This paper presents the personal viewpoints of the author concerning human behavior, affect, and thought. It outlines his understanding of the developmental and change processes of human growth. Therapy and roles and relationships are considered along with treatment. This paper’s topics are numerous as very different questions are addressed and my answers will be about my views as they relate mainly to theory I hope to apply in therapy. It is presented in question and answer form with an introduction and summary. Research Paper
Behavior, affect, and thought are derived from a diverse set of factors that are sometimes inter-related. One’s views on these three types of human processes has an effect on which theoretical orientation a counselor is most aligned with and therefore chooses as a baseline for counseling practice. This choice is important in that it helps the counselor to organize thoughts and modes of counseling session interactions, preferred techniques, and treatment options in a consistent manner. Such a choice does not limit the counselor in any way to any one theoretical practice.
A counselor must be cognizant of other treatment modalities and ready to apply those modalities to specific counseling situations and clients based on a variety of factors such as cultural background of the client, family structure, and personality traits of the client. Consideration of environment, diagnoses, and cognitive abilities of the client among other issues are also important. Behavior consists of conscious and unconscious observable acts performed by an individual in response to his or her environment.
Thoughts are cognitive processes involving self-talk, rationalizations, imagination/creativity, calculations, schemes, and judgments to name a few. Affect is how we present ourselves to ourselves and others in body language, choice of words, expressions of emotion and fluidity of motion and the degree to which actions match emotions. These definitions are personal inferences from similar definitions found in the Online Merriam-Webster dictionary (2012. ) The following questions and answers reflect the views of the author: Questions and Answers: What guides or influences human behavior, affect and thought?
The aspects of human behavior, affect, and thought are influenced by a variety of sources. I will consider each aspect separately. Behavior. Human behavior can be viewed as the by-product of a conglomeration of inputs from various sources in life. Behavior can be conscious or unconscious. Unconscious behavior is driven by factors such as inner drives such as survival of the self and species stemming from the id, parts of the superego where authoritarian “voices” guide our decisions, and even the sub-conscious part of the ego that helps keep the id from reigning wildly, habits and biological processes.
Conscious behavior can also stem from biological processes. Biological processes such as physical limitations and mental illness are a determining factor in our behavior. In any case, when we are conscious of our acts, there are many possible reasons for the way we act. Each time we behave in any manner, we are making an active choice to do so. What we know about how to get what we want is also a factor in determining our behavior. But what determines our choices? Certainly conditioning plays a role. Exposure to the media of the day and all its overt and covert messages has an effect.
Our personality, grown from interactions with our environment since birth, has an impact on what we choose to do. How we perceive the intentions of others also comes into play. The influence of friends and other acquaintances in the various circles in our lives especially during the adolescent period when teens look to members of various crowds that they affiliate with and emulate their behaviors has a verifiable impact on behavior. Whether or not we are altruistic determines to a point what we choose to do.
Even then, what we choose to do and how we behave, is a product of our own desires. When our desires are at play, what we do is a result of either immediate desires or ultimate desires. You may ultimately desire to be healthy at a reasonable weight for your height yet routinely choose to eat foods that will not give you those results because you want to satisfy an immediate urge for sweets. Likewise, other addictions such as alcoholism, smoking, drug addictions, and behavioral addictions can have a significant effect on behavior.
Our emotions play an important role in behavior. We are likely to react to emotions in ways that we have learned to do so from our past experiences. Love is a particularly strong emotion that throws us into a flurry of sometimes seemingly irrational behavior. There is also a sort of inertia that can keep us playing the same “tapes” over and over again. What causes behavior is related to many environmental, both internal and external, factors. I believe that a healthy lifestyle of proper nutrition and exercise can lead to more profoundly healthy behavior.
Socioeconomic status can result in changed behavior, take for example a poor, struggling individual who suddenly wins the lottery; although not a sure determinant for changed behavior, something like that certainly has the potential to be a factor for changed behavior. In the end, rewards are the driving force of behavior. We will behave in a way that gets us what we want, whether it is an immediate desire or an ultimate desire. Will power comes into play when we have to set aside immediate gratification of desires for ultimate achievement of goals.
