My plan is to specialize in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). I like the concept of direct and frequent measurement of variables that can me quantitatively or qualitatively measured. I like the transparency of the ABA discipline. “Everything about ABA is visible and public, explicit and straightforward… ABA entails no ephemeral, mystical, or metaphysical explanations; there are no hidden treatments; there is no magic.” (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007, p. 18-19) ABA is committed to resolving real world issues not theoretical quandaries. It’s sensible, it’s practical, and it’s in demand. ABA focuses on the behavior that needs improvement, not just any behavior. Good results are 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 observed. ABA relies on operant conditioning with the fundamental assumption being that behavior is a function of its consequences. I intend to make use of positive and negative reinforcement, token economies, extinction, and stimulus control. I’m not ready to rule out cognitive processed entirely because I want to keep an open stance, but right now, I am “all in” with ABA (more specifically, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), role-playing, behavioral observation, guided imagery. If there’s anything I don’t like about ABA, it’s the measure of control that is required to do it right… I would like to soften that requirement a bit and do observation in a more natural setting… the inpatient clinical environment is too artificial to get good measurements or results that can be generalized.
I really enjoy reading Carl Jung despite the fact that he has fallen out of favor with many of the movers and shakers in psychology. Conceptually speaking it is a lot different than ABA, but I see some synergy there that is untapped. Specifically, I really buy the concept of Enantiodromia. “This word refers to Heraclitus’ law that everything sooner or later turns into its opposite.” (Corsini & Wedding, 2011, p. 123) Please forgive the lack of a citation because it comes from memory… but Carl Jung said “the word happiness would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” It’s a concept I will never forget, so, I’d like to learn more about Carl Jung and Analytical Psychotherapy. The only part I don’t like about Analytical Psychotherapy that is it’s not as practical as “brief therapy” techniques that are more pragmatic. Realistically, how often am I going to get the opportunity to go 20 sessions + with someone with EAP and managed care looming around the corner? Not often, I suppose. It’s more likely to be the croutons on my metaphorical presentation salad, there’s too much meat and too many vegetarians to serve Analytical Psychotherapy as the main course in 22nd Century counseling. It’s still an intriguing option nonetheless, one that I will definitely continue to read whether it’s assigned or not… it interests me.
I would have put existential therapy at the top of the list if it were a legitimate “stand alone” school of therapy. I really enjoy the duality and the conflict involved in relativism. I like shooting for the moon… talking about the BIG PROBLEMS (Death, The Meaning of Life, etc). I really like that it is more person centered and holistic, as compared to reductionist (like ABA). I like the idea of creating meaning for people… love, marriage, family, religion, etc. (Corsini & Wedding, 2011, p. 340) I would, however, like to bring it back down to earth, if you will… it’s a bit “out there” sometimes.
My last choice would have to be Cognitive Therapy for no other reason that it is so dominant in the field right now. It seems to be the tool of choice for most people, I don’t suspect we will have any difficulty finding someone to write on this one. I like the concept of guided discovery, and I am particularly drawn to cognitive restructuring as it relates to phobias, OCD, and eating disorders. If I had a problem with cognitive therapy at all, it’s that everyone is doing it… and while I can hardly afford to neglect it, CBT just doesn’t “excite me” like the opportunity to measure behavior. Mostly a personal preference I suppose.
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Corsini, R. J., & Wedding, D. (2011). Current psychotherapies (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.