The basic rationale for personal development can be understood from the necessity to understand one’s own human needs, together with spiritual, emotional and social development, because a failure to understand this about one’s own self is unthinkable if trying to understand and relate to other human beings in any meaningful way.
A person’s development can be perceived in many different ways; for instance as in Freud’s Psychosexual Development Theory (Marshall, 2004) which looks at stages of sexual development and the frustrations connected to each stage, or Havighurst’s Developmental Stages (Sugarman, 1986) and Tasks which identifies:
Tasks that arise from physical maturation
Tasks that arise from personal values
Tasks that have their source in the pressures of society
or through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs(Maslow, 1998).
Or indeed through any of the other methods and theories that have been developed, and which may be studied and related to the needs of a counsellor in training,e.g.:
Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development Theory
Piaget’s Phases of Cognitive Development
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development
Gilligan’s Theory of Moral Development
Which is to name but a few, and some of which will mean more to one person than to another.
What is really important is the core condition of recognising ourselves and others as human beings with developmental needs and developmental constructs, the understanding of which is paramount to enabling a real understanding of the human development processes and the requirements necessary in order to work towards living a contented and fulfilled existence for ourselves, and for engaging meaningfully with others working towards the same.
An individual’s decisions are often influenced by social construction, by adapting our personality to fit in with the expectations of friends, family and employers; whilst in relation to any other person we may act in response to our own unconscious and emotionally fuelled expectations. The person we are depends upon our life experiences and feedback from others about how we inter-relate with those people with whom we come into contact, as well as the physical, cultural and spiritual worlds in which we find ourselves. If we are to be able to relate to others whose personal construct and developmental processes that have led to what they have become with any real empathy and congruence, we must first understand our own construct. In taking responsibility for learning about our own emotional and social actions, understanding and development, we act authentically; but allowing our social construct to make choices for us could be seen as acting un-authentically.