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Individual differences |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |
The assumptions we make about the nature of meaning are critical to the theories and approaches we take as psychologists. If we are concrete and defining in terms of our "reading" of people's verbal and nonverbal communications this leads to a different form of therapy than if we view these communications contextually.
For example early in my training I asked an agrophobic woman about her husband. She said, "Oh he's golden , I couldn't have a better husband". When I told my supervisor this, I was astounded when the said, "That's useful you can obviously ignore the relevance of that area, as a factor in her difficulties" I was astonished because I hadn't "read" her comments literally, in my world the context could obviously mean that she was overidealising him, to hide form the fact that his over controlling considerateness was at the root of her difficulties. For me the question of meaning in the relationship was a central focus of the therapy, while my supervisor would have looked elsewhere.
This picture is complicated by the fact that personality research into individual differences in concreteness of thinking etc suggests that 70% of the population err on the side of concreteness in thinking as opposed to 30% who are more inclined to metaphorical and contextual understandings.
As clinicians we are people and this dichotomy is reflected in the split between psychothearapy and scientific clinical psychology. Any new theory should take into account these factors and find a way to integrate these modes of thinking into an overall approach.
This is important, for as we differ so do the people we see. Therapist/client mismatches often reflect the differences between people on the concrete-metaphorical spectrum.