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Психология труда; инженерная психология
The personal-professional development of the psychologist-practitioner
Author: Herman I. Marasanov, PhD (psychological), The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration
The person who hasn’t managed to set himself qualitatively new tasks in the period of his professional prime encounters particular difficulties, in awareness of which that can, once again, vividly, metaphorically be named "experienced trap”. A veteran is working, as a rule, either worse, or less (less strenuous and less productive) than that his colleague who experiences the preceding period. The "veteran” finds it more difficult than the beginner, or the already formed, actively working professional to master new experience, that is, to improve his professionalism. According to our data, just after getting in such a stage, many psychologists quit their profession and acquire a new trade becoming either businessmen or supervisors of various services or, as they used to say before, "organizers of science”. Awareness of such a state, understanding by the activity’s subject the fact he is a "veteran” very often brings on various stories of quitting the professional work, which in the past seemed the only possible one. A person seldomer proves to be able to formulate for himself new professional aims or tasks. If the awareness of the discrepancy between the competence and motive’s strength of activity’s subject has not taken place then the person starts losing the rate and quality of his work, increasingly anxious to find convincing for himself and for the others reasons for refusal of new tasks.
No less productive in the overcoming the "veteran” problem than open or hidden quitting the former psychological work is psychological work on the revaluation of the formed competence. In order to master the new experience, "veteran” has to critically reconsider his earlier professional resources. And in order not to become an unvoluntarily confirmation of the well-known remark of Lakatos that new theories merit universal acknowledgment only when the followers of the old ones die out, the "veteran” has to learn from the young ones, getting into another theoretical construction. The author of this construction, Margaret Mead, more than half a century ago proposed the idea about evolution of cultures in the direction from the post-figurativeness through pre-figurativeness towards co-figurativeness. The last definition just reflects the prophecy of the researcher who asserted that in due course the development speed, and that means, the complication rate of living the life by human being, will not only be correlative with the duration of one single life, but will begin overtaking it. That is to say, the world will start changing at such a speed that the experience of the preceding generation won’t serve as a foundation for the next generation. The elders and more experienced will learn from less experienced, younger and in a new way educated colleagues. In the psychology, where the life duration of just another theory runs between ten and forty years, it is especially noticeable. Theoretical and practical approaches in the psychological work, that seemed to be the only possible and absolute indisputable only twenty years ago, are becoming exhibits in the museums of psychological theories, and interest more psychology historians than the actively working researchers and practitioners. If the psychological work’s subject going through the "veteran” state, does not clearly comprehend the fact that his knowledge and experience are inevitably becoming obsolete in that case such a psychologist proceeds to the fourth phase of professional life which can be called the epoch of professional’s uselessness. Here the person lives on his memories of the past and today’s resentments of his younger and more successful colleagues who underestimate him.
The fourth dimension on which we have not made analysis, which we have not used yet in the construction of our periodization, it is orientating towards obligedness, that is, the third reference point in the research of neurotic conflicts according to V.N. Myasishchev.
Specific character of psychological work, be it scientific-research, applied or particularly practical work, supposes the peculiarities of the influence of the obligedness factor on such activity’s subject.
Here, perhaps, the obligedness appears as awareness of one’s own vocation, of one\s own inner duty, of one’s own debt to himself and only then to the socium. When a psychologist-consultant, or a psychotherapist in an interview declares it is impossible for him to have a vacation, or to participate in a scientific-practical seminar-training because of large work-load, because his services are in so high demand, because his clients without his (or her) help would come to a bad end, it more often than not illustrates a low professionalism and naïve coquetry of the talker. Fundamental principles of many psychological practices and the techniques contain, in this or that form, appeal to the psychologist to be non-appraising, natural, spontaneous, acceptive, sympathizing, understanding, not blaming, not categorical et cetera. This in many respects determines the professional-personal peculiarities of the psychological work’s subject. It seemingly appears as if the psychologist is not bound by norms of obligedness besides the norms, corresponding to general culture norms. And even the culture norms can be object for the discussion and analysis for the psychologist, if it is necessary to do in the interests of the client (patient). Hence it follows the question of obligedness turns out for the psychologist to be the question of the sense, for the sake of which he devotes himself to the psychological work. The annulment of answers to this question flattering subject’s vanity, that is, once again, the deep realization of what really evokes the "sense of duty” is here the professional necessity.
4. The general view of the psychologist’s personal-professional development.
In the first place, it is obvious that this model must have the form of a helix on each turn of which three (or four) development periods of a professional are located. Each new turn appears under the condition, if the psychologist, while remaining in just another acme of his professional development, appropriates tasks, new for himself, through the awareness of his professional way as a problem. And the new tasks, in their turn, can be formulated by the psychologist for himself and personally appropriated, if he has the answer to the question "what for, actually?”, that is, if the psychologist sees a personal reason in the appropriation of new tasks. Otherwise, the psychologist, while proceeding into the state of a "veteran”, obviously, or not, but in essence, without becoming aware of it, is changing into carrier of the merits, but in realty in the professionally exhausted person. Here external circumstances, the local, social, and professional milieu force the psychologist to abandon the active professional activity. The person, in any case, ceases functioning on the former professional level. While undergoing the crises of exhaustion and subjectively perceived hopelessness, the person is generating, imaging, creating in his dreams a new conception of the desirable future.
In confrontation such a problem, the psychologists more often then not commence devoting themselves to administrative, businessman’s, political, scientific-organizing activity. There are known examples, when a psychologist who has made a valuable contribution to psychological science or to psychological practice, commences successfully engaging in popularization, literary, tutorship activity. These sudden and unexpected for his co-mates "leaps” of interests lead the psychological work’s subject not only to a new, pithy professional life, but enable him to formulate new problems, ask new questions on scientific and practical plane.
