.

A few reflections on my visit to the Institute of Constructivist Psychology, Padova 2&3 April 2011

Following Tom Ravenette there is a tradition among psychotherapists using PCP approaches with children that they invite their young charges to describe their experiences by “just giving three words”. I’ll use that trick on myself to structure my reflections on a recent very fruitful trip to the Institute of Constructivist Psychology in Padua.

My first construct is WARM. It applies to the weather, the welcome and the learning climate in the Institute. I gather the Spring sunshine and temperatures above 25 degrees were warm even by Mediterranean standards but to a pair of Brits emerging from a long Yorkshire winter this was blissful. However the warmth of the welcome I and my wife Catherine received throughout was even more impressive. I had appreciated the evident care that had been taken in making preliminary arrangements and was struck by the thoroughness and generosity of everyone involved in planning and running the programme – both staff and students. Finally I hope it is not stretching the notion of warmth too far to say that I found the Institute to be something of a “hot bed” of constructivist thinking. This is not a setting in which students wait to be filled up with other people’s wisdom. They engage and wrestle with ideas at both a theoretical and practical level. It is a stimulating climate in which to teach.

My second construct is REFRESHING. In this case I am not thinking primarily of the healing qualities of some warm sun on your back but of the intellectual energy for constructivist ideas that I rediscovered in my conversations with students and staff at the Institute. I had initially thought I would dust off some familiar power points and provide a well-rehearsed but not particularly novel tour of some of my past publications. However both in preparation and particularly in response to several good and challenging questions from both groups of students I found myself venturing into new territory in a way I had not expected. I hope this was good for the students. It was certainly good for me! In my scheme of things the opposite pole to REFRESHING in this context is probably TIRED. Too often meetings of personal construct psychologists in the UK are cosy gatherings of old friends essentially repeating the same conversations. In contrast PCP in Padua bristles with youthful energy. There was a time in the early 1970s when Kellian ideas that were losing influence in the USA were revitalised by the writings of a new generation of PCP enthusiasts in the UK. I sense something similar in the wind nowadays. Italian thinkers and practitioners have the passion and talent to bring fresh impetus to constructivist psychology world-wide. I felt a similar surge of optimism when visiting the Serbian Constructivist group in Belgrade too.

My final construct is HARDWORKING. I could not fail to be impressed by the sheer commitment shown by both groups of students whom I taught. The Saturday group were relatively inexperienced in both their exposure to Kelly’s psychology and the challenge of being addressed in English rather than their native Italian. They coped with both these apparent handicaps excellently. I noted how well the group members supported each other not only in providing translations of particular terms or phrases but also in helping their classmates appreciate and challenge lines of argument that I had proposed. This engagement with the material was evident from the quality of the questions posed by students. I also appreciated the unambiguous non-verbal communication on the faces of a few lost souls when I was not getting my message across successfully. The Sunday group was more at ease with PCP principles and better attuned to my speaking in English. However I set them a different kind of challenge. I wanted to introduce the group to the complexities of the debates within the evidence-based practice movement and, with luck, interest them in developing a commitment to collecting practice-based evidence. I had not realised that the postgraduate psychotherapy curriculum in Italy does not have a strong research component so I was pushing an unfamiliar line of evidence. Some students for example were not fully familiar with the logic behind randomly controlled outcome trials. However the whole group stuck with me as we went through a series of research studies and design issues. As before group members helped each other out when necessary. It was most satisfying to listen to the vitality of the end of the day discussion groups when I had asked the students to consider how they might themselves use some of the principles of practice-based evidence. And that was at the end of three full days of attending lectures and workshops when the rest of Italy was sunning itself! Definitely a hard-working cohort on a hard-working programme...

I hope the course finds these reflections helpful.

Many thanks for inviting me to Padua.

David Green

12/04/2011

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