This article represents the first in the history of the training centers in Russia concept of scientific psychological basis of trainings` conduction. The research was done to analyse what specific scientific psychological approaches are used in the activity of training center Syntone and which theoretical concepts are developed by the center itself. Analysis showed that the Syntone-approach, as a direction in practical psychology, is based both on its own scientific methods and on the scientific methods of neobehaviourism, cognitive psychology, contemporary psychoanalysis and humanistic psychology. It is shown that the Syntone-approach relates to the personal-behavioral trend in practical psychology and has ethical orientation.
Key words: practical psychology, trainings, psychological approaches, trainings` efficiency, Syntone-approach.
An approach in practical psychology is a set of concepts and the used technologies that make up a clear, established and complete system. A mature and independent approach means that a psychologist has his own vision of human nature, laws of individual life and mechanisms of personality development, his own philosophy of life, his conceptual devices (and sometimes language), his unique therapeutic, training or developing technologies.
In fact, Charles Rogers's humanistic approach is the vision of human nature, and a certain philosophy of life, the conceptual device and the unique technologies. Also, NLP approach of D. Grinder and R. Bendler, is another conceptual device and language, another philosophy, another vision of human nature and absolutely different, unique technologies too.
The Syntone-approach has developed during the practice of holding psychological personal and business trainings for the last twenty five years, from the point of view of history – an absolutely young phenomenon in modern practical psychology. Thus the Syntone-approach now unites dozens of psychologists-trainers running psychological personal and business trainings. The books published by them (more than twenty titles) fully represent the concept of Syntone, its conceptual device, its visions of human nature and problems of personality development. Their teaching aids and materials, as well as great experience of preparing trainers have created the necessary methodical basis. As a result it is possible to state that the Syntone-approach is a mature and independent approach in modern practical psychology.
The place of the Syntone-approach in modern practical psychology
What place does the Syntone-approach occupy in modern practical psychology, how does it correlate with other approaches, what paradigm does it work in?
Paradigm in practical psychology is the world outlook defining the main life values and the prevailing concepts. Two poles, two opposing paradigms in practical psychology is the behavioural and phenomenological paradigm.
The behavioural paradigm puts behaviour and those moments in human life which can be observed objectively in the centre of attention. In the behavioural paradigm the behaviour and objective external factors are important, all the rest is subjective. The internal, emotional state is important only in the degree of how much it is connected with the behaviour. The decision and action is more important than fears and other feelings. (« I am afraid... - Well, be afraid, but don’t tell me about the feelings... Tell the main thing - will you do it or not?») Feelings and emotions in comparison with an opportunity to act are less important. (« It hurts! – Does it hurt so much that you can’t walk? I can... Then - go! ») Objective things are more important than subjective attitudes. (« In the company I want to work for people are unpleasant. - And what is the salary? If the salary suits you - go! »)
The phenomenological paradigm puts vision, state, emotions, experience in the centre of attention. It is important internally what is there in the soul, and all external things are only important in the degree of how much they’re connected with the internal. The following table evidently shows the distinction between these two paradigms.
If we correlate the Syntone-approach with these paradigms, we can say that it works in the behavioural paradigm.
Behavioural paradigm and behavioural approach
Behaviorism is the ancestor of the behavioural approach in practical psychology where human behavior, more specifically, "what is there in the behaviour", "what we want to change in the behaviour" and "what particularly it is necessary to do for this purpose" is in the center of attention of the psychologist. In due course, however, there appeared a necessity to distinguish between conduct and behavioural approach. Quite often the concepts “conduct approach" and "behavioural approach" are used as synonyms, however in the established practice there is a considerable difference between these approaches.
What unites these approaches is that ways of influence in both of them should be described in behavioural language: what is really necessary to do, where to turn and what words to say.
If successful influence needs inspiration - it is fine, simply add additional instructions: what is necessary to get this inspiration, how to be confident that you have it and how to use this resource.
The behavioural approach in practical psychology is the approach that realizes principles of classical behaviorism. It works first of all with externally visible, observable behaviour of the person and considers the person only as an object of influences in full analogy with the natural-scientific approach.
"Psychology from the behavioural point of view is clearly objective, experimental area of natural science which requires as little introspection as such sciences as chemistry and physics."
"During objective studying of the person a behaviourist does not observe anything that he could name consciousness, feelings, emotions, imagination, as he doesn’t think that these terms define real phenomena of psychology. He comes to the conclusion, that all these terms can be excluded from the description of human activity... "
The behavioural approach includes not only the behavioural, but also the cognitive-behavioural and the personality-behavioural approach where the psychologist sees in the person the author of both external and internal behaviour (ideas and emotions, a choice of this or that role or position in life) - any actions which he is the author of and for which he is responsible.
In the personality-behavioural approach, unlike behavioural, the psychologist sees in the person who he works with not an object of influence, but a personality - the person who can control and manage his behaviour and with whom it is possible to discuss his choices.
The Syntone-approach is always turned to the person as the author of his own life and behaviour and can be surely attributed to personality-behavioural approach.