Affect. Affect is influenced by our emotions. It is in fact the expression of our emotions. It is how we present ourselves in facial gestures, body positioning and movements and language. It is how we express ourselves, whether it is a true reflection of our feelings or not. Our self-image can affect our affect. Physical limitations as well as mental illnesses are also determinant issues in affect. Our environment influences affect as well. Where we are and who we are with play a major role in our affect expression.
We are able to express ourselves differently in different situations, for example, at a play, at home relaxed, at a concert, and in counseling to name a few situations. Our knowledge, about a topic of conversation or work we are doing may affect how we go about being more or less involved. Health, status, pride, ethnicity and culture may have an effect as well. Thought. Thoughts are affected by many factors. Sometimes we have automatic thoughts that intrude into our consciousness, for some more than others. Our mood can affect the type of thoughts we have.
Again, health, both physical and mental can have a profound effect on our thoughts. Medications are determining factors quite frequently in cognitive ability. Even nutrition, exercise, and available energy are relevant factors. A headache can be limiting. What we already know, i. e. experience, schooling, reading experiences, whether or not we keep up with current events all guide our subsequent thinking processes. Our environments that we are in at the time have a guiding influence on the type and extent of our concentration and creativity in thought.
How aware we are of our surroundings can lead to more or less pertinent and intense thought processes. Our own cognitive abilities, whether they are due to our age/maturity level or brain abilities are also important. Our interests, abilities (i. e. are we creative minded or math minded or both, etc…) determine the types of things we think about and our abilities in thinking about them. How perceptive we are and what we do perceive lends to subsequent relevant thoughts. Our biases/prejudices instilled by our upbringing affects our thoughts.
Exposure to thought provoking situations and people can stimulate thought into an active and growing process. Our beliefs about life and death and religion and politics are all contributors to what, why, when, where, and how we think. Life events such as major milestone achievements, successes, failures, and traumas are very influential. Lastly, our fears or phobias can lead us into a fray of thoughts. How do humans develop healthily? Healthy development starts with genetics and the well-being of parents. This follows with the pre-natal term when the mother to be takes the best care of herself an unborn child.
She takes pre-natal vitamins, exercises, gets good nutrition and receives regular medical attention. Having authoritative parents being both empathetic (warm) and demanding is the best for child development. Inter-active, knowledgeable, experienced parents and exposure to social situations where a variety of friends are available are good environmental helps to attain healthy human development. Structure and a challenging environment are also important. The availability of acceptable or superior educational opportunities is very helpful as well.
Proper health care, nutrition, exercise and medications, when needed, are also conducive to good health. Restrictions on what a child is exposed to are needed when you think about violence and disasters in the media. Also, monitoring the use of the online environment is necessary in this day and age. Training in etiquette and socially acceptable norms helps a child develop into a well-rounded adult. Unfortunately, most of us are lacking in exposure to some of these and most unfortunately, some are lacking in most if not all of these.
What processes can derail healthy human development? The absence of any of the things mentioned in the previous question will derail healthy human development from reaching its best potential. Trauma, whether it be physical, emotional or sexual will have a very adverse and long-standing effect on development. Neglect can form long-lasting adverse effects on development. Sometimes the effects can be minimized through counseling, especially when introduced early on, but the scars remain throughout a human’s life.
Biological elements such as birth defects and other physical conditions whether obtained through birth or later in life can slow or stop healthy development in one or more categories. What are the purposes of therapy and what are its generic desired outcomes? The purpose of therapy as I see it is to help an individual to help themselves in overcoming the effects of undesirable situations, the limits of restrictive conditions, whether they are mental or physical, and to be able to cope more effectively in their environments.
