Tag Archives: Growth

What do we have in common? We are all unique, maybe?


“No two individuals in the history of the human race have been born at the same instant, to the same parents, in to the same family and culture, with the same genetic endowment, educated in the same way, and the subject of precisely the same influences.  What makes us unique is our unique history.  But what makes us part of a personality type is the fact that we also share certain traits with other human beings.  Although we are unique, we are not totally different.  It would be an impossible world if everyone were literally completely unique, that is, if everyone were a totally dissimilar entity until himself or herself.  Language, literature, the arts, commerce, communication – all of society and culture – would be impossible if people did not have a great many qualities in common.”   (Riso & Hudson, 2000, p. 20-21)

 

References

Riso, D. R., & Hudson, R. (2000). Understanding the Enneagram: The practical guide to personality types (Rev. ed.). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.

Quick Definition of Mental Health


In looking at mental health criteria I came across this definition.  From an article in the Encyclopedia of Public Health, titled Mental Health says:

Dianne Hales & Robert Hales define mental health as the capacity to think rationally and logically, and to cope with the transitions, stresses, traumas, and losses that occur in all lives, in ways that allow emotional stability and growth.  In general, mentally healthy individuals value themselves, perceive reality as it is, accept its limitations and possibilities, respond to its challenges, carry out their responsibilities, establish and maintain close relationship, deal reasonable with others, pursue work that suits their talent and training, and feel a sense of fulfillment that makes the efforts of daily living worthwhile.  (Rosenfield, 2002, p. 2)

I think this definition supports what is written in the “Psychopathology Defined in Context” because in this document one requirement of mental health is “being able to function comfortably on a day-to-day basis”.  I understand these definitions to mean that a person who is mentally healthy will be able to progress in life within what is understood to be normal limits.  They will not have any extreme stressors that cause them to stop their mental growth because they will be able to deal with any stressors they come across productively.

This document also mentions four dimensions in which to look at mental health.  In taking a look at these dimensions, and an article from the Mayo Clinic titled, Mental health: What’s normal, what’s not, I was able to identify and recognize them.  The dimension of comfort and discomfort are, when you are comfortable, your behaviors, feelings, and thoughts are within what is considered ‘normal range’.  Excessive behaviors such as cleaning even when there is nothing to clean, or feelings that don’t seem to go away would make a person uncomfortable.  Another example of discomfort would be abnormal thoughts.  Abnormal thoughts would include believing something is controlling you, or considering killing yourself.

The next dimension mentioned in the document is efficiency and inefficiency.  All of the actions mentioned above would also demonstrate this dimension.  If the symptoms are severe enough or uncomfortable enough they would disrupt any kind of routine a person has in place, thus, causing everything to take longer or to not happen at all.

The third dimension is potential and actual.  The disruption of a mental illness causes any potential growth to cease.  Many times the person does not realize this and believes things are very different than what is actually happening.  The person’s perception is often a key factor in determining the correct treatment.

The final dimension is acculturation and bizarreness.  When a person’s behavior becomes disruptive or is considered to be out of the norm, other people’s perceptions can be used to help determine what diagnosis is appropriate.  This could be useful when the person does not see anything wrong with the way they are behaving.

Hopefully this quick look at the different dimensions of mental health will aid in the search for information on this topic.

References

Rosenfield, Paul J.; Stuart J. Eisendrath. “Mental Health.” Encyclopedia of Public Health.The Gale Group Inc. 2002. Retrieved September 02, 2009 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404000537.html

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). “Mental health: What’s normal, what’s not.” Retrieved September 02, 2009 from MayoClinic.com: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mental-health/MH00042

Practical Application of Theory


What are some ways that a development theory could be useful to you in the field of work you are interested in?  What about your personal life?  What do you want a theory to tell you?  What specific problems should/could a theory help you solve?

The adoption of one or more developmental theories could have significant implications on implementation of real world therapy practices.  Our theoretical worldview has the potential to bias our views of developmental change and the antecedents that drive that change.  Will the therapist sitting across from you attribute your current situation to biological antecedents?  Is nature responsible for (insert any psychological condition here)?  Or, instead, will your therapist choose to focus on the environmental and societal factors that have influenced your personal developmental trajectory?  Before any of us engage a therapist, or any of us engage in the practice of therapy, we should consider the theoretical underpinnings that form the foundation of our helping professionals’ worldview.  Obviously there’s a good reason why individual therapists choose the theories they do… conscious consumers should not be afraid to ask for the reason.

When change occurs in my personal life, I usually attribute it to entropy.  The illusion of being able to control my environment is tempting to say the least, but I believe self realization comes as a result of accepting that you have little or no control over the sequence and timing of developmental change.  For me, clinical counseling represents a vehicle by which individuals learn to control reactions to a constantly changing chaotic world.  My goal for all of my clients, and for myself, is to be able to embrace change and employ it as a springboard to drive structural, functional, and behavioral growth.  To me, it’s almost irrelevant as to whether it is “governed by nature (i.e., genetics, maturation or biological structures) or nurture (i.e., child rearing methods, cultural values, planned learning experiences, unplanned life events).” (Bergen, 2008, p. 3)  Regardless of the governance, the reality is that we have the opportunity to change tomorrow by acting today.

As I continue to process and refine my own theoretical perspective on human development, my expectation is that the theory provides individuals I serve with an outcome that can be predicted with reasonable certainty.  For example, if we engage dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) I should be able to predict with reasonable certainty that you will experience an increase in mindfulness.  If DBT fails to produce that result, I am content to attribute that failure to individual variability… to me, it doesn’t much matter if it’s nature or nurture… so long as we identify the point of failure and try again (this time modified to fit the individualized participant).  Perhaps we could integrate religious and metaphysical concepts into the effort to increase the traction of our DBT efforts.  Or, perhaps we will go in a parallel direction and focus more on interpersonal effectiveness or emotion regulation since they are contributing factors to the overall efficacy of DBT?  Maybe we abandon DBT altogether and take another angle?  The options are endless… but a theory some provide some direction, some purpose, to the decisions that are made in that process.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) meets all of my expectations for a theoretical construct.  ABA is committed to resolving real world issues not theoretical quandaries.  Practical importance is at the forefront of my interest.  ABA focuses on the behavior that needs improvement, not just any behavior.  Good results must be measurable, conceptually systematic, and able to be replicated.  Finally, a good theory must possess generality of the in the respect that it lasts over time and it appears in environments other than the one in which… it was implemented.  (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007, p. 18)

As a sidebar…

Does anyone out there have any real world examples of entrainment?  (juxtaposition of one or more systems to form new combinations)

What strategies do you use to ensure you are employing “activated knowledge” as defined by Bergen (2008) on page 33?

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References

Bergen, D. (2008). Human development: Traditional and contemporary theories. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.