Orientation of the Syntone-approach
One of the important characteristics of work of practical psychologist or school of practical psychology is this or that direction and orientation. For example, it is possible to point out ethical or applied orientation of psychological practice, business orientation or orientation to private life and family (business and personal trainings, business coaching and individual psychotherapy).
Unlike, for example, the NLP-approach where the psychologist solves only applied problems and does not set pedagogical, educational aims, the Syntone-approach pays attention to ethical contents of psychological work: «How do your actions affect other people’s life? What do you leave after yourself in life? »
Thus, as a direction in practical psychology, the Syntone-approach belongs to personality-behavioural trend and has a vivid ethical orientation.
The necessity to understand the importance of scientific basis for training activity
Quite often trainers running various psychological trainings, think skeptically of scientific psychological schools: «They are theorists, and we are experts». What appears to be the result of such neglect? Firstly, ignoring experience of colleagues, such trainers waste time and effort on creation of homebrew theories, not noticing, that they have invented a bicycle. Secondly, absence of precise criteria in evaluating training activity results easily leads to subjectivity, thus own results are usually seen in the best light, and results of colleagues - in the worst. In this respect a positive tendency is the aspiration to understand the very uneasy sphere of practical psychology, the sphere of personal psychological trainings from the scientific point of view. Thinking trainers running the courses of personal growth not only intuitively ask themselves «What am I doing and what am I actually achieving?», but wish to evaluate their work objectively on the basis of criteria of reliable results developed by science.
What can such analysis give and what does it give?
- Optimum use of modern psychological theories, approaches, results of research experiments in formation of scientific approach to training programs that will allow to increase the efficiency of training.
- Carrying out of trainings as research workshops, confirming or denying some scientific theories and results of experiments.
- Check of the theory in practice is held more precisely and more quickly.
- New theoretical approaches in carrying out trainings on the basis of modern psychological science are being developed, the understanding of what we do during trainings is more precise.
- There is better understanding of opportunities of training toolkit and its efficiency considering global experience.
- Tendency to follow the scientific approach, to self-discipline, to ask yourself not only how I do something, but also what I do is imparted to trainers.
Scientific basis of the Syntone-approach
As a direction in practical psychology, the Syntone-approach is based on both its own scientific research, and on scientific ideas of neobehaviourism, cognitive psychology, modern psychoanalysis and humanistic psychology.
Behaviorism is one of the oldest psychological approaches which has a big theoretical and empirical basis. It is natural, that extreme methods of early behaviourism are now overcome, and from behaviourism Syntone-approach takes materialistic vision, attention to the person’s behaviour, to what can be precisely fixed in the behaviour. According to the research on greater efficiency of positive reinforcement, Syntone-approach uses primarily positive, direct and indirect forms of behaviour reinforcement. In the framework of behavioural trend the Syntone-approach is based on cognitive-affective theory of Walter Mishel, on the theory of social training by Albert Bandury and the theory of social training by Julian Rotter.
The Syntone-approach and cognitive-affective theory of Walter Mishel
The Syntone-approach quite agrees with Mishel’s cognitive-affective theory in that a person’s behaviour varies from situation to a situation, but in a certain, predictable way.
For example, if somebody is angry with his wife he can react aggressively. However if the same person is angry with his boss, he will most probably suppress his anger and will obey. Such behaviour can seem inconsistent because it looks as if the person reacts differently to the same stimulus. But, from the point of view of the cognitive-affective theory, the irritation caused by different people, is not the same stimulus. The behaviour described by us is not inconsistent and can reflect the pattern of reacting which is stable for this person during his whole life.
It is possible to speak about personality traits and to measure them. In order to predict his behaviour, it’s much more important and interesting to understand their psychological situation, his internal vision of an event.
«Focus is shifted from attempts to compare and generalize, intended to find out what various people «represent», to an estimation of what they do - really or mentally - in relation to the psychological situation in which they find themselves» (Michel, 1973, р. 265).
The Syntone-approach and the theory of social training by Albert Bandury
The theory of social training by Albert Bandury covers the following phenomena actively used in the practice of the Syntone-approach:
Training through watching the sample and copying models of behaviour, consciously or through the mechanism of unconscious imitation.
Indirect reinforcement - watching the consequences of other people’s behavior.
Self-checking, self-reinforcement, self-punishment - the person can control himself and reinforce himself in a positive and negative way.
Self-efficiency - importance of conviction of the person that he can cope with those tasks he faces.
The Syntone-approach and the theory of social training by Julian Rotter
The four basic concepts on which the theory of social training is based are: behavioural potential, expectancy, reinforcement value and the psychological situation itself. According to it, the Syntone-approach pays great attention to behavioural potential of participants of trainings, to expanding the range of their possible behavioural reactions, to using mild and rigid reactions, to alternating cooperation and competition, to effective formulas and intonational variety, - to everything, that can give social, psychological and actor's training. Work with expectations in the Syntone-approach means discussing strategies of either "to reduce losses" or "to increase benefits", development of desire to behave confidently, forming respect of others, ability to see people in your surroundings who are ready to help. The value of reinforcement in the Syntone-approach is realized, in particular, through the analysis of other people’s expectations, through the ability to respond to what a particular person means in a particular situation. As for analysis and understanding of the psychological situation, taking context and details into consideration, the Syntone-approach implements it at all stages of training - both in the sphere of friendly relations, and while dealing with family situations, as well as in analyzing business cases with executives.
