Get High, Drop Out, and Fall In: A Personal Reflection
An individual’s collective experiences, and the manner in which those experiences are responded to, shape the course of one’s life. I was born in India and my family immigrated to the United States when I was young. Though I was raised in a Western culture, my parents maintained Eastern practices of child rearing. Growing up in two distinct cultures led me to become lost in translation. I sought guidance from parents that did not understand the cultural issues I was facing. Social relationships, parent-teacher conferences, sleep-overs, and dating were just a few of the seemingly simple, yet foreign concepts my family struggled to help me understand. On the other hand, counter-cultural social determinants weighed heavily upon me. In an attempt to secure an identity, I chose to affiliate with other misguided youth that were struggling to figure out who they were. Circumstances, coupled with curiosity, propelled me into a decade of substance abuse. Initially, that life seemed to provide an identity; eventually, it stripped away the foundation that was necessary for me to build a productive future upon.
With the help of multiple social supports, I have been sober for over eight years and am now pursing graduate studies. Fortunately, I have grown and learned from the experiences of my life. I have come to realize that my family did the best they could with what they had and knew at the time. Furthermore, I am able to recognize the role alcohol has played in the lives of my family and culture. Alcoholism permeates through multiple generations of my family. The saddest part of this heritability is seeing younger cousins, and teenage nieces and nephews continue this cycle of abuse. Fortunately, some family members have confided in me and have sought guidance for their alcohol related ailments. My recovery has become a beacon of hope for those around me. I have had the privilege to speak to family, friends, co-workers, parents, local churches and sober support organizations regarding the dangers of early substance use. I have been able to turn my past experiences and obstacles into present opportunities.
Seeking a coordinator or case management position that will utilize my skills at assisting clients in successfully navigating systems of care. The ideal social work position will offer diversity and the opportunity for continued professional advancement.
Leveraged multiple community resources to support clinical prevention, primary/after care efforts
Directly collaborated with legal, academic, and medical representatives to promote successful client outcomes
Conducted professional networking, community outreach and education to establish wrap around services
Highly organized at managing large clinical case load
Assessed and placed clients in respective levels of care according to DSM IV criteria
Proficient in documenting client progress from assessment to discharge
Highly skilled and knowledgeable of ASAM dimensions
Effectively facilitated adolescent and adult group counseling sessions
Promoted clinical insight through weekly individual client sessions
Worked with clients and families to establish pro-social home environment
I will first discuss some of the strengths that I believe I have exhibited throughout my time at Argosy. Completing the SSAL assignment, in which I rated the skills that I have acquired while pursuing my degree, gave me the opportunity to objectively reflect on the past three years of learning. I am passionate about the field of psychology and how it can be used to better people’s lives. One of the aptitudes that I believe I was able to develop was that of cultural competency. Being able to see another’s perspective is key if one wishes to be in the helping profession. Providing a context of healing can simply start with an acknowledgement of one’s culture or situation. I also found out that I enjoy reading and learning about the historical aspects of the field of psychology as well as the cutting edge research that is being conducted. Most months I try and listen to an educational audio-book. I also try and read one non-fiction book every three months or so as well. My reading really took off after I had to read Social Intelligence in the Interpersonal Effectiveness class. Because of my time at Argosy I have expanded my love for reading from initially only reading X-men and Spiderman comic books to reading Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr Daniel Amen, to name a few. My time at Argosy has afforded me many opportunities to grow and learn.
My learning process has not been marked with easy acquisition all of the time. There has been much sacrifice and hard work that was involved in reaching this milestone in my life. Some of the weaknesses that I have overcome include my memory problems. I began this degree completion process with many reservations regarding my ability to successfully acquiesce the material. I feared that my past negligence of my body and brain would hinder my learning. I figured out that with repetition, practice and the belief that I can succeed, indeed I was able to succeed. Writing was another stumbling block and in many ways continues to be one. I loathed all the writing that I had to do for my courses. I figured that it was only one teacher or one course that required weekly one to two page papers, a final six page paper, and multiple discussion posts throughout the session, but it turned out that the majority of the courses during the three years of schooling required such a high standard of writing. At first it would take me at least an hour to write a paragraph. Today, with all the practice, I can write nearly two double spaced pages in that same time (first draft of course). I still have room to improve stylistically and grammatically, but I am not afraid of writing today (APA adherence will remain a point of growth and development). In fact, I hope to publish some of the nearly 200 hundred pages I have written while a student at Argosy. Though there have been challenges here at Argosy, I have been able to persevere and grow as a result of not giving up.
