Expert Panel Perspective Amanda Rohrbach California Southern University Expert PanelPerspectiveWhen selecting a methodology for aclient, the practitioner should consider multiple theories to assist in meetingthe client’s goals.
Often a practitioneris not an expert in one theory, and must consult with peers to learn newapplications or explore opportunities to see their clients through differentperspectives. Discovering howPhenomenological, Trait and Biological/Genetic theories can impact apractitioner’s understanding around the development of personality can provideinvaluable information to treatment procedures. Panel of ExpertsPhenomenologicalTheoristsFrom the Phenomenological theorists’perspective people interpret their reality through their relation to others.
In this subjective reality, what is believedabout how others view a person helps determine their self-worth orself-esteem. Carl Rogers believed, asrestated by Kirshenbaum (2004), “the process of socialization causesindividuals to distrust their feelings and sense of self; how experiences thatare inconsistent with the concept of self become denied and distorted causingpersonal distress and psychological problems” (pg. 120). When looking at John,his underlying belief that he will commit suicide as his father and grandfatherbefore him has helped shape his thoughts and feelings about his own self-worth.
This distortion in beliefs could be thebasis for the psychological problems with which John is struggling. Additionally, John is residing with widows ofsuicide who could be contributing to his distortions. A practitioner would certainly seek tounderstand John’s perception of his mothers’ and grandmothers’ beliefs abouthimself to see if this is in any way contributing to his chronic mentalillness. Phenomenological theorists postulate thateveryone has the potential to develop in a healthy way and can choose todevelopmentally progress in a healthy direction.
The disconnect between the reality that wewould like and the subjective perspective from others contributes to thedisruption in the psyche. Understanding this disconnect could help inunderstanding John’s anxiety and depression that was presented in the initialinterview. From this theoreticalperspective, while John is still oriented to reality, introspective questionswould be invaluable to understanding John’s subjective reality. Furthermore, the practitioner wouldunderstand that John’s perception is not necessarily rooted in truth. Personal experiences should be tempered withscientific analysis.Phenomenological theory practitionersalso believe in the inherent goodness of others.
One root of the theory is that individualsare unique and are inherently driven to evolve into better version ofthemselves. When looking at John’sperspective and deeply felt fears, practitioners would remind him that he isunique and unlike his father and grandfather therefore he can determine of hisown destiny. Through this belief, Johncan experience feelings of hope and thus learn to adapt and overcome thethoughts and feelings that are contributing to his anxiety and depression. Exploration of the self-concept would beimportant to the phenomenological theorist.
John would be in an ideal position to begin to understand what he trulybelieves about himself and can then move towards understanding his idealself. The discovery of the “ideal self”(Cervone & Pervin, 2017, pg. 150) can be a cathartic process for John, ashe would begin to describe the person that he wants to be in the future. At this time, John can articulate a fear ofbecoming like his grandfather and father; however, this is not a realized idealself as this is an end of self.
Byexploring movement towards self-actualization or becoming his ideal self, Johnis looking forward or future thinking as opposed to movement away from anundesired reality. A treatment intervention for John wouldbe to utilize Client-Centered therapy techniques. A practitioner of thistechnique would use unconditional positive regard when communicating with theclient and meaningful caring from the therapist (Cervone & Pervin,2017).
Using unconditional positiveregard with John could increase his self-confidence and his self-esteem, thushelping him to develop different thoughts and feelings about his depression andanxiety. Additionally, the practitionerwould utilize empathic understanding, which helps the practitioner to trulyunderstand the perspective of the client and not interject his or her ownsubjective reality onto the client (Cervone & Pervin, 2017). This projection from the counselor to theclient must be evaluated regularly to maintain ethical standards ofpractice. An additional treatment intervention thatbuilds on Client-Centered therapy is the more recent movement towards positivepsychology.
By exploring John’s positiveemotions and broadening his understanding of his strengths, this can positivelyimpact his thoughts and emotions (Cervone & Pervin, 2017). By positively impacting his thoughts andemotions, John can learn coping strategies and increase his resilience to thenegative thoughts that come with chronic depression and anxiety. During the development of positive thinkingstrategies, a practitioner would need to put in place some sort of crisis planfor John.