Specific groups can be very helpful in dealing with situations such as grief, divorce, single parenting, etc… Sometimes a client needs to explore who they are and where they are going. This is especially helpful during times of maturational change. Therapy can help people relieve anxiety or deal with phobias and compulsions/obsessions. Therapy can help an individual discover for themselves the answers to their many questions. Sometimes they need to learn how to interact with others in a more socially acceptable manner. Psycho-educational therapy can be helpful in these situations.
What is the role of the client? A client should be familiar with their own health issues such as history, current medications, insurance and allergies and also should be pro-active in participating in selection of health care providers. Although an informed consent form should be discussed with them, it would be optimal if a client was aware that this would be part of their counseling in the first place. They should be interested in the theoretical orientation of their proposed therapist and decide if possible if that would be a good match for them.
Clients are responsible for making appointments on time or letting the therapist know when changes must be made. Clients are also responsible for their part of the payment for services when applicable. Clients should endeavor to be as honest as they feel comfortable being in the proper time frame. It is expected that clients may not be totally forthcoming at first until a relationship is built with the therapist. Also some clients may not be able to identify the exact nature of issues involved in their therapy but should be willing to try and uncover any underlying aspects of their situation.
Also, sometimes “homework” is assigned in therapy. Clients should try to work on their issues in between sessions as well. It is also helpful if the client has a lifelong goal of continuously improving themselves. Obviously, some clients are not receiving counseling under totally voluntary circumstances and that might present a problem with the client being forthcoming. What is the role of the therapist? The therapist’s role is more complex. The therapist must first have the proper training and licensing and should have insurance as well. He/she must abide by their organization’s (i.e. ACA) guidelines and relevant ethical principles..
The therapist must be aware of his/her own issues, culture, beliefs, etc… and limitations as well. The therapist should introduce himself/herself and prepare an informed consent outlining expectations for both the therapist and the client during the counseling sessions and providing for confidentiality issues. The therapist must maintain a professional relationship that is also warm and empathetic in as much as his/her theoretical orientation calls for and as far as the client’s circumstances require.
He/she should remember to help the client help themselves and refrain from giving advice. The therapist must be aware of and utilize appropriate means to help a client identify their own issues such as using open-ended questions to encourage maximum response. The therapist shall never engage in a relationship with a client that goes beyond their professional arrangement. Albeit, there may be times in a more suburban environment where social/community activities in a small town cross some boundaries, the therapist will act to minimize any conflict of interest.
The therapist must work with other professionals to provide an all-encompassing treatment arena in areas concerning the client’s mental health. The therapist is responsible to keep records of sessions for his/her own reference and for insurance and legal issues too remembering to keep intact the conditions of confidentiality whenever possible. There are times when a counselor must breach confidentiality but these times should be explained to the client in advance such as when the client has intentions to hurt himself/herself or others intentionally.
What is the role of the therapeutic relationship? The therapeutic relationship is the first and single most important aspect of therapy. A warm and empathetic contact must be made with the client. It has been argued that this is more important than even technique: Perhaps one of the strongest advocates of the importance of the therapeutic relationship in the change process was Carl Rogers. In an early statement, Rogers (1951) argued for the importance of the relationship over technique.
Citing the Fiedler (1950) study that indicated that experienced therapists working within different orientations were more similar than were inexperienced therapists, Rogers maintained that it was the therapists’ affirmation of the client that produced therapeutic change, suggesting that “the client moves from the experiencing of himself as an unworthy, unacceptable, and unlovable person to the realization that he is accepted, respected, and loved, in this limited relationship with the therapist. . .
