Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Theoretical Orientation Research Idea

     I think I may have come across an idea that could prove for some fine research in the future. Frequently, students in counseling programs, or even students of psychology looking to go into PhD or PsyD programs, are tasked with discovering their theoretical orientation. I have complained about this process in the past, but perhaps the choosing of the theoretical orientation can be cushioned by administering a personality exam and then encouraging research into a specific theory or group of theories based on the four-letter code. As a note: I have not checked the literature as of yet for this idea and it would not surprise me if it has previously been researched. Still, I see this idea as mine and would like to follow it, even if only for the academic exercise.
     There would be two phases to the research: the first phase would consist of polling established clinicians or advanced students as to their personality and their chosen orientation. The second part would be to use this information to suggest possible avenues of advanced theoretical study to beginner/intermediate students and gain an idea as to their level of "match" from the first part's data.
     The first part would consist of a Myers-Briggs-style type indicating exam. This exam would have to be both reliable and valid (if such an exam could be valid to begin with). There are some good exams out there, but the validity of the whole research is linked with every step! Every participant would report their current personality (mine is INTP, currently) as well as some additional information. This information can be quite varied. Some thoughts at this moment include: What do you see as your theoretical orientation (note: choose a specific theory when possible)? Is there a theory that you never use in your practice (possibly better put: Is there a theory that you do not see influencing your practice?)? What integrational strategy do you see yourself adhering to (Add in a description of theoretical integration, technical eclecticism, common factors, and post-modern approaches; see The Basics of Psychotherapy, page 32)? Here you received specialized training in any theory or group of theories? If so, in what and what type of training was it? I think that many more questions could (and should) be asked here, but I caution my future self to keep them on the subject at hand.
     The second part would consist of a student learning more about a theory that coincides with a recommendation from the research, one that is chosen at random (or perhaps one that shows minimal correlation), and one that shows negative correlation. From this a student can rate which on they gained the most from. Of course, every student would have to take the personality type exam before gaining their prescribed theories.
     So what is the goal of this research? This is a tough question. There are most likely multiple possible uses for this research. The working hypothesis would be something like: If a student shows (insert personality type here), then can we show that there is a meaningful correlation to end-result theoretical orientation? Perhaps this research could help a student to come to their theory faster, instead of writhing in a pit of theories that might not work for them. The end result could be a clinician who comes to their "best" theory quicker. This would ensure that they have a more accelerated process, putting them in the shoes of the theorist, allowing them to make important decisions as to general theory before burnout starts or the joy of thinking ceases.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Psychodynamics: On the Other Hand . . .

     I think that one disadvantage to psychodynamics (and indeed psychoanalysis) is that the client must be taught or persuaded in the craft. To think psychodynamically is probably not normal for most people. Thinking about thoughts strictly comes somewhat naturally, especially to people of higher cognitive level. With this in mind, it is simple to understand the hesitancy of many clients to want to engage in such therapy. Additionally, the general fear of the unknown would disallow many people to expand outside of their comfort zone, in order to integrate such a method into their being.

Monday, July 6, 2015

On-going Thoughts About Psychodynamics

     The more I think about it, the more psychodynamics makes sense. I've read somewhere that psychodynamics is psychotherapy, because it takes all origins into account (thoughts, feelings, history, present, future, etc.). I think the push-back here might come more based on how the therapy is set out. The basic tenets of psychodynamics involve a clinician ready to listen, a free associating client, and deep topics. 
     I'm not sure why I didn't consider psychodynamics in the past. In fact, I think I pretty much disregarded it completely. There is a certain hesitance to like psychodynamics . . . partially due to its similarity to psychoanalysis and its depth-based methodology. It's pretty easy to get intimidated by that.
     In any event, depth-based psychotherapies definitely vibe with me more than not. While there is a place for skills-based therapy - including REBT and DBT - getting to the root of the issue is really useful in creating real change. One can cover up maladaptive behavior with other behaviors, but understanding the self, including increased awareness and insight, can lead a person to change themselves, if wanted. I think that just gaining insight and awareness could be a goal unto itself. And just think of the changes, such as increased motivation and deeper self-understanding that might occur due to depth-based therapy than could happen during a CBT session!
     A big disadvantage of depth-based therapies is the fact that there are many clients that cannot or will not  engage in such therapy. I have met both types of clients. There are some who do not want to be told that a "deeper issue" exists, possibly due to a notion that they are conscious of the fact that there actually is a deeper issue to begin with. There are some who do not think that a deeper issues is possible. There are also many clients who just are not capable of talking about their own personal depth or just are not of a cognitive level to engage in such conversation. This is, I think, a main reason why many other orientations have found such a footing in the field.