Assessing suicidality would beimperative to help create strategies for when the thoughts and feelings areoverwhelming. A practitioner should also examine John’scultural and religious beliefs. If John holdstraditional Christian values he could have the underlying belief that human areinherently sinful. More specifically, if he subscribes to the traditionalCatholic ideology, the consequence of suicide is an eternal separation from Godwith no opportunity for redemption. Thisbelief structure could impact his self-concept in understanding his depressionand anxiety and may be a difficult schema to change. Additionally, phenomenological theory doeslittle to understand the cultural impact on the development of the self.
Exploring John’s Hispanic origins and the impact of gender roles within theculture would have to be considered when interacting with John as apractitioner. Understanding how, if atall, this has contributed to his belief that he will be like his grandfatherand father could be left unexplored, unless the practitioner is intentional inseeking to understand the impact of culture on John’s development of self. TraitTheoristsTrait theorists focus on the differencesbetween people.
These differences fall into specific traits or categories ofbehavior or experience. Trait theorypractitioners believe in a scientific approach to understanding the differencesor similarities in the development of personality. Learning the traits of a particularindividual can assist the practitioner in being able to better understand thetypical habits and likely responses of an individual. Gordon Allport categorized traits based on”frequency, intensity, and range of situations” (Cervone & Pervin, 2017, pg.206). Using this framework, he theorizedthat there were cardinal traits that can have an overarching impact on thoughts,feelings, and behavior (Cervone & Pervin, 2017). The cardinal trait can look at the nature ofan individual, if they are sadistic, or concrete thinkers, or authoritarianrulers that can impact daily life. Atrait theorist would assess John to see if there are any predominant traitsthat would impact his thoughts, feelings and behavior.
To a lesser extent, in that the trait is notas strongly expressed would be central traits. Central traits serve as a basic foundation but not as strongly expressedin one’s daily thoughts, feelings and emotions. Secondary traits, as postulated by Gordon Allport, would only occurunder specific circumstances and present in varying degrees (Cervone , 2017). For example, a traittheorist would questions if John typically expresses anxiety as part of hischronic mental illness, or was the intake interview an anxiety-inducingevent. To better understand personalitytraits, these overarching traits and situational traits became more specific asTrait Theory progressed. More recentlytheorists have moved to the idea of the “five factors… are necessary andreasonably sufficient for a taxonomy of individual differences” (Cervone , 2017, pg. 228).
These fivefactors of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness andNeuroticism better extrapolate the facets of personality. Using psychometric tests, theorists can usequantitative scores to determine level of traits mitigating assessor bias. Understanding these five factors for John canimpact psychological diagnosis and can assist in treatment planning. Though there is little understanding aboutthe development of a trait, the inclusion of biological and social influenceshas been considered. Looking at John’sgenetic history of depressive traits and growing up with two significant malefamily members that have completed suicide, these factors are taken underconsideration. Eysenck believed “a person developsneurotic symptoms because of the joint action of the biological system and theenvironmental experiences that contribute to the learning of strong emotionalreactions to fear-producing stimuli” (Cervone & Pervin, 2017, pg.223). A practitioner of Trait theorywould want to ascertain, using various reliable assessments, the traits thatJohn displays.
Through this awareness he can avoid the potential antecedent tothe trait-producing event. Thusly, Johncan consciously choose to respond to situations differently than he hadhistorically and this varying response would ultimately change his traits. Li & Yang (2016) considered traits asresources for the individual. A Traittheorist practitioner would consider utilizing assessments to identify positivetraits that can be reinforced to develop a stress tolerance for John and anability to be resilient. Traittheorists’ practitioners understand the ethical limits of the psychometrictesting utilized to determine levels of a trait. For John to successfully respond to thetesting, he must be introspective. During the interview, he was oriented to reality with no discernabledisturbances in thinking.
While in thisstate, he is able to have some introspection into his ways of thinking andresponding. Additionally, a Traittheorists must also consider how or if his chronic mental illness has impactedhis scores during the assessment. An issue that a trait theoristpractitioner must consider is that even if John is high in a given trait thisdoes not necessarily mean he will always respond in the same way. This makes predicting behavior difficult bylooking at traits alone. Trait theoryassessments cannot assess the immediate needs of a client in crisis. Assessing John’s suicidality is notinherently a part of trait theory, but would be necessary for any practitionerto assess. Biological/GeneticTheoristsBiological/Genetic theorists seek tounderstand what inherited characteristics exist in the development ofpersonality.
