Friday, May 25, 2012

Social Change and Personal Theory

Conventional wisdom suggests what matters is what something is, not necessarily what it is called. This reminds me of the relationship between studying theory and the process of developing a personal theory and practice that will affect social change. As Walden University (2012) claims, its aim is to create scholar practitioners who can effectively promote such change. The process of developing a personal theory seems critical to becoming scholar-practitioners - it would be daunting to promote social change with a personal theory not infused by the spark of a personal resonance, passion, and self (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). People do not usually maintain an interest in ideas or causes that are not inspired by a visceral passion and commitment. To be an effective counselor, there must be a personal resonance with the theories infused into practice.

I continue to value and appreciate Corey's (2009) notion that the personal nature of self is an essential tool in counseling. Beliefs, values, the accumulation of experiences and the unique nature of each counselor plays a role in counselors' development and the ability to thrive and affect social change. As Seligman suggests (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010), infusing the Self into personal counseling theory is rewarding and comforting, for the counselor as well as the client.

Upon reflection, my personal theory has not changed too much during this course. I have, however, been given the beginnings of a roadmap and guidebook of different ways to approach counseling, and a fundamental language with which to communicate with my colleagues. Learning the basic language of this profession neither makes me fluent nor adept at its practice. It does, however, plant a seed of knowledge that will thrive and develop as I begin to put my theory into practice. Certainly, during the course of this class, these theories caused me to reflect upon my own strengths and shortcomings and simultaneously taught me to identify and foster my abilities. To me, this is what social change is about.

Prior to making changes in myself, I must perceive my shortcomings and limitations. Only then can I foster growth where it is needed. Similarly, as I grow and develop as a person and counselor, I can encourage similar growth in others. Without such growth, encouraging others is merely a contrived part of counseling or advocacy. Coming full circle with this idea, to foster greatness in others, I must be able to foster it in myself.

Bertrand Russel said "an artist or a scientific discoverer may be doing what is of most social utility, but he cannot do his proper work from a sense of duty alone. He must have a spontaneous impulse to paint or discover, for, if not, his painting will be worthless and his discoveries unimportant" (Russell, Egner, & Denonn, 1961, p. 360). Although I do not believe our work is necessarily pointless without that visceral impulse, it is apparent that to affect social change, personal evolution is critical. As counselors, developing a personal theory is akin to affecting social change.

Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Building a Personal Theory [Steaming video]. Baltimore.

Russell, B., Egner, R. E., & Denonn, L. E. (1961). Basic writings of Bertrand Russell, 1903-1959. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Walden University. (2012). Vision, Mission, and Goals. Walden University - Student Publications. Retrieved March 5, 2012, from

Because I have recently been contacted by university instructors regarding their student's plagiarism of my work, I feel compelled to remind readers that using someone else's work is common (and good) practice, but please don't forget to give credit where credit is due.  If you use portions of my work, please reference it.  This blogsite comes up in plagiarism programs such as Turnitin, so for your own protection, please don't plagiarize!  This warning is, of course, for the very few individuals who have no interest in authentic scholarship.  Sadly, I must include this notice with every post.  

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