Archive for the ‘Career Counselling’ Category

The Strong Interest Inventory

Friday, September 13th, 2019

Self-Directed Search – Career Counselling

Friday, September 13th, 2019

Free Coursera Courses – Career Counselling (Audit only)

Friday, September 13th, 2019

The following career counselling related courses are available at for free (audit only):

Career Decisions: From Insight to Impact


Successful Career Development


Career Brand Development and Self-Coaching

Positive psychology: Article: A movement to reintegrate career counselling within counselling psychology?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019


Positive psychology: A movement to reintegrate career counselling within counselling psychology?

Peter J. Robertson

Some of the earliest applications of professional psychology in the UK to help individuals facing life challenges were focused on issues of vocational choice. Cyril Burt pioneered this work in 1913, and it was developed during the interwar period by the National Institute for Industrial Psychology (Peck, 2004). More than a generation ago, Holdsworth (1982) demonstrated that the application of psychology to issues of career choice and development was well established. Similarly, some of the earliest applications of counselling in the UK were in the context of educational and vocational guidance (Dawis, 1968). In the UK, career counselling features as a context for practice in textbooks on counselling and psychotherapy (e.g. Bailey, 1997; Bimrose, 2000) and in texts focused specifically on counselling psychology (Nelson-Jones, 1982; Kidd, 2003). It also merits its own specialist texts (e.g. Kidd, 2006; Nathan & Hill, 2006). There remains a substantive divide between therapeutic and career counselling in Britain. In part, this can be explained by the dividing lines between the counselling and occupational subdisciplines of psychology, with the latter laying claim to the work domain. The British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology lists career development as one of its areas of activity (BPS, n.d.). More importantly, career guidance in the UK is distinctive in that it developed from state bureaucracies supporting young people in the transition from education to work (Peck, 2004). As Jayasinghe (2001) points out, the UK government policy in this sector has been at best ambivalent, and occasionally hostile to the application of career counselling within education and employment settings. Counselling psychology, occupational psychology and career guidance have emerged as three separate professional training structures in Britain.

This position is not universal. In some countries, most notably in North America, the professions seem comfortable with a more fluid boundary between career and therapeutic counselling. In Canada, involvement in career development is a defining role for counselling psychologists (Lalande, 2004). In the US, counselling psychology’s deep roots in career development establishes its identity as clearly distinct from that of clinical psychology (Neimeyer et al., 2011). The Society for Vocational Psychology is a subsystem of the American Psychological Association Division 17: Society of Counseling Psychology. The term ‘vocational psychology’ encompasses career counselling and the psychology of career choice and development. It features prominently in American counselling psychology texts (e.g. Brown & Lent, 2008), and vocationally themed articles are commonly found in the Journal of Counseling Psychology and Counselling

Psychology Quarterly. Career counselling has drawn on a diverse range of theoretical approaches derived from counselling psychology, including person centred and psychodynamic approaches (Kidd, 2006), systems theory (Patton & McMahon, 1999), motivational interviewing (Young & Stoltz, 2013), cognitive behavioural counselling (Sheward & Branch, 2012), and wider interpretive movements including postmodernism (Savickas, 1993) and constructivism (Reid, 2006).

This paper begins by exploring the relationship between career counselling and counselling psychology, before arguing that the positive psychology movement has the potential to erode the boundary between them. An outline is provided of the concepts from positive psychology that shed light on the potential of career as an arena to build enduring wellbeing. The emerging evidence base is briefly discussed, and finally, a social justice perspective is introduced. Exploring the split between career and therapeutic counselling Even within the counselling psychology profession in the US, career counsellors complain at a divide between the vocational and the therapeutic, with some protesting their equivalence:

‘Career intervention is simply a form of psychological intervention designed to affect vocationally related feelings, attitudes, cognitions, and behaviours. Thus, it is a form of psychotherapy and should be viewed as a method of behaviour change and tied to psychotherapy theory.’ (Rounds & Tinsley, 1984, pp.138–139) It has been suggested that career issues raised by clients are perceived to be of lower status by therapeutic counsellors, who avoid dealing with them (e.g. Spengler, Blustein & Strohmer, 1990). The converse suggestion is that career counsellors prefer brief contact with clients and avoid more personal or emotional issues (e.g. Burlew, 1996). Yet there is evidence that the concerns raised by career counselling clients encompass personal issues and heightened emotions, and are broadly similar to the presenting concerns in general counselling (e.g. Niles, Anderson & Cover, 2000; Fouad et al., 2006). Problems from career and personal domains of life overlap and interact with reciprocal effects (e.g. Hinkelman & Luzzo, 2007; Lenz et al., 2010). Zunker (2008) stresses that mental health problems are pervasive and affect every domain of life, and that work is central to identity and biography. Numerous case studies demonstrate the entanglement of career with other life issues, together with narratives describing how careers counselling resolved them (e.g. Burlew, 1996; Lenz et al., 2010; