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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
In the present work we will examine for the most part the periods of stability in the course of which the professional is perfecting, improving his skills, becoming aware of dynamics of his professional motives, solving the problem of every day professionalism increasing. But we won’t avoid the crisis moments in the course of which important changes happen in the aims, interests, motives in the psychologist’s professional selfattitude, and also revaluation and rethinking of the road covered in the profession, because otherwise it would be impossible to characterize validly the periods of relatively stable professional activities improvement.
The actuality of revealing the conditions and factors which (as a support and as a hindrance) influence the professionalism’s improvement of the psychological work’s subject is such that first of all these relatively stable periods of professional’s development ensure the productivity of bifurcation moment’s passing, that is, of professional’s growth crisis, when the activity’s subject happens to get ready to change suddenly his professional (and quite so often, his personal) life under the influence of seemingly unimportant forces. So, the principal question to which we will attempt to answer will be the question, what helps and what obstacles the perfecting the professionalism of some one who is engaged in psychological work.
Materials and Methods. Among the research methods which we have employed it should be notice of the content-analysis of numerous interviews with psychologists, working in various fields of psychological practice and applied psychology, the texts of the most of which have been published  and also the study of according literature.
1. Psychological work as a professional activity.
In order to reveal sufficiently the most suitable ways, methods, modes of the psychologist’s professionalism perfecting it would be correct, as it seems to us, to take a good look at the essence and peculiarities of the psychological work.
Less than twenty years ago the most widespread form of psychologist’s work was scientific research . The applied psychology revealed itself in pedagogical, medical institutions and, to some extent, in industrial organizations. Psychological practice was almost imperceptible. Here we, after F.E. Vasiliuk, under the psychological practice understand such forms of psychological work where the psychologist is not an "appendix” and not an assistant of a person of another professional line, but such work where the psychologist is becoming the only and principal character. We understand the applied psychology as an activity, ensuring, accompanying the work of teacher, doctor, engineer, policeman, rescuer, politician, general manager, chief of personnel service at cetera, where in each of mentioned activities the psychologist is an assistant, consultant, expert, adviser of the main performer. In the psychological practice the psychologist becomes the principal performer, the genuine subject of professional activity.
Today the concrete forms and varieties of psychological practice are the following:
- nonmedical psychotherapy (or, using the detailed elaboration, accepted by many specialists, these are such forms of psychological assistance as psychological consulting, psychological correction, and actually, the psychotherapy);
- psychological work with a group (trainings of different orientation);
- psychological diagnosis (expertises, checkups).
Besides the traditional realm for exerting efforts by psychologists is scientific-research work, carried out not only with the aim to gain new knowledge in specific direction of psychology’s development, but also the work, carried out to orders of commercial and state organizations.
The notions of personality’s professionalism and activity’s professionalism have been examined, so to speak, on the universal psychological and the universal acmeological level just as detailed, as insufficiently these questions are illuminated in regard of activity’s professionalism of psychological work’s subject.
But the peculiarities of the psychological work, as it seems to us, specifically are such that the personality and the activity of this work’s subject remains here in especially intricate connections, the rise and systematic self-development of which is incarnated in mobile, dynamic and not always stable correlation. Hence, the problems of professionalism of psychological work subject’s perfecting, from all appearances, it would be useful to examine completely and simultaneously in two aspects. The first aspect is the activity professionalism, that is to say, the activity aspect of professionalism. Here the main criterion will be competence. The second aspect is the professionalism of personality, that is to say, the personality aspect of professionalism. Here the main criterion will be the motivation component.
Quite so often there are also no criteria to appraise the accuracy of the decision which have been reached. Or the verification of the accuracy happens to be very belated. Thus, the task of reformation of his own personal-professional vital activity grows into a real problem for psychological work’s subject.
