Saturday, August 1, 2009

Challenge of Self Analysis

I sometimes ask my clients why they made a certain decision. This question more often comes up if the client's decision was harmful in some way, like deciding not to go to a job interview though it would've been a sure thing, to takingdrugs or assaulting someone.

The replies vary. Some clients have developmental or mental health disabilities that make self analysis even more challenging. But most of us don't think about how they make decisions. Some of us also think too much about our decisions, but that's another issue (also, I don't think this alternative necessarily means the decision will be a better one).

I don't even necessarily mean the decision process of weighing the cons and pros because sometimes decisions happen on a quicker basis and are based on how we made decisions in the past. A client of mine was arrested for assaulting another man who tried to hit on and touch his girlfriend. I've experienced this client be angry at me before but I've also seen him control his anger (usually to shutting off). When I asked him about how he reacts to me (with some control of his anger) following his arrest my client said that he can't express his anger to me in the same way because he needs things from my agency. While I understand this, I also told him that he was able to control his anger while interacting with me so I know he has the ability to do it. But there's an honor code, the client tried to explain to me. Giving a look, which may be enough to diffuse a conflict in some situations could also be interpreted as an aggressive act, which is what my client explained to me would happen if he didn't use force and push the other guy away. The thought process was quick here and was based on previous patterns. What I go by is that if clients think about why they made a decision they may be more aware of their choices in the future. Some self reflection is good for everybody.

The idea of self analysis reminds me of one psychology class I took where I learned about early students of psychology when it was still a young science. These students tried to learn about people by asking subjects how they felt doing different tasks, including sex, and describe their sensations. It struck me as intuitive but limited -- while we may know ourselves best, we're all limited in our ability to analyze our behavior through our perceptions alone.But it's a start.

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