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Philosophical orientation and Counsellor performance

Judd (1999) conducted an investigation into the subjective experience of Counselling Psychologists with regard to personal philosophical beliefs and the perceived theoretical orientation of their training and practice environments. Citing Ames (1968) it was asserted that '...individual counselor philosophical positions do, in fact, make a difference in the counselor's performance of his [or her] work.' Judd therefore argued that if counselling training was incongruent with a trainee's personal philosophical orientation then performance might be impaired. The Philosophical Beliefs Inventory developed by Ames demonstrated some limitations, Sawyer (1971), and Ryan and Butzow (1973) sought to determine the relationship between PBI scores and counselling practice. Given the research findings Judd concluded that, '...the counsellor's "philosophical behaviour" could be described as either realist, idealist or some combination of pragmatism, existentialism and phenomenology.' However, Judd felt that these philosophical constructs did not clearly ally with the dominant theoretical perspectives promoted within the discipline of counselling psychology.

Judd therefore developed the 'Counselling Orientation Scale' (COS scale) to identify different philosophical beliefs associated with specific counselling psychology theoretical perspectives. Respondents included one hundred and seventy one Chartered Counselling Psychologists whose names were selected from the British Psychological Society (BPS) Register. The emergent factors included:
  1. Systemic
  2. Cognitive Behavioural
  3. Transpersonal
  4. Humanistic
Comparing Counselling Orientation and Philosophical Beliefs

Subsequently the refined COS scale was administered concurrently with the Integration/Alienation (I/A) scale, [developed by Judd (1985)] to a further seventy five Counselling Psychologists (BPS registered) and a second group of trainee Counselling Psychologists (BPS listed). Respondent's scores on the respective factors of each scale were then compared. The initial aim was to see if there were any any significant correlations between factors scores on the respective scales. The results were then considered in light of respondents' personal philosophical orientation, theoretical training and coaching model/s applied in practice.

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Judd reported that, 'There was a significant correlation at the 0.05 level between Systemic (SYS) and Humanistic (HUM) factor scores. Significant correlations were also recorded between SYS and the factor Socially Orientated (SOCOR) on the Integration/Alienation (I/A) scale at the 0.05 level as well as HUM versus Socially Dominated (SOCDOM) at the 0.01 level. It was also noted that the factors Self-alienated (SELFAL) versus ANGER correlated significantly at the 0.01 level.' (p.34)

Judd also obtained self-ratings of respondents' perceptions of their organization, training establishment, professional body and personal approach to counselling on the scale items "expert technician" and "meeting between two human beings." Judd reported that, 'significant correlations were recorded between SYS, Self-Humanistic (SELFHUM) and Training-Humanistic (TRAINHUM) and between the COS factor cognitive Behavioural (CB) and perception factors Self-expert (SELFEXP), Organization-Expert (ORGEXP) and Training-Expert (TRAINEXP) at the 0.01 level. However, only the SYS factor correlated significantly with Professional Body-Expert (PBEXP) at the 0.05 level.' (p.34)

Judd also investigated whether '...individual variables might be contributing substantially to the variance.' ANOVA between groups identified on the Multi-scale questionnaire were therefore conducted...Only the female group score was significant versus the I/A factor socially Dependent (SOCDEP) at the 0.05 level and the younger age group score was significant at the 0.05 level versus the factor SOCDOM.

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Judd first notes that the '...emergence of discrete factors [on the COS scale] would seem to suggest that alternative orientations to counselling practice are apparent in the two samples' [Systemic, Cognitive Behavioural, Transpersonal and Humanistic.] It is also noted that '...certain orientations correlate significantly with respondents perceptions concerning the orientation of organizations and structures within the counselling "world" and subjective experience.' Further, '...it can be seen that the systemic factor correlates significantly with Humanistic and Socially Orientated factors and that this group perceives itself and the training establishment as of "equal human beings" orientation. In contrast the Cognitive Behavioural group perceive their training, practice and self as of "expert technician" orientation. Although a few respondents commented that the perception scale was misleading, in that it suggested "expert technician" was opposite to "a meeting between equal human beings", the results seem to suggest that these two orientations to counselling practice are perceived as opposed by the majority. (pp. 37-38)

With regard to subjective experience '...the HUM factor...did correlate significantly with...Society Dominated at the 0.01 level [on the I/A scale]. Perusing the scale items of this factor there is perhaps a sense of "struggling" for personal power against a "dominant social world". If the "world" is perceived thus then the idea of self-actualization would seem congruent. Considering the significant correlation between SYS and HUM the link might reflect the significance of the scale item; 'It is important to consider the broader social and cultural environments of the client'...The only other notable significant correlation is between SELFAL and ANGER. This is consistent with results obtained during construction of the I/A scale.' (p.40)

©1999 Linton Judd

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