A Theorists PerspectiveAsa practitioner evaluates treatment options for clients, consideration of thetheory is of upmost importance for maintaining consistency and fluidity of thetreatment. Differing theories wouldindicate different methods of communicating with a client and how to interpretprogress for the client. Of the varioustheories, Adler, Jung, Sullivan, and Object Relations Theory all have differentapproaches to the various concerns of the client and thus would lead todifferent treatment modalities. How thetheory applies to the client’s concerns and the various impacts this may haveon the treatment plan will be further discussed. Priorto a client beginning therapy, the practitioner must also consider the culturalimplications that might impact treatment.
This understanding aids in choosing the theory to base the treatmentmodality. When we see the client as a 19year-old Chinese male, we must consider the possibility of cultural influences. If Joe has grown up in a traditionalChinese home, it is possible, given his age, that he has been lead to believethat, “adolescence has limited meaning in most Asian cultures becauseindividuation carries little value and seeking a definition of self outside thefamily is not encouraged” (Kramer, Kwong, Lee, Chung, 2002, pg 229). So the practitioner must ask cultural specificquestions to gain an understanding of Joe’s perspective and what his potentialtreatment outcome goals he might need. Onetheory to consider would be that of Adler. Adler postulated in his psychoanalyticapproach that anxiety and depression might be the result of feeling inferior insome way.
When considering this theory,life is goal oriented though occupation/work, society/friendship, andlove/sexuality. Looking at harmonizingthe goals would increase the mental health of the person. Being the first-bornchild in this family has a meaningful impact when using this theory. As the first-born more attention would begiven and with the introduction of additional siblings Joes strive to re-gainthe attention is lost as he is now attending to his mother and his father isnot around. The genesis of the statementthat he doesn’t seem good enough could be because he feels inferior since hisfather will not maintain a constant presence in his life. If Joe’s family subscribed to the culturaltraditions he may be looking to find meaning in his life when his discoveringhis sense of self outside the family is discouraged. This can create some very confusing emotionswithin Joe and may the root of his anxiety and depression.
This would also helpexplain the anger towards his father. Asa practitioner adopting this theory some prevention strategies may beconsidered to help maintain the level of anxiety and then ultimately decreasethe anxiety and depression by promoting social interests and developing a senseof belonging. This must be done while respecting Joe’s cultural expectations.
Adler suggested assumptions that could be made regarding personality. Amongthese assumptions are the ideas of people striving for purpose in life, a senseof belonging, the mind and body working together. Though these serve asguidelines for treatment goals, this theory is difficult to research. “Assumptions in and of themselves cannot betested, because they provide the underlying basis on which postulates arederived and then tested.
When the data are unclear, theory and the basicassumptions underlying that theory are the only guidelines for therapeuticdecision making” (Maniacci,Carlson, & Sackett-Maniacci, 2017, p. 98). Making ethical and legal decisions forclients, practitioners must strive to use research-based practices. This is adifficult task with Adler’s theory so the practitioner must strive to staywithin the loose structure of the theory when treating clients.
CarlJung is another theorist that a practitioner could consider. Jung postulatedthat cultural had significant implications upon personality. When looking atmental health concerns in a traditional Chinese family the practitioner mustconsider,Inthe traditional belief system, mental illnesses are caused by a lack of harmonyof emotions or, sometimes, by evil spirits. Mental wellness occurs whenpsychological and physiologic functions are integrated. Some elderly AsianAmericans share the Buddhist belief that problems in this life are most likelyrelated to transgressions committed in a past life. In addition, our previouslife and our future life are as much a part of the life cycle as our presentlife (Kramer, Kwong, Lee, Chung, 2002, pg 228).This consideration is further shapedby Jung’s ideas of archetypes.
Discovering how a male assuming the archetypalresponsibilities of the female may prevent harmony within Joe. Joe may bemotivated by past experiences and expectations of the future. It is possiblethat in the five years that Joe was apart of a ‘typical’ family structure hewas secure in his position within the family. Joe then experienced seven yearswithout his father and could have assumed the traditional male role in thefamily only to have this change again upon his father’s return. The return ofhis father changed Joe’s role again with now being the big brother and thenlater, the caregiver of both his mother and his siblings. If Joe truly is motivated by past experiencesand this guides his expectations of the future, it is possible that the flux ofhis growth has left him confused. Additionally, “another important aspect ofJung’s theory is his emphasis on how people struggle with opposing forceswithin them. For example, there is the struggle between the face or mask wepresent to others, represented in the archetype of the persona, and the privateor personal self” (Cervone & Pervin, 2017, pg 122).
When potentially conflicted between theperson he wants to be and the position he is in with his family he coulddevelop these feelings of anxiety and depression. Additionally, developmentally speaking, Joewould be ending his childhood, and beginning the desire to start his ownfamily; this may conflict with his current situation. A Jung based practitioner would desire to helpJoe to seek out a sense of self, within the confines of cultural expectations,and help him develop a sense of future expectations. Ethical and legal considerations would also bea part of treatment planning. Jung’stheory is difficult to research, as it cannot withstand falsification, solimited research-based practices are available. The practitioner would have tobe cautious about assuming cultural expectations and tradition as much of Jung’stheory is centered on the collective unconscious and the importance of culturalinfluence. Adifferent theory to consider is that of Harry Stack Sullivan. Much of Sullivan’s theory was the importanceof influences during pre-adolescence that significantly impacted thedevelopment of personality.