It is well known that no one form of psychological practice, no one school of applied psychological work possesses today any distinct, accepted criteria of productivity, effectiveness, potency. There are even no generally accepted professio-grams of the psychological work. Also generally accepted and long existing notions of professionalism levels of psychological professional activity’s subject are absent. Here the attention should be drown to the fact that we are not talking about the criteria, scientifically substantiated and revealed in the course of special researches, not even about corporative standards and references of the psychologist’s professional work which are accepted and successfully used in several large and not very large organizations. What we are talking about is, to what extent these standards have become generally accepted and well-known, to what extent the criteria of psychologist’s work and the psychologist’s profession itself are included in the context of population’s every day life. It is enough to mention the dragged on for a whole century debate between the therapeutists of psychoanalytic and rational-emotional, cognitive-behavioral schools about the possibility or inadmissibility of measuring the psychological assistance’s effectiveness.
Hence one can make the assumption that psychological work’s subject, in the first place, is not always convinced of the correctness of the methods and ways chosen for the perfecting his professionalism, and, in the second place, found himself in the midst of a crisis, emerges out of it, relying on criteria, conformity of which to the inner feeling of correctness of the undertaken resolute action is quite not so easy to appreciate. Consequently, a model, in a way reflecting the periods of personal-professional development of the psychologist, might perhaps relieve such situation.
2. Examples of theoretical models of periodization of the professional development worked out in the domestic psychology.
Theoretically, the mostly worked out today, without no doubt, are the models of periodization of professional development, proposed by E.A. Klimov . The author divides the professional development in phases. In the course of professionalism growth, according to E.A. Klimov, the professional activity’s subject goes through the state of "optant”, "adept”, "adaptant”, "internal”, "master”, "authority”, "tutor”. Here are successively described the growing professional possibilities of a person and topics for their application. The replacement of phases takes place, according to E.A. Klimov, on the basis of two criteria. Those are criteria of time and the growth of professional skills, abilities, knowledge. The whole periodization, in essence, is reflecting the development’s dynamic namely and only of activity’s professionalism. Here the problems of personality’s professionalism have not been reflected. Perhaps, that is why E.A. Klimov does not pay special attention to professional crises. Besides, the typology of the professional development, built by E.A. Klimov, can be applied to each professional activity if only in the socium have formed steady notions of it, if this activity has been firmly included in the social context.
The psychologist’s work, as it was already noted, is not yet finally determined according to criteria of its quality evaluation, according to levels of professional competence, by indications of social includedness in the general structure of professions which have become customary for the most people. Such profession as "psychologist”, in spite of its being actively introduced into the Russian society life, yet is not perceived just as customary and ordinary, as, for instance, the professions of teacher, doctor, engineer.
Unlike E.A. Klimov who examined the development of activity’s professionalism, R.A. Ahmerov  concentrated his investigation on the research into personality’s professionalism. The author analyses the moulding of a professional from the stand-point of examination of stage crises of personality’s growth. In his work three types of crises are singled out. First, it is the crisis of non realization which, as the author insists, arises on the background of taking keenly to heart unsuccessful life, the not attained achievements, unfairly lowered evaluation of professional results by the co-mates. Secondly, it is the crisis of spiritual emptiness. The crisis of this type can experience a professional which has achieved, though, considerable results and successes in his work, but is exhausted, lost interest to professional tasks and that’s why he doesn’t dispose of perspective plans, programmes, aims for his further functioning in the profession. Like it vividly observed E.A. Klimov, commenting the state of professional activity’s subject who experienced such a crisis "it is already a smoked out cigarette” [5, p.416]. The third type of professionalism crisis, according to Ahmerov, it is a lack of prospects crisis. In our view the third type of crisis is perceptibly nearer to the second type, than the first one to the two others. The author explains that the lack of prospects crisis differs from the crisis of spiritual emptiness in that way that in the latter case not so much the professional himself is not capable to fix for himself new, distant aims as the external circumstances, peculiarities of social environment are not permitting to do it.