5. Possible plots of psychologist’s professional perfecting, built on the basis of interviews materials.
The versions of possible plots or scenarios of psychologist’s professionalism perfecting we will group in conformity with those four periods or epochs that build concluded turn of professional development helix.
Thus, the first period. Here the strength of motivation, so to speak, leaves behind the professional competence. The psychologist who begins a new for him activity, needs a tutor. A lot of things in his complicated profession is being passed, you might say, "from hand to hand”. The need for informal contacts with the teacher is obvious. If the teacher is facilitating the wideness of the "nearest development zone” of the pupil, so the professional perfecting of the latter may be successful. Many participants of our interviews payed substantive attention to this factor. Besides, the effectiveness of the psychologist, experiencing the epoch of his professional perspectives, to a no less extent depends on independent, regular, rationally organized daily work with literature. Here the most successful specialists who had achieved considerable results and deserved acknowledgment in scientific circles (and in the associations of practicing psychologists, if the interviewee was a practitioner), noted the importance of rationally organized time of daily life. Having moved up onto a higher level of professionalism, having discovered for themselves their own "epoch of professional-personal acme” was for these researchers and practitioners the result of the long, insistent, everyday, original work, in writing analytical texts, reviews of special literature, in the planning and carrying out researches (or carrying out practical works of various kind). As a rule, the most interviewees noted that in order to achieve that high level of professionalism, on which they are now, they needed no less, than ten years of many hours every day work. The basis of such work’s motive formed either scientific-research interest of academic value, or search and approbation of new ways for interaction with a client (group of clients) with the purpose of rendering him (or them) psychological assistance.
Psychologists, experiencing the "epoch of acme”, when in interviews was touched the subject of methods for professionalism perfecting, besides the already mentioned necessity of rationally organized everyday and insistent original work (conscious practice), indicated the actuality of such forms of professional life, as active participation in the activity of professional associations (permanently functioning scientific-practical seminars, conferences and so on). Many also noted here the necessity of statements in specialized publications, the necessity of producing one’s own publications. According to the psychologists who had been interviewed it allows to receive comments from the colleagues, participate in discourse on professional questions, it creates conditions for propounding new tasks and problems. Many psychologists-practitioners not quite so seldom mentioned the necessity of steady or regular dialogue with a supervisor for further improvement.
Psychologists, experiencing in their professional life the "epoch of veteran”, noted the significance of searching for new themes, the difficulty and necessity of propounding principally new problems. Here particularly often one had occasion to hear meditations about permanent crisis in the psychology. Let us notice that in this group were not only specialists, so to speak, of "convincing passport age”. Among the specialists experiencing such "post-acme” crisis in their professional life, such a comfortable gloom, were quite a number of people who were only in their early forties. Criteria, by means of which the interviewee had been attributed to the third period of professional-personal development, were, firstly, their indisputable successes in the profession, acknowledgement, which they had merited in their professional association, and also the lack of enthusiasm, depressed emotional background, skepticism, absence of clear outlines of professional aims. The psychologists, belonging to this group, were looking for the ways out of this "post-acme” period in organizing and conducting permanently functioning professional seminars. It was interesting to record opinions of experienced professionals that some of them are aware of the necessity to learn from their younger colleagues. Several "veterans” who had been interviewed noted that the most productive method of their own professional development they consider the persistent search and propounding of principally new problems in science and practice. Just in this question the young and less experienced colleagues often prove to be useful.
1. Acuteness and intricacy of the question of psychologist’s professional-personal development and, as apportion of this question, the task of professionalism perfecting in the work, which he is carrying out now, has to do with the fact that the profession of psychologist is by no means completely ingrained in the social mass consciousness. This profession, despite its growing mass character, still is not included in social fabric of majority’s every day life. Hence there arises the intricacy in realizing the criteria of psychologist’s professionalism, first of all, as a specialist who renders psychological assistance to people. Since there are no established and easily understandable criteria of professionalism, so there are no obvious answers to the question of perfecting the professional skills.
2. Complexity, inherent in the solving the tasks of psychologist’s professionalism perfecting, is connected with much faster than in other professions change of actual techniques, methods, and modes of work. Psychological knowledge as often as not becomes obsolete before the end the active period of professional’s vital activity. The work techniques, once mastered, don’t permit the psychologist to conform with the high level of professionalism for an indefinitely long time. The knowledge, skills, theoretical models which only yesterday seemed to be the only true ones, tomorrow are being revised, refuted, and on their basis come into being new scientific-practical constructions. And the high-level professional is bound not only to lag behind, but to overtake the development of knowledge and skills in his own field.
3. Crisis phenomena in the psychology are projected on the psychological work subject, who experiences crisis symptoms in his professional life more acutely than specialists in other professions. The crises of psychologist’s professional-personal development are of cyclical nature. The professionalism development, probably, takes place in the form of a helix, on each turn of which can be revealed three or four periods (epochs). The replacement of one period by another occurs in the form of a crisis, the surmounting of which is possible through realizing of the arisen problems. On the basis of this awareness new aims spring up, new tasks are formulated and the content of work on the professionalism perfecting changes.
4. Each period of the cycle-turn personal-professional development evokes its own means and methods of professional improvement. Common of them are the following:
• insistent, regular, intense, and rationally organized work on selfdevelopment (the literature analysis, researches, psychological practice, publications)
• involvement in the professional milieu (working in seminars, conferences and so on)
• combination of pedagogical and pupil’s activity (teaching the young and learning from younger colleagues).
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