Defense Mechanisms and Psychodynamically-Oriented Psychologists Research Proposal

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[. . .] The therapy clients along with participant substance abuse counselors will complete the necessary release forms and will also complete informed consent forms.

Assessments. Participant counselors will be administered the TAT cards in the standard TAT administration fashion with instructions as to explain what is happening in the picture, what led up to those events, what the characters are thinking and feeling, and what the outcome will be. Responses to the cards will be recorded verbatim and then later coded for defense mechanisms according to Cramer (1991).

The counseling clients will also be administered the drug/alcohol scales of the ASI6 in order to compare relapse rates by group and by counselor defense mechanism use in a quantitative design.


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Individuals that suffer from substance abuse or addiction have been observed to rely on defense mechanisms as a method for substituting the behavior (Eliason et al., 2005). Because substance abuse and addiction are such difficult problems to resolve or because many substance abusers are forced into treatment due to the ramifications of their behavior many of these individuals end up in counseling for their issues. Likewise, because of the difficulty in resolving abuse or addiction problem and many former addicts and substance abusers become counselors themselves as an effort to help other suffering individuals. These former addicts/abusers most likely relied on psychological defense mechanisms at one time or another to explain their behaviors and since these behaviors are unconscious and automatic it is quite probable that even abstinent or sober former abusers and addicts still rely on them. It would be helpful to know if former addicts/abusers were no counselors use defense mechanisms more often when treating clients in order to understand how this affects relapse in both client and counselor, the quality of the counseling session, the outcome of clients who have counselors with former abuse issues, and to alert counselors to potentially nonproductive behaviors that can occur in therapy sessions.

Research Proposal on Defense Mechanisms & Psychodynamically-Oriented Psychologists Assignment

The current study proposes to determine if indeed counselors who are former addicts or abusers use more defense mechanisms for coping both personally and professionally than do counselors without these histories, if these defense mechanisms surface in counseling sessions, how the counselor views their use of defense mechanisms, and if use of defense mechanisms is associated with therapeutic outcomes. The study will also attempt to ascertain if a specific type of defense mechanism (e.g., denial) is used more often by counselors was substance-abuse histories and if the above relationships regarding defense mechanisms in counseling are mediated by the type of defense mechanism the counselor uses.

The current proposal is not without limitations: for example, causation cannot be implied in such a study as it is correlational nature, the TAT can only reliably detect a small portion of the defense mechanisms that are defined and therefore certain defense mechanisms and the relationships in counseling may be overlooked, and due to practical concerns the sample size does not allow for generalization. Nonetheless, these issues do not appear to have been investigated before it may offer insight and valuable suggestions on how counselors with histories of substance abuse (and those without such histories) can learn to be more aware of their own issues and how they relate to the treatment of abuse/addiction.


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Eliason, M.J., Arndt, S., & Schut, A. (2005). Substance abuse counseling: What is treatment as usual? In: Edmundson, E. Jr. & McCarty, D. (Eds.), Implementing evidence-based practices for treatment of alcohol and drug disorders (pp. 33-51). New York: Haworth Press.

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Porcerelli, J.H., Cogan, R., Kamoo, R., & Miller, K. (2010). Convergent validity of the defense mechanisms manual and the defensive functioning scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 92(5), 432 -- 438.

Stein, L.A.R., Monti, P.M., Colby, S.M., Barnett, N.P. Golembeske, C., & Lebeau-Craven, R.

(2006). Enhancing substance abuse treatment… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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