In previous weeks we have seen how various theories conceptualise the origins and development of the personality, particularly in terms of gender and sexual identity. We have discussed how psychotherapists have taken up these accounts to address the complex ways in which the traumas and lessons of childhood inform adult behaviours and psychopathology, particularly in relation to the transference relationship.
This week’s reading builds on that discussion by looking at the work of another psychologist, Jean Piaget. If Freud can be seen as the father of ‘depth psychology’, then Piaget is the first cognitive psychologist. Cognitive psychologists study human thought processes, the way we process information and solve both practical and theoretical problems. Piaget provides an account – what he calls a ‘genetic epistemology’ of the way cognition develops in the human infant, based on detailed observation of his own and other children. In a series of studies, published from the mid 1920’s onwards, Piaget analyses how children develop ideas like sameness and difference, living, dead and inert, property, causality, morality and fairness. His books provide fascinating insights into how much we take for granted in formulating our understanding of the world. They are fascinating primary texts and merit further reading. What follows is a very basic account of some of them.
Piaget identifies four stages in cognitive development. These are:
1. Sensori-motor stage.
From birth to age two. The chiild experiences the world through movement and their five senses. During the sensorimotor stage children are extremely egocentric, meaning they cannot perceive the world from others’ viewpoints. The sensorimotor stage is divided into six substages:
I. Simple reflexes;
From birth to one month old. At this time infants use reflexes such as chewing and sucking.
II. First habits and primary circular reactions;
From one month to four months old. During this time infants learn to coordinate sensation and two types of schema (habit and circular reactions). Primary circular reactions occur when the infant tries to reproduce an event that previously happened by accident (eg: thumb sucking).
III. Secondary circular reactions;
From four to eight months old. At this time they become aware of things beyond their own body; they are more object-oriented. At this time they might accidentally shake a rattle and continue to do so for their own gratification.
IV. Coordination of secondary circular reactions;
From eight months to twelve months old. During this stage they can do things intentionally. They can now combine and recombine schemata and try to reach a goal (ex.: use a stick to reach something). They also begin to understand what cognitive psychologists call object permanence during this stage ie: that objects continue to exist even when they can’t see them.
V. Tertiary circular reactions, novelty, and curiosity;
From twelve months old to eighteen months old. During this stage infants explore new possibilities with the objects they manipulate – they try different things to get different results.
VI. Internalization of schemata – the child develops basic conceptual schemas that can be articulated in language in the second stage.
Pre-operational stage. This starts when the child begins to learn to speak in basic sentences involving nouns and verbs around 18 months to age two and goes on to about six or seven. At this stage children do not yet understand concrete logic and cannot mentally manipulate information formally but they can play and imagine although they can not extend this to seeing things from different points of view. Piaget calls this egocentrism. In the mountain experiment, Piaget asks children to imagine what they would be able to see from the other side of the mountain – at the pre-operational stage they are severely challenged by this. Contemporary theories of autism take up this question of in times of ideas of ‘theory of mind’ – the assumption that other people have minds which are similar but not identical to our own, and which may have access to different information, particularly that based on context The Preoperational Stage is divided into two substages:
From two to four years of age children find themselves using symbols to represent physical models of the world around them. This is demonstrated through a child’s drawing of their family in which people are not drawn to scale. Accuracy is not yet an issue!
From about four onwards, children become very curious and begin to reason things out for themselves through repetitive and imaginative play. Piaget called this the “intuitive substage” because children start to develop a huge number of concepts and assumptions without explicit training or knowledge as to how these arise. They become intrigued, for example, in whether or not a given volume of a liquid remains the same, irrespective of the container that it is poured into (conservation) or that certain changes are irreversible – the effect of fire for example. From these the child is beginning to develop simple ideas of cause and effect.
From six or seven, children can now conserve and think logically (they understand conservation and reversibility for example) in relation to physical objects and concrete procedures – although not in relation to abstract concepts. They can show another child how to tie a shoe lace, for example – but find it much more challenging to explain how to tell the time (even if they can now read a clock).
From about ten onwards, children develop abstract (formal) thought. They are ready to reason and to predict the outcomes of hypothetical events. They become able to discuss what is meant by fairness or justice (as opposed to simply following rules) and to discuss questions like “What would happen if the world was invaded by aliens?” or “What would happen if we got rid of money?”
Piaget’s chronology has been questioned by subsequent psychologists who often argue that he over estimates the age at which children reach each stage, but the stages themselves remain very much of contemporary cognitive theory. They have also pointed out how regression to a previous stage can often characterise cognitive function particularly under stress – just as psychoanalysts have identified regression from genitality to oral fixations or the anal stage.
In the fascinating paper that follows
John Swan and Alastair Hull use a Piagetian model of cognitive development to analyse how regressive forms of thinking are characteristic of chronic depression and how they emerge and can be treated in the transference with the therapist. It shows the significance of working with transference, whether or not the therapist has a psychodynamic perspective.
Please read the paper so that we can then discuss it in more detail.
We have been training professionals for 40 consecutive years (Longer than any other organisation in the UK). Many of the top therapists and trainers in the UK began their career at the National College.