As the client experiences the attitude of the acceptance which the therapist holds toward him, he is able to take and experience this same attitude toward himself” (pp. 159–160). Perhaps one of the strongest advocates of the importance of the therapeutic relationship in the change process was Carl Rogers. In an early statement, Rogers (1951) argued for the importance of the relationship over technique. Citing the Fiedler (1950) study that indicated that experienced therapists working within different orientations were more similar than were
inexperienced therapists, Rogers maintained that it was the therapists’ affirmation of the client that produced therapeutic change, suggesting that “the client moves from the experiencing of himself as an unworthy, unacceptable, and unlovable person to the realization that he is accepted, respected, and loved, in this limited relationship with the therapist. . . as the client experiences the attitude of the acceptance which the therapist holds toward him, he is able to take and experience this same attitude toward himself” (pp. 159–160). Goldfried, Marvin R.& Davila, Joanne (2005)
Gestalt therapy has seen a change toward noting the importance of the therapeutic relationship as well: In more recent years, Gestalt therapists have acknowledged the importance of a good therapeutic relationship and have incorporated it into their technique-oriented approach. An example of this is the process-experiential approach to therapy by Greenberg and his associates (e. g. , Elliott et al. , 2004; Greenberg & Paivio, 1997), which involves an integration of person-centered and gestalt therapies. Goldfried, Marvin R.
& Davila, Joanne (2005) In more recent years, Gestalt therapists have acknowledged the importance of a good therapeutic relationship and have incorporated it into their technique-oriented approach. An example of this is the process-experiential approach to therapy by Greenberg and his associates (e. g. , Elliott et al. , 2004; Greenberg & Paivio, 1997), which involves an integration of person-centered and gestalt therapies. Goldfried, Marvin R. & Davila, Joanne (2005) What creates change; that is, what is the central growth, change or healing process?
Once a firm and good therapeutic relationship is established, the client must fully understand the nature of his/her issue, decide if there is a need to change and then be willing to change. Thereafter, the therapist continues to listen and allows the client to explore the various avenues for change while interjecting, at appropriate times, questions to develop a well-rounded approach to available alternatives and uses appropriate techniques from his/her theoretical orientation, or those borrowed from other orientations as it suits the client and his/her particular circumstances to facilitate the changes required.
Resolution of blocks to understanding the self, or getting “unstuck” on feelings not fully expressed or processed must generally be accomplished to move past debilitating circumstances in order to make way for new ways of coping with life issues. What aspects of the client need to be considered? A therapist should ask and know about the client any relevant information to help with the counseling process.
Among these are the ethnicity/culture, marital status, children and their ages, original family structure and birth order, employment, medical and life history, primary presenting problem if known, circles the client operates in such as friends, social organizations, etc…, mental health issues, the client’s personality as it is revealed in counseling, any upbringing issues such as trauma experienced, parental involvement, sibling issues, etc…, socioeconomic status, race, religion and possibly when they or their ancestors first came to America.
How they deal with emotions and what their general affect is should become apparent with time and is important in the counseling setting. What aspects of the therapist need to be considered? There are a huge multitude of considerations for counselors.
The counselor’s educational background, culture, historical life background, beliefs, theoretical orientation, knowledge of that orientation and other orientations and the techniques used in each, whether or not he/she keeps up with new research and information and is up-to-date with required CEU’s, personal issues such as fears, sensitive subjects, finances, counseling for the counselor when appropriate (I believe it is constantly appropriate), supervision of the counselor, his/her network of peers and support, knowledge of other healthcare and related helpers such as psychiatrists.
PCP’s, social organizations, knowledge of pharmacology, current DSM diagnoses, any medical basis’ for symptoms, a broad referral network, knowing their limitations such as who or what type of client/issue they cannot or will not deal with and having a ready reference for appropriate referrals, knowledge of a variety of cultures, the ability to empathize, knowledge of the community, knowing what works for what type client/issue, effectiveness of therapeutic techniques and theories for particular mental illnesses, adherence to counseling organization guidelines(i. e. ACA), record keeping abilities, willingness to listen and allow client to help themselves, and knowledge of federal, state and local laws and statutes as they apply to counseling to name a few. What makes treatment comprehensive? Attention to biological, behavioral, and cognitive issues, working with other healthcare providers and insurance companies, up-to date information are all issues of concern.