Julian Rotter’s understanding of internal and external locus of the control in the Syntone-approach is used in two interconnected variants - as a theme "Author-victim" and a theme of the personal responsibility for what the person does and for what happens with him. Rotter’s questionnaire is used in the Syntone-approach to control the results of trainings. Experimental research of training results under the Syntone-program show that participants strengthen their internal locus-control, that they increase their personal responsibility not only for what is happening in their business and private life, but also for their internal emotional state.
The Syntone-approach does not share Z. Freud’s conviction that a person’s libido is the center of his mental life, but considers that childhood is the major stage when personal ways of relations with the world are formed.
In the framework of social psychoanalysis the Syntone-approach uses its own methods, namely the theory of social psychoanalysis of emotions by N.I. Kozlov. The theory of social psychoanalysis of emotions not only explains the numerous phenomena which are not receiving a convincing explanation in other theories, but also gives positive pedagogical effect, showing, that the possibility to manage emotions is not something new and artificial for an adult, but is returning to his childhood skill of managing emotions.
Cognitive approach in psychology
The Syntone-approach uses ideas of the cognitive trend which emphasizes the importance of analyzing subjective perception of an event.
The Syntone-approach and the theory of personal constructives
The Syntone-approach, analyzing how the person perceives different events, is based on concepts of personal constructives, proposed by George Kelly. During educational and training work in the Syntone-approach we have a task to enrich a person’s constructives, to make them more varied, flexible and adequate, as a result to increase his ability to make distinctions between what participants see in themselves, in the surrounding people and in the world around them.
As one of philosophical theories, J. Kelly’s theory of constructive alternativism is used in the Syntone-approach. According to this theory, the reality can be interpreted by people in a variety of different ways on the basis of « constructive alternatives » (that is the various points of view about reality, individual models of reality).
In constructive alternativism interpretations of correct or wrong signals of the environment aren’t considered, and all hypotheses allowing to contact with the environment adequately can exist. In other words, in constructive alternativism the acceptability of a hypothesis is determined not by a degree of approximation of the model to the "original", but by its heuristic value.
Together with Abraham Maslow the Syntone-approach is aimed at investigating the highest levels of personality development and emotional health, and self-actualization of the person.
The Syntone-approach implements the opinion offered by Charles Rogers according to which the best results in personality growth are achieved by working in a positive way, in the format of supporting the best intentions and aspirations of the person.
"When a person comes to me full of his worries and concerns, I am sure the best thing to do is to try to establish such relations with him in which he feels free and safe".
Objective evaluation of the influence of trainings in the Syntone-approach on participants
There has been research studying the influence of Syntone trainings on personal characteristics of participants. For the research the basic training course of the "Syntone-program" was chosen, as it has established methods, positive responses and stable popularity. The training course lasts for 6 weeks (1 session a week).
3 groups of volunteers took part in the research: group 1 were people who expressed desire to do this training course, but who didn’t started yet (60 persons at the age of from 17 to 45), group 2 – people who were taking part in the training course in the period of the research (42 persons at the age of from 17 to 44) and group 3 – people who finished this training course within from two weeks to two years before the research (43 persons at the age of from 20 to 48).
16-factor personality questionnaire by Cattell was used for doing the research. It consists of 105 questions, which represent sufficient spectrum of scales describing value and behavioural purposes of the person.
The testing was held by means of presenting the material through the Internet. Background of respondents and their phone numbers were recorded during the testing. Anonymous answers and answers with inadequate biographical particulars were excluded from processing as doubtful.
The research has shown that the participants who went through basic Syntone training course, in comparison with a similar sample of people who didn’t attend Syntone trainings, on the average are:
- Essentially more dominant, have more abilities and skills, characteristic for leader’s behaviour.
- Essentially more expressive (are inclined to emotional self-expression)
- Essentially more practical
- Essentially less worried
- Essentially less stressed
- Have higher self-control
- More socially focused
- More courageous
- A little less sociable
- A little more rational
- A little more frank
- Slightly more capable of making abstract conclusions
- Slightly more emotionally stable
- Slightly more standard in behaviour
These results correspond to the declared purposes of the training course. It is necessary to point out that the set of changes on the whole corresponds to development of leadership qualities.
The given research is only the beginning of big work. We see prospects in several directions. Firstly, it is necessary to study in more detail modern scientific research in the field of practical psychology in order to strengthen the scientific basis of the Syntone-approach. Secondly, it is necessary to carry out own scientific research, as it is obvious that in the given area advanced psychological practice already overtakes theory, and we need research that will back up achievements of practice by authority of science.
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