Our complete Diploma Course is a genuine, validated post graduate programme (ADHP recipients are eligible for direct entry to the MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice at Bath Spa University with 90 Credits APL).
We are 100% committed to the highest standards of training so that you are fully prepared for the challenges of professional practice
The National College is the only UK training organisation which is authorised the offer the European Certificate of Clinical Hypnosis through the European Association for Hypno-Psychotherapy. We are also one of only two European Accredited Psychotherapy Training Institutes with the European Association for Psychotherapy We should really be the International College of Hypnosis and Psychotherapy as we have graduates all over the world. We are an outward thinking organisation which looks out to the world for opportunities. Our Principal is the International Officer of UKCP and its representative to the Board of the EAP. We will continue to engage to ensure that our graduates have a future in a post-Brexit Europe.
Within the National College we have a philosophy that ensures that all tutors are full-time practitioners in addition to their training. By this we mean that they derive their primary income from seeing clients: this ensures that they "walk the walk" as well as "talk the talk". You will find that we often have examples of current clients to tell you about that illustrate theoretical points. There are some trainers who set up a school because they can't make it as practitioners. Would you want to be trained by them?
We believe it is vitally important that you see demonstrations of techniques and also get to practice. This gives you the confidence to practice with "real people" as soon as (if not before) you qualify. We say before, because you will be given permission to work with certain issues at certain points in your training. Not all trainers demonstrate, and not all give you a chance to practice and build your confidence.(ALL ours DO!)
On completion of the certificate course (stage two), graduates can join a range of professional bodies: the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (our regulator), the National Council for Hypnotherapy (a members’ co-operative with high standards, of which both our Principal and Managing Director are former chairs) and our own National Society of Hypnosis, Psychotherapy & Mindfulness. All you need to set up in professional practice with great support!
The National College course leads to registration with the UK Council for Psychotherapy; it is essential that important that your career is protected by being registered with a leading professional association like the UKCP (requirements for registration are laid out here). Our Managing Director is an Honorary Fellow of UKCP (approx. 1% of registrants) and is chair of the UKCP Education, Training and Practice Committee. Through this link you can be sure that we keep at the forefront of all developments in the field.
We believe in creating a friendly learning environment in which students feel safe to express themselves and learn while building supportive peer relationships with fellow students.
All our tutors are experienced teachers, as well as being, themselves, National College trained and experienced practitioners. We have made it policy that all tutors have to demonstrate training in diversity.
Support from a long established well-staffed organisation throughout not only your training but also your whole career!
We actively enforce equal opportunities and other policies
We believe the learning environment should be a safe, confidential and supportive space for all learners. For this reason we are committed to actively enforcing all our equal opportunities policies by making reasonable adjustments for any of the legally defined protected characteristics. An example of a reasonable adjustment would be agreeing to allow a student with dyslexia to provide portfolio evidence in recorded rather than written form if they needed to do so.
We encourage students to ask questions or make comments about the training at any stage and will do our best to meet your needs. There is a student representative on the Academic Board.
Ethical considerations are all important in a field where one is working with vulnerable people. We cover these in depth. Check with other schools as to which, if any, code of ethics they subscribe. They should be bound by a training code of ethics as well as teaching you one for practice.
The National College embraces modern technology; we provide our materials on a Kindle so that you have all that you need at your fingertips. Additionally, we are one of the first institutes in our field to use "online directed learning" as part of our advanced training.
We know that you want to know exactly what you will be learning, so we publish all the details of the structure of our courses including detailed learning outcomes. We also publish our external accreditation reports from UKCP, you can read our latest one here We want you to be sure you have made the right choice!
We train small groups of students, which we believe is important so that you get individual attention. Some schools have as many as 50 students in a class! We are also not limited to training in one location. We currently run courses in London, Manchester, Oxford and East Midlands (Leicester) in the UK and the Gold Coast (Australia) and Phoenix Arizona (USA)
Past students are welcome to re-attend any stage of their training FREE OF CHARGE (subject to available space) in the ten years following their primary training. This is just one of the ways we support our students. We believe that we are the only school of our type to offer this opportunity free of charge.
National College Hypnosis Training and Hypnotherapy Training courses adhere to the National Occupational Standards for Hypnotherapy (the Principal and Managing Director were members of the working group who wrote these), and incorporate and Professional Occupational Standards produced by UKCP.
We do not take just anyone onto our courses. You will be interviewed to ensure that you are suitable for this profession of working with vulnerable people, and, very importantly, to ensure that the National College is right for you. If we feel that another course would be better for you (and this does happen), we will tell you, and advise you of who to approach.
Therapy is an "individual" process: we will encourage you to find your own way to be the best therapist you can be.
Our course also includes business/practice management. So often hypnotherapists and psychotherapists fall at the first hurdle because, while they may be wonderful at what they do, they don't know how to get the clients. The National College has a great depth of knowledge and experience in this area that you can draw on. All our tutors around the country are willing to share with you what works and what doesn't so that you can learn from our successes, and our mistakes!
Our complete Diploma Course is a genuine, validated post graduate programme (ADHP recipients are eligible for direct entry to the MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice at Bath Spa University with 90 Credits APL.