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‘We are scientists of our own lives’

JULY 6-9: Researchers gather at Concordia for Quebec’s first International Congress on Personal Construct Psychology
June 28, 2017
By Elisabeth Faure

From left: keynote speakers Valeria Ugazio and François Desjardins From left: keynote speakers Valeria Ugazio and François Desjardins

For the first time ever, the International Congress on Personal Construct Psychology (ICPCP) is coming to Quebec, courtesy of a group of Concordia researchers from the Department of Education. The event takes place from July 6 to 9.

“This congress will celebrate the worldwide use of personal construct psychology (PCP),” says associate professor and organizer Ann-Louise Davidson.

“It will highlight the broad range of its applications and emphasize its evolution in a variety of disciplines that go above and beyond its original application to psychology.”

PCP stems from the work of George Kelly, the American psychologist who developed a psychotherapy approach and interview technique called the repertory grid interview to help patients analyze their own constructs or ways of seeing the world.

“According to PCP, we are scientists of our own lives, and we develop constructs that we use to anticipate events,” Davidson explains.

The theme of this year's congress is Reconnecting and Celebrating Diversities. It will create synergies between the fields where PCP is applied and encourage scholars, students and practitioners to reflect on innovative research methods.

These include the repertory grid, perceiver grids, narrative and other more qualitative approaches that are being used in the exploration of personal meaning.

From left: associate professor Ann-Louise Davidson and PhD candidate Nadia Naffi From left: associate professor Ann-Louise Davidson and PhD candidate Nadia Naffi.

‘Understanding human experience’

Associate professor Davidson, PhD candidate Nadia Naffi, assistant professor Giuliana Cucinelli and professor Richard Schmid co-organized the ICPCP 2017 congress.

“Nadia was really the driving force in putting this event together,” Davidson points out.

Indeed, the idea of hosting the congress at Concordia came to Davidson when Naffi encouraged her to travel to last year’s European Personal Construct Association Conference in Padova, Italy.

“Nadia developed a new methodology to engage youth from host societies in a reflection on online comments about the Syrian refugee crisis,” Davidson says.

“She wanted to present her methodology in front of experts and I wanted to present a new social approach to using PCP.”

At the opening cocktail in Padova, Davidson happened to chat with Harry Procter and David Winter, two well-known researchers in PCP. They told her they were looking for a place to host the 2017 international congress.

“My immediate reply was, ‘Do you want to come to Canada? Concordia is the best place to host this event!’”

Beginning with pre-congress workshops, this year’s ICPCP will allow participants to network with scholars, students and practitioners from groups including the George Kelly Society, the European Personal Construct Association, the Constructivist Psychology Network (North America) and the European Constructivist Training Network (ECTN). Groups from Australia, Italy and the United Kingdom are also coming to Montreal to participate.

In addition to being its first-ever visit to Quebec, the 2017 ICPCP will mark its first return to Canada in 35 years.

“This project will unite international scholars, students and practitioners who have been using PCP in interdisciplinary fields and those who are developing creative methodologies that can be associated with PCP to understand human experience,” Davidson says.

“We want to introduce students, practitioners and scholars to PCP and identify new techniques and applications that will benefit Canadian society, as well as internationally.”

Valeria Ugazio, founder of the European Institute of Systemic-relational Therapies in Milan and the University of Bergamo will deliver a keynote address — Being Diverse Within Different Family Semantics — on Friday, July 7 after the conference’s opening ceremony.

The following day, congress attendees will be invited to hear another keynote address by Davidson’s doctoral supervisor François Desjardins: From Lecturing to Lurking: A Constructionist Educator’s Guide to Online Learning.


Learn more about the 2017 International Congress on Personal Construct Psychology at Concordia, July 6 to 9. There are still a few spots left in the pre-congress workshops. To register, email the organizers.



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