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Kelly points out that, in the counselling and psychotherapy situation, if we are to be able to step into another person's shoes and try to see the world through that person's eyes, we still have to have something to give us an understanding of what we see. He describes a set of  "professional constructs" through which to gain that understanding. The important thing is that we do not try to understand the way another person sees the world by filtering it through our own set of constructs and values. The professional constructs are basically all those that make up personal construct theory, such as, preverbal, loose, tight, superordinate or core constructs. By trying to understand the world in this way one is, in fact, diagnosing what the problem is that prevents the client getting on the move again.
But there is another context in which the construct of subsuming is of use, which resulted from the development of the laddering process. In this the interviewee is encouraged to move up his or her  construing system to more and more abstract (superordinate) constructs. Fransella argues that the interviewer needs to be able to quite literally subsume the person's construing and so glimpse how exactly the client construes the world. This skill of subsuming does not relate to subsuming a person's construing within the set of professional constructs. It involves the interviewer being able to suspend his or her own values, at least for a short time. It results in "true" listening. Nothing is desirable or undesirable, good or bad. There is only interest, surprise, respect, sometimes amazement - "fancy seeing the world that way - wonderful!' as one looks at the world through someone else's eyes without one's own value system getting in the way.

Fay Fransella

Establ. 2003
Last update: 15 February 2004