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.

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