Socrates moved the focus of human understanding from without to within. He emphasized one’s inner nature. This was in contrast to pre-Socratic thinkers that sought to identify substances or elements that controlled the nature of one’s being (Argosy, 2010). The term “Know the self” is similar to Socrates final words of the “The unexamined life is not worth living”. Knowing oneself includes understanding the meaning of one’s nature, what motivates and drives one to behave and think in the manner in which they do. Shakespeare echoes Socrates 2 millennia later in his expression “To thine own self be true.” Knowing oneself involves the process of introspection that was pivotal to the Socratic Method.
Imagine what psychotherapy would be like today if Alfred Adler had not opposed Sigmund Freud. We would be left with a deterministic, sexually charged psychoanalysis that fails to consider an individual’s interpersonal strivings. An individual’s socio-humanistic context would be of little to no relevance. We would be isolated with a technician in a room lying on our back, fondling our adolescent fantasies. It is with hope that this paper acknowledges Alfred Adler, an individual who has not only presented a framework for gaining insight into the meaning of life, but has become a harbinger of an approach that has shaped theories as well as individual lives in a positive manner by his willingness to resist conformity. Three main tenants of his theory will be discussed: family constellations/birth order, fictional finalism, and social interest. Focus will also be given to present day relevance of the theory as well as personal resonance.
Cognitive Abilities: Critical Thinking and Information Literacy
WORK SAMPLE 1
Memory: Games That We Play
Memory has several components that could take volumes to fully understand. To help simplify the concept of memory, focus will be placed on three aspects of memory: encoding, storage and retrieval. It is important to note that the complexities of memory systems can not be adequately deconstructed by placing individual focus on any one system. Encoding is directly proportional to retrieval but yet storage stands as a gatekeeper between the two. One of the techniques used to assist encoding is Mnemonics (Terry, 2006). Using strategies such as pegging , key-word associations and acronyms, otherwise hard to remember material becomes accessible from long-term memory (LTM). Other encoding aids such as elaborative rehearsal and encoding specificity , state that repetition and context are important factors in accessing deeper levels of processing and storage.
Cognitive Abilities: Critical Thinking and Information Literacy cont.
WORK SAMPLE 1 cont.
Storage of stimuli goes through a process of encoding short-term memory (STM) into LTM. Working memory (Terry, 2006), another name for STM, encodes stimuli into a storehouse where information is categorized and held until retrieval is necessary. Stimuli are thus encoded into an archival type of LTM that needs to be brought back to the surface. Semantic networks are developed through repetition , priming , and associations Terry, 2006). Key factors such as available space and duration of exposure are predictors of successful consummation of storage. The trick is to be able to retrieve information once it has been encoding into storage. This is where the strategic retrieval cues come into play.
Cognitive Abilities: Critical Thinking and Information Literacy cont
WORK SAMPLE 1 cont.
Understanding constructs of memory allows students to use techniques that aid in comprehension; of special interest are the encoding, storage and retrieval aspects of memory. Utilizing mnemonics to create a pegging or linking system, students could increase retention during the test. Making up a song or rhyme that incorporates the material into mental representations will aid in memorization. Other mnemonic utilization strategies include acronyms and key-word associations. Students could chunk info into smaller units by using first letter mnemonics (acronyms) or pairing personable information that is distinct, relevant and meaningful as word associations. Flash cards are another viable resource for students. Priming and repetition are increased while using flashcards thus aiding in retrieval. Procedural learning (Terry, 2006) techniques coupled with retrieval cues significantly aid in student’s successful testing outcomes.
There are many ways to quantify ones personality and psychological motivations. Some ways to assess these functions is to utilize personality tests. Several types of tests exist. One type of test that can be administered is a self-response inventory. This study chose two on-line versions of personality and response inventory tests. Both tests maintained reliability measures to ensure consistency and scientific standards. Though both tests maintained validity, one clearly implemented supporting questions to strengthen particular outcomes. However, due to the subjective nature of self-response testing, both instruments may not constitute statistically significant results. This writer was appeased by the computer generated descriptions of his personality and resiliency profiles, but will seek a more structured battery of assessment if greater scientific empiricism is warranted.
Standards of care are professionally agreed upon modalities of medical intervention. Usually, these standards are selected through scientific experimentation. To show statistical significance for the use of yoga, this research paper will consider experiments that target biological outcomes such as blood pressure, heart rate and body compensation. Survey and self-report data that was collected from practitioners of yoga will also be presented as a measure of improved functionality for clients diagnosed with psychiatric disorders such as depression or anxiety.
