Author: Gareth Hallet Context and purpose Human development is an absolute necessity in the world of work. The present economy, technological advancements and environmental demands compel the modern employee to continuously improve their ability to handle ambiguity and change as well as appreciate learning.  In order to achieve this it is critical to explore the role of psychology in firstly understanding learning and secondly, from a holistic perspective the growth and development of individuals.  Consider for a moment the purpose of psychology – the ultimate goal of all our efforts, within the profession, is to essentially help people grow and develop so that they function effectively in their environments.  Being a science we accomplish this by creating and practically applying theoretically and statistically sound models of understanding.  So with the individual in mind, we embarked on the development of a model of individual growth and development.  In our exploration, and to truly understand growth and development, we explored various fields of thought in an attempt to provide a holistic model of understanding, which draws on the concepts of Worldview, Phenomenology, Systems Theory, Field Theory, Metacognitive Theory, and theories relating to Learning and Change. A Model of Individual Growth & Development Describing the Model In order to expand knowledge and improve skills we believe that individuals need to go through a process which brings about self-awareness thereby laying an important foundation for learning and secondly, providing a platform for sustainable change.  The process is outlined below:

  • We appreciate that any person attending a training course (workshop, meeting, or any session where there is a gathering of people) arrives with their individual perspective or worldview.  Our individual worldview, which participants are guided through, is determined by a number of intrapersonal and interpersonal factors such as my current reality, my origin, how I see my future, my values, my knowledge etc.
  • Participants are given an opportunity to explore these intrapersonal and interpersonal factors in terms of how they experience the world.   Their worldview will determine and give meaning to how they, on an individual level, perceive the world, make judgements about the world and lastly, how they feel about their experiences.  So in essence their perspective defines the way in which they understand themselves, interpret and interact with the world.
  • We then guide the participant’s focus towards others.  Being part of a whole, the participants are introduced to exercises which help them to appreciate that as an individual they form part of a larger system such as a ‘home’ system or ‘work’ system.  Participants need to realize that they do not exist in isolation and that their actions or behaviours (or more philosophically speaking, their existence) impacts on those around them.
  • Through careful design we ensure that the participant becomes aware of their perspective regarding gaps that may exist as a result of understanding both themselves and their interaction with the world.  Through this process we help participants write, in a self-directed manner, their personal future life script.
  • In enhancing their perspective it is critical that the participant identifies their own development needs as well as appropriate pathways or development methods in closing the gaps identified.  The process drives ownership which when followed in an authentic manner ensures that the participant directs the development process by themselves.

  Before attempting to deal with the content we believe that groundwork regarding needs to be laid.  That is, the individual needs to go through a process whereby they gain an appreciation for and a personal perspective with regards to growth and development.  Once this is achieved the process continues:  

  • Learning pertains to the content to which the individual will be exposed.  This step is characterized by experiential, practical and theoretical components which are designed in such a way that the individual relates to the content in meaningful and personal way.
  • Change, a process rather than a step, is one of the key signs for individual growth and development.  Change is not something that can be merely imposed on others.  Rather this model accepts both conscious and unconscious changes need to take place before change is sustainable.  Despite the outcome, that is whether new behaviours are endorsed by the participant or not, the participant would have undergone a powerful process that either reinforces their current perspective or sows the seed for change regarding their worldview.

Throughout the process participants need to make decisions regarding their learning needs, the utility of new skills in their context, and lastly, whether the learning will be endorsed and appropriately applied.  The individual’s view of the world is as a result either reinforced or changed, and perhaps more importantly whether endorsed or appropriately applied, the process ensures that growth and development takes place. This model provides us with a process and structure which we believe can be applied in many individual and groups interventions pertaining to the growth and development of individuals. JvR Consulting Psychologists aims to help people grow by creating awareness and developing their skills and knowledge so that they can fulfill their potential.  To read more about our service offering click here.