Basically, all of the issues discussed in previous questions and the proper use of appropriate theory/techniques based on the individual personality, cognitive ability, circumstances, and other relevant considerations for the client. And above all, LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN! What other variables need to be considered? Other issues to take into consideration may be religion/spirituality, knowing or believing that God sometimes has a hand in things and they might just work out. Things sometimes happen for a reason. We are all here to learn about ourselves, each other, how to interact with each other and love our fellow man/woman. Some people believe the moon and the stars and constellations have an effect on our behavior.
I am not sure how influential astrology is but the moon does have a proven effect on the tides. We as humans are made up of ninety-something percent water and perhaps the moon affects our internal tides as well and maybe that has an impact on behavior. Therapists must know that no one is any better than anyone else. That goes a long way. Some may be better at doing some things than others but intrinsically, we are each as worthy as the next. A counselor must understand the limitations based on maturity, developmental age, and mental illness of their clients. Application Early on in the course, I took the Selective Theory Sorter-Revised survey
and scored the highest in three Humanistic Theoretical orientations, Fritz Perls’ Gestalt Therapy (15), Victor Frankl’s and Irvin Yalom’s Existential Theory (15), and Carl Rogers’ Person-Centered Therapy (14). I was most surprised by being allied with Existential Theory as some of the concepts involved are contrary to my beliefs and viewpoints. However, I do strongly adhere to some of the other concepts. I was delighted to find Yalom associated with Existential Therapy as I am studying his Curative Factors in Group Counseling class and his ideas make sense to me. I am most intrigued by Gestalt therapy as it begins with the notion that humans are growth oriented (Murdock, 2009.)
Gestalt Therapy emphasizes individual choice and responsibility (Murdock, 2009,) a concept I previously wrote about above. I am particularly interested in Emotion Focused Therapy or Process Experiential Therapy (PET) which emphasizes a collaborative therapy relationship, empathy, and encouraging the client to explore his/her experiences (Murdock, 2009. ) Gestalt therapies are holistic and encourage increased self-responsibility (Halbur & Halbur, 2011.) These facets go along with my own beliefs. Many of the aspects of the therapist that I listed can be identified in Brems (2001. ) This is a very important paper as it has helped me to further reflect on, understand and learn about some issues that my personality, core values, and beliefs most align with.
How then, will I use the conglomerate of this information to not only develop my own theoretical background, but also to help me evaluate where I stand with my own thoughts and feelings? This paper holds the beginnings of what I know to be a life-long journey ahead. Summary Counseling is a very complex issue which extends from the counselor’s life, education, and personality to the particular client and his/her own issues, to the therapeutic relationship, to guidelines, theories, techniques law, medical, insurance and other healthcare issues, to life questions answered and not yet answered and to, hopefully, the resolution of client issues. Most of what I have written has come from my own beliefs and memory of what I have learned. I then found supporting references and cited them. References
Brems, Christiane, (2001), Basic Skills in Psychotherapy and Counseling. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning. ELLIOTT, R. , WATSON, J. C. , GOLDMAN, R. N. , & GREENBERG, L. S. (2004). Learning emotion-focused therapy: The process-experiential approach to change. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. FIEDLER, F. E. (1950). A comparison of therapeutic relationships in psychodynamic, Non-directive and Adlerian therapy. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 14, 436–445. Goldfried, Marvin R. & Davila, Joanne (2005), The Role of Relationship and Technique in Therapeutic Change. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 42, No. 4, 421–430.
GREENBERG, L. S. , & PAIVIO, S. C. (1997). Working with emotions in psychotherapy. New York: Guilford Press. Halbur, Duane & Halbur, Kimberly (2011), Developing Your Theoretical Orientation in Counseling and Psychotherapy (2nd Ed. ). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. Murdock, Nancy L. (2009), Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy: A Case Approach (2nd Ed. ). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. Online Merriam-Webster dictionary, 2012 Encyclopaedia Britannica Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved from: http://www. merriam-webster. com ROGERS, C. R. (1951). Client-centered therapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.