In Gestalt psychology, emphasis is ascribed to holism and perception as a determent of human understanding. What one perceives or how one perceives may be different than what and how others perceive. This perception may not be reminiscent of what is actually being projected, thus causing the interpretation to be different across organisms (King, Viney, & Woody, 2009). One can not simply judge an end result as being ethical or moral. According to Gestalt theory, the whole process constitutes what will be considered good and right. Perception is considered to be a building block of functionality. Perception is involved in determining what is considered right and good, but this determination must be conducted in a holistic context.
It is important to understand human nature in a holistic context-how one got to where they are. There are several outcomes that could be attained by shifting the trajectory of one’s life. This supports the notion that change is fundamental to the process of life. Structural contingencies, known as valances, may direct human nature by prioritizing events and experiences (King, Viney, & Woody, 2009). Human nature may lean toward a desire to organize and understand informational stimuli. The human change process may impact some in an elemental fashion alone. These people may make an attempt to make sense of the parts of the process; whereas, others may start from a whole interpretation and develop transformational methodologies. This may be based on organizational patterns that emerge that are focused on process rather than content. According to Gestalt theorists, human nature is not static but fluid and tends to build upon a priori experiences.
Humanistic systems of psychology were more optimistic than their psychoanalytic counterparts in regard to one’s ethical and moral abilities. Humanists thought people were inherently good or at least capable of positive behavioral expression. Morality was considered to be present within a person and never far from reach. According to Humanists, individuals were capable of ethically self-governing if given the right context (Argosy, 2010). Although humanists also believed as the psychoanalysts, that people possessed evil faculties, they chose to focus on the innate goodness of one’s nature.
Human nature was thought to be driven by ones free-will, and one’s exertion of responsible faculty. Existentialists thought that if one did not exercise their free will responsibly, “evil” outcomes may ensue (Argosy, 2010).. This evil could be directed inward and cause one to develop pathological conditions. Thus according to the theory of free will, as espoused by humanists and existentialists, if a person was not able to exert their free-will, choosing to evade responsibility, they would be stifled by anxiety and existential angst (King, Viney, & Woody, 2009).
One’s will and freedom also implicated how the process of change was to be managed. According to the humanists, an organism could grow toward its optimal state if given the right conditions. This spoke to the actualizing tendency of people (King, Viney, & Woody, 2009). Humanists believed that the change process was inherent in all people. All that was needed was the removal of obstacles that deter growth from occurring. Furthermore, according to the existentialists one must develop meaning in matters of existence (King, Viney, & Woody, 2009). Matters of will and freedom were considered inherent in the process of change.
Behavioral genetics and pharmacological approaches also deserve mention in-regards to ethical and moral determinants. Behavioral genetics, though vastly informed, have historically hindered psychological equanimity among the masses. Theories of genetic superiority have extrapolated racism and maintained privileged classism in the formative years of psychological development (King, Viney, & Woody, 2009). Pharmacotherapy has also absorbed many attacks upon its legitimacy as an effective form of treatment. Though there may be some indicators that pharmacological interventions have produced unethical outcomes, focus should be placed upon the morality of the system of delivery rather than the drugs themselves (Anderson, 2010).
Human nature, according to aforementioned theories, has been viewed as a by-product of schematic organization as well as other cognitive and biological processes. Thematic frameworks are constructed upon which one can operate and function. These frameworks of human nature are based on memories as well as environmental exposures. Earlier influencers of the cognitive sciences thought that human nature consisted of active modes of information processing and organization (King, Viney, & Woody, 2009). Theorists such as Hebb, suggested that complex cell assemblies form within the brain as stimuli are processed (King, Viney, & Woody, 2009). Furthermore, the mind-body connection is also representative of its influence on the expression of one’s nature. Human nature can be influenced by physiological as well as psychological components.
Cognitive and biological methods are involved in the process of change and growth. According to noted genetic epistemologist Jean Piaget, the human organism can accommodate and assimilate information based on the maturation of cognitive faculties (King, Viney, & Woody, 2009). Differing brain regions are in part responsible for such functions within the human organism. Using the information processing metaphor, if one's software is upgraded through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or if one’s hardwire is manipulated through pharmacotherapy, change can be an attainable outcome. Growth can be attained either by changing one’s cognition or one’s biology.
Effective therapy can change how the brain organizes and functions. Schematic development may be impacted by life events such as traumatic or other highly emotive events, which burn into one’s cognition as flashbulb memories (King, Viney, & Woody, 2009). Therapies can focus on rearranging mental scapes as well as improving cognitive deficits. The effectiveness of varying interventions must be informed by increased functionality. This does not mean that a client will be entirely "cured" but an overall shift toward wellness ought to be achieved. Cognitive therapies and biological interventions allow this to occur. An eclectic approach that combines these two and other disciplines may show the greatest outcomes and should be valued as effective systems of psychological care.