Some indications of each crisis, revealed in the R.A. Ahmerov’s research, are easily discovered, of course, in the subject of psychological work. But there are, at least, two reasons, why it is difficult to use these results in the process of solving the task of perfecting the psychologist’s professionalism. Firstly, the grounds are not quite clear on which all three forms (or types) of crisis "go into” a single, interconnected typology or periodization. Which of them occurs first? When does it happen? What are the ways to overcome it?
Secondly, by what indications can we distinguish creative-developing and destructive-destroying way to overcome each of the revealed crises?
3. An attempt to build a periodization of personal-professional development of the psychological work’s subject.
In designing the periodization we have taken as a basis the idea of V.N. Myasishchev  the essence of which has become the foundation for the undeservedly rarely employed today relations theory, proposed by the author as far back as in the thirties of the XX century. Analysing the neurotic conflicts, V.N. Myasishchev indicated lines actual for our research, or reference points, along which the neurosis can develop, if the subject has not become aware of the motivation’s (or requirement’s) conflict. But even if he has become aware – we could add to – it leads only to somatic manifestations of neurosis, but by no means eliminates the problems which the activity’s subject has run into. Here are these reference points:
- I want;
- I can;
- I must.
And, in continuation of V.N. Myasishchev, we add to it one more reference point: "I am aware”.
Using these reference points as typological bases for the building of our periodization, we obtain the sequence of professional epochs which the psychologist certainly goes through, functioning as a professional.
The first period, or the initial, early epoch of professional moulding is, perhaps, connected with the fact that the psychologist "desires” are more than he "can” and not at once becomes aware of his possibilities and motives. Hence we can divide this first period in two parts which distinguish itself by level of consciousness. The first half of the early epoch can be described as "I want more than I can and I become aware of not much”, and the second as "I want more than I can, but I become aware of essentially more”. Let us name this period epoch of perspectives, or epoch of rapid professional growth. The emotional background here can be called as background of joyful discomfort. Joy is from the awareness of perspectives, discomfort is from the professional possibilities shortage. Here it is appropriate to remember the most effective form of drawing into profession, such as tutorship. Today they started calling this process "coaching”, but it in no way changes the essence of the method which for the present period ensures the most effective way for the professional improvement.
The second period – it is, vividly speaking, the epoch of personal-professional selfrealization. This period can also be conditionally divided in two parts according to level of consciousness by the psychological work’s subject of his professional tasks and problems. The results of interviews with the colleagues, the content-analysis of these interviews show the following. At this time, particularly towards the end of second period (or the second epoch), the professional psychologist is coming in his acme, he is at the peak of his professionalism, of his possibilities. At this stage, when the personal-professional interests and incentives to work are still sounding strongly, just at this time appear the first doubts, the first signals of approaching second crisis. The psychologist starts attributing his losing interest to his work to the increasing work load, to the lack of time in order to actively, as it used to be in the past, follow the publications, the new ideas, to analyse new data. The becoming aware of the happening, losing interest, the motivation to work, leads to emotions which, graphically speaking, can be called "comfort despondency”. And indeed, the successful professional begins slowing down his professional perfecting, gradually missing directions for selfdevelopment, at first because of increasing loads in already mastered and generally familiar work. At this stage, as testify the colleagues which have participated in the research (look up Marasanov, 2009), the most appropriate and effective method, ensuring the further perfecting of professionalism, is the intensive work with the supervisor for the psychologists which render psychological assistance (consulting, correction, therapy), and also regular participation in various professional seminars-trainings, conferences, informal "round tables” where are gathering colleagues. The third method for professionalism improvement for the psychologist, experiencing the epoch of his professional bloom, is the teaching activity which enables the professional to become aware of his own achievements, possibilities and problems.
The third epoch into which the psychologist can enter if he has not changed his work towards the end of the previous epoch (which takes place more often than at the breaks of others), it is the epoch which we can graphically name "the epoch of veteran”.
Continue reading. Part 2>>>
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