Specifically, “the juvenile era and preadolescence.During the juvenile stage-roughly the grammar school years- a child’sexperiences with friends and teachers begin to rival the influence of his orher parents (Cervone & Pervin, 2017, pg 126-127). During this time Joe wasexperiencing some home difficulties that may have impacted his interpersonalrelationships and development of his self-esteem. This self-esteem would serve him later in hisability to navigate interpersonal relationships without anxiety or lingeringfeelings of depression. In Joe’s later years, the “relationship of a closefriendship, of love, forms the basis for the development of a love relationshipwith a person of the opposite sex during adolescence (Cervone & Pervin,2017, pg 127).
As a practitioner of Sullivan’s theory, one must consider ifthese developmental needs were met during this time, as he was the primarycaretaker of his mother and two siblings for the past five years. This couldhave impacted his ability to develop and maintain these relationships, thusimpacting his personality development. Additionally, the mother plays a significant role in personalitydevelopment. The practitioner can learna great deal by asking Joe about his relationship with his mother prior to hercar accident to ascertain his capacity for developing meaningful interpersonalrelationships. Also, if Joe did have asecure relationship with his mother, the practitioner could then hypothesis,based on Sullivan’s theory, that Joe is experiencing anxiety because he isperusing the childhood wish for security. Unknown is also Joe’s ability to escape his anxiety as the primarycaretaker and his mother and siblings. Sullivan would have supported developing an interpersonal relationshipwith Joe to increase his skill and comfort with interpersonalrelationships. While utilizing thistheory to develop methodology, the practitioner should look at ethicalimplications.
Joe’s culture could have implications in regards to hisdevelopment of interpersonal relationships. Where Sullivan theorized theinfluence of the mother/child relationship, this may not hold the same impactwith the gender roles of Joe’s culture. Additionally, as Sullivan was ‘practicefocused’ as opposed to ‘academic focused’ there is limited research regardinghis theory. Additionally, Sullivan’stheory is difficult to withstand falsification and the lack of testing validitydecreases his theory’s use as a practical guide for treatment modalities.Sullivan’s theory of personality development does raise some excellentquestions about Joe’s ability to develop interpersonal relationships and howthis impacts his anxiety and depression and anger towards his father. Anothertheory to consider is Object Relations Theory.
“According toobject relations theory, beginning during infancy, people develop”internal representations” of themselves and of other people.Representations of the self ultimately give rise to what is popularly known asthe “self-concept”” (Hoermann, Zupanik & Dombek, n.d., para.2).
If Joe was struggling with hisself-concept as could be seen by his indication that he is not goodenough. The development ofpersonality, in relation to Object Relations theory, the sense of self is developedin relation to others. The practitioner should consider that Joe’s relationshipwith his father might have influenced his personality development. If Joeexpresses a drive to get out of his current situation this could bring himcloser to being like his father and this dissention could be the cause of theanxiety and depression. Additionally, thistheory postulates that the mother-infant relationship has major implications onpersonality formation and the mother is the first object that is internalized.
The practitioner using this theory would needto ask Joe about his relationship with his mother prior to the accident. Thiswould also include questions about how he perceived his identity when he was apart of an in tact family until the age of five and then how his dynamic withhis mother changed. Unfortunately, Joe’smother is unavailable to discuss bonding during infancy so this would bedifficult for the Object Relations practitioner to assess. Much of this theorywas contrived with a developed family unit with a present mother and father.Joe appears to have had this family structure for the first five years and thensporadically in the years that follow. Inrelation to brain functioning, this theory has led to some recent researchusing scientific advances. Cervone (2017) report, “the brain systems that play the key roles in attachmentare likely to be the same ones that are key to human emotions” (pg.
133). The practitioner guided by this theory wouldtry to ascertain how Joe’s attachment with his mother. This process would thenallow for the opportunity to discover how these early interpersonalrelationships have affected his sense of self. The practitioner would attempt transference to help Joe interpret hisinterpersonal relationships and how this has guided his way of relating to theworld around him (Cervone & Pervin, 2017). Additionally, cultural norms and expectations were not considered duringthe development of this theory so the practitioner would have to consider this;as well as gender roles and expectations. If the practitioner is female, shemay have difficulty with Joe accepting the interpretations of the practitioneras traditional gender roles in Chinese culture might impact this process.
When looking at additional ethicalimplications of this theory, the ability to use scientific research to testboth brain functioning and behavior increases the practitioners chance to useresearch-based methodologies with Joe. Thereare various theories that a practitioner should consider prior to entering acounseling relationship with a client. Acareful examination of the culture, family structure and expectations from thecounseling process among other things can help guide the practitioner intomaking best practice decisions for their clients.
When the theory helps deterine the methodologyof the counseling practice, the practitioner can provide a structure to theprocess and can understand both the legal and ethical implications. References Cervone, D.,& Pervin, L. A.
(2017). Personality:theory and research. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Hoermann,S., Zupanick, C. E., & Dombek, M. (n.
d.). Object Relations Theory ofPersonality Disorders. Retrieved January 11, 2018 fromhttps://www.gulfbend.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=41560&cn=8 Kramer, E.
J., Kwong, K., Lee, E., & Chung,H.
(2002). Cultural factors influencing the mental health of AsianAmericans. Western Journal of Medicine, 176(4),227–231. Maniacci,M.
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