Think back to the first time you walked into a college classroom, or recall a job interview for the position you always wanted. From the moment you stepped into the room, all eyes were on you. If your experience was anything like mine, you were probably pretty nervous. Why was I so consumed by what others thought of me? Adler, Rosenberg, and Proctor in their text Interplay: The Process of Interpersonal Communication (2007 ), suggest that my self-concept (p. 56), which is largely based on what other people think of me, was driven by a process of identity management . This is why so much emphasis is placed on maintaining an acceptable presenting self. To say that I am not impacted by what others think about me would be a lie. Although I have maintained this view for several years, recently the implications of thinking and behaving in this manner have overtly begun to produce incongruence in my spiritual development. This class has broadened an already challenged perceived-self by offering insight into root psycho-social attributions of who I am and why I am the way that I am.
Looking forward to my personal maturation of psycho-social functioning, I have learned that consistent utilization of cognitive and relational skills is essential to fostering growth. I must be honest in my interactions with others and most of all with myself. If I fail to critically appraise my thoughts and actions I will easily focus on what needs to be changed in others instead of what can be improved in me. This will take a level of openness that negates egoic defenses. This ego is the key component that undermines my ability to learn from a social collective to begin with. Furthermore, a willingness to actively implement what I have learned throughout my life is critical to success of all types. I am truly thankful that the sunlight of the Spirit was able to penetrate my self-preserving distortions and awaken my spirit to connected consciousness. All human relationships are impacted by one form of social interplay or another. Learning to maintain a positive sense of self while appreciating these attachments is a venture of which I am happily partaking.
Individual Psychology continues to present valuable concepts that are as relevant today as when they were first formulated. Assessment of birth order and perceived familial relations give clinicians insight into possible personality configurations. Inferiority and alienation can become critical components that need to be worked through for healthy maturation to occur. It is amazing that out of these early childhood experiences an individual’s life goal begins to emerge and consequently shape the path that one takes. Instinctual drives to belong and function underlie most thoughts and behaviors. Phenomenology, teleology and social interest conceptualize the main themes that produce relevant foundations for congruence in human kind. Instead of viewing ones thought processes to be intra-psychic and ones behavior to be deterministic, a holistic approach to psychotherapy is utilized for understanding the individual. Adler believed that the woes of the world could be overcome by inter-connectedness within the larger context of society.
Working with adolescents and their families that have gone through multiple systems can be challenging. Clients that are exiting juvenile institutions have usually endured problems and dysfunction for several years. Adler gives an explanation to neurotic and pathological disorders that is universally understandable and uncomplicated. Somewhere in the child’s development there has been a disconnection. According to Adler, after hereditary disbursement, the family is the next largest predictor of how a child will develop. If a child is nurtured and made to feel connected, even natural neurophysiology can be positively impacted and shaped. In the event that a child does not dwell in a family milieu of perceived compassion and safety, the educational system can be presented with a maladjusted child. The responsibility then is shared with both teachers and family to assist in shaping mentally healthy children. As children grow into adulthood the embedded mistaken logic that has driven behavior becomes harder to reorient.
Psychotherapeutic insight alone may not be able to produce affirmative results. A societal paradigm shift that consists of community spirit may be needed. Resources for indigent families, excellent training for scholastic professionals, and the fostering of social belonging are factors needed to aid in producing healthy, acclimated beings. It is for this reason that research was exerted into this topic: In the hope to gain an understanding of an individual’s approach that has almost exclusively shaped psychology as we know it today. From Adler’s work the humanistic, existential, cognitive behavioral, feminine, and family therapeutic approaches have risen. Individuals entering the psychological field would do well to learn from such a resource as Alfred Adler.
Morality and ethics have influenced the development of the field of psychological since its inception. One could argue that the philosophical search to better understand the human condition was born out of a moralistic concern for humanity. Throughout the history of psychological thought, moralistic guidance has seemingly transformed into an ethical pursuit of understanding. Unfortunately, ethical standards have not always been upheld in psychology’s epistemological quest. In the pre-modern era, morality was subjective and largely decreed from religious institutions (Argosy, 2010). The modern era witnessed the emergence of experimental gurus who doled out moral dictums the field was to follow one after the other. Freud, one of the gurus, and his cohorts operated with a type of moralistic ethics that was rooted in subjective psychoanalysis. Scientific collaboration in the post-modern era again observed morality at the forefront of psychological advancement. Psychological giants, such as Martin Seligman, have thrown down the gauntlet of Positive Psychology (Positive, 2010). He and others want to know what impact the field is having on increasing society’s mental wellness rather than just focusing on it’s illness. A definite progression can be traced as we examine the impact of morals and ethics in the various stages of psychological viewpoints.