“The emphasis is placed onthe biochemistry of the behavioral systems of reward, motivation, andpunishment” (Khatibi & Khormaei, 2016, pg. 33). Practitioners seek to understand the overalltemperament of an individual, learning the innate characteristics of mood andactivity levels. When discoveringinherited genes, behavioral traits can be synthesized which leads to anunderstanding in behaviors and personality.
Biological/Genetic theorists canalso focus on experiential impact on the brain functioning. When placed in various situations, the brain’sreactions can change the anatomy of the brain. For example, if John was asked to participate in pleasure seekingactivities over a period of time it is possible that future brain scanningwould indicate changes to his brain anatomy and an increased ability to adaptto changes in his mood. When working with John, blood work wouldbe beneficial in learning the levels of neurotransmitters that are currentlyactive. Understanding John’s brainchemistry can impact any pharmacological intervention as well as specificinterventions to increase a specific neurotransmitter like going outside for awalk to increase serotonin and dopamine levels within the brain. With the invention of new technology theability to not only study the brain’s reactivity to specific stimuli, studyingDNA sequencing has shown promise in understanding chronic mental illness(Villa, 2016).
A Biological/Genetictheorist would also work with John around his understanding regarding his fearof his eventual suicide as his grandfather and father. A practitioner would be able to articulate anunderstanding that even though roughly 40-50% of personality traits areinherited; does not mean that personality is incapable of changing and focus John’sefforts on growth (Cervone & Pervine, 2017). John could also benefit from a functional MRIto identify areas of his brain that are involved in his internal assumptionsabout himself. These various methods ofassessment can assist in his understanding of his brain functioning and canincrease feelings of control over emotion and behavior. A drawback of Biological/Genetic theorywould be that learning and understanding how the brain works and the heredityof traits does little to indicate how to change the impact of these traits. Newresearches in the areas of neurosciences are trying to ascertain the role of theenvironment and how to impact change to specific areas of the brain. In theinterim, theorists must address an immediate crisis plan for John assuicidality is established.
Additionally, helping John to understand what, if any, culturalinfluences may have impacted his environment to increase the dominance of aspecific trait and how this can be altered in the future. When treating a client there are multipletheories that can influence the practitioners preferred methodology.Considering the aforementioned theories, all of them have facets that wouldbenefit John and his understanding and adaptability of his thoughts, feelingsand behavior. Where the Phenomenologicaltheorist relies on the belief in John’s inherent goodness and how unconditionalpositive regard can increase his self-confidence. A Trait theorist could assist John in seeingthe traits that make him unique and provide concrete examples of the traitsthat he currently possess and could continue to grow individually, thusincreasing his response to negative thoughts and feelings. A Biological/Genetic theorist could assist inhelping John understand his brain chemistry and targeted interventions toincrease neurotransmitters that can increase pleasure. Prior to employing any theory a practitionermust consider how cultural influences personality development, and additionalemergent needs such as crisis planning until interventions can begin to changebehavior.
References Cervone, D., & Pervin, L. A. (2017). Personality: theory and research.Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Ferrari,F., & Villa, R. F.
(2016). The Neurobiology of Depression: an IntegratedOverview from Biological Theories to Clinical Evidence. MolecularNeurobiology, 54(7), 4847-4865. doi:10.
1007/s12035-016-0032-yKirschenbaum, H. (2004). Carl RogerssLife and Work: An Assessment on the 100th Anniversary of HisBirth. Journal of Counseling & Development, 82(1), 116-124.
, & Khormaei, F. (2016).Biological Basis of personality: A Brief Review. Journal of Live Scienceand Biomedicine, 6(2), 33-36.Li, M., & Yang, Y. (2016).
A Cross-CulturalStudy on a Resilience-Stress Path Model for College Students. Journal of Counseling & Development,94(3), 319-332. doi:10.1002/jcad.12088