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Fixed-role therapy
Fixed-role therapy is one of the few therapeutic techniques devised by George Kelly (1955). The usual procedure is that the client is asked to write a self-characterisation and, drawing upon this, the therapist writes a sketch of a new character which the client, if s/he finds it plausible, is asked to enact for two weeks. This character will not be someone who is the complete opposite of the client but instead is likely to introduce some new construct orthogonal to the client’s major existing construct dimensions. During the enactment period, the client is encouraged to "become" the new character, and several therapy sessions will be held in which the client rehearses the role, focusing on situations which s/he is likely to enter outside the therapy room. The aim of the exercise is not to transform the client permanently into the new character but rather to encourage experimentation and provide "one good, rousing, construct-shaking experience" (Kelly, 1955, p. 412).

There have been several variations in the fixed-role procedure, including applications of it by Kelly and others in the group setting (e.g. Epting and Nazarion, 1987) and in marital therapy (Kremsdorf, 1985). There has also been some research evidence of the effectiveness of fixed-role procedures, although some of these depart markedly from Kelly’s original method (Karst and Trexler, 1970: Lira et al., 1975; Beail and Parker, 1991).


  • Beail, N. and Parker, C. (1991). Group fixed role therapy: a clinical application. International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology, 4, 85-96.
  • Epting, F.R. and Nazario, A., Jr. (1987). Designing a fixed role therapy: issues, technique, and modifications. In R.A. Neimeyer and G.J. Neimeyer (eds.), Personal Construct Psychotherapy Casebook. New York: Springer.
  • Kelly, G.A. (1955). The Psychology of Personal Constructs. New York: Norton (republished by Routledge, 1991).
  • Kremsdorf, R. (1985). An extension of fixed-role therapy with a couple. In F. Epting and A.W. Landfield (eds.), Anticipating Personal Construct Pychology. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press,. 

David A. Winter

Establ. 2003
Last update: 15 February 2004