If morality was considered to be divinely bestowed and ethics were agreed upon by a larger community, then values would be the individual realization of these concepts. There is a close relationship within the climate and culture of an era and the values that are personified within it. Implications of modern era values ranged from positive to negative. Studies on people and animals forced the field to adopt ethical standards such as with the advent of Internal Review Boards (IRB’s) born out of the tragic Tuskegee experiments (Tuskegee, 2010). The Milgram Studies pushed the level of one’s values to see if authority could evoke compliance (Santa Clara, 2010). Zimbardo’s Prison Studies had to be halted due to moral reservations (Lucifer, 2010). On the bright side, the modern era ushered psychology out of the “dark-ages” of mental illness. Asylums in which humans were chained-down, treated inhumanely, and experimented upon were no longer condoned modes of operation. Though these practices were largely abandoned remnants still persist into the modern era, many recognize the unethical treatments and continue to call for a system that values the human ethos.
There are several ethical codes that address appropriate multicultural counseling skills. The American Counseling Association’s (ACA) ethical standard C.5. of Nondiscrimination states that counselors do not let their personal values interfere with effective multicultural counseling. Clients should not be treated differently for their age, culture, disability, ethnicity, race, religion/spirituality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, martial status/partnership, language preference, socioeconomic status, or for any other basis (American Counseling, 2010). Ethical standard A.4.b. Personal Values of the ACA also suggests counselors become aware of any personal biases that may detract from counseling goals (American Counseling, 2010). Clinicians should be especially careful to not allow their values to hinder their abilities to counsel multicultural populations. Several other codes from the ACA address cultural competency within the field of counseling. Those are ACA ethical standards A.2.c. Developmental and Cultural Sensitivity, A.11. Termination and Referral, B.1.a. Multicultural/Diversity Considerations, E.8. Multicultural Issues/Diversity in Assessment, E.5.b. Cultural Sensitivity and F.11.c. Multicultural/Diversity Competence to name a few (American Counseling, 2010). Adherence to aforementioned ethical standards allows for greater effectiveness in multicultural counseling.
Just how can one attain multicultural competency? ACA ethical codes encourage the counselor to not only be aware of one’s biases and how they may impact the clinical relationship, but also to expand knowledge of diverse cultures (Argosy, 2010). This point speaks to the avoidance of cultural tunnel vision, or being one-sided and biased in the counseling relationship. Taking this a step further, the counselor should strive to learn of the client’s unique cultural perspectives. When this can be accomplished the client is free to express themselves without fear of judgment or ridicule. Adopting an ethically relative perspective allows clinicians to provide such a formative therapeutic environment (Argosy, 2010). The lecture also recommends breaking down one’s stereotypes of other cultures. Here again we see that one must be aware of personal biases before they can begin to challenge and subsequently dismantle them. Following the above suggestion will enable a positive therapeutic response from multicultural clients.
I have heard that college does not teach one what to think but rather how to think. This is especially true for me. Being a life-long learner is a lifestyle choice for me. Learning about myself, the world around me, and how these two entities interact is something I will continue to do until I take my last breath and potentially beyond. I often thought during my course work that the tuition was well worth the self-knowledge I was gaining. I felt that I was gaining skills to be a more effective human being. I especially strove to apply the interpersonal awareness to my intimate relationships. Reflection of self and other has become a hallmark of my learning here are Argosy. Completing the program has also been a stepping stone for going on to graduate school. I have developed competencies at Argosy that will aid in my successes hence forward. I hope to continue to build on this platform as I take the next step in being a life-long learner.
Completing a task has always felt good to me. I have enjoyed coming to the end of a session or semester, knowing that I have met the requirements of the specific course. However, completing a course also made me keenly aware of the next course that I would be presented with in the future. Finishing my bachelor’s degree is similar to this experience. Though I am nearing the end of my time here at Argosy and I can look back with a sense of satisfaction, I am facing whole other courses and challenges. Fortunately, the past successes will reinforce my willingness to strive forward. A positive sense of self has become a foundation to stand firm upon as I look to further my academic career. I have learned that the person and the professional can not be so easily separated. I can use strengths of one to develop the weaknesses of the other as long as I place myself in a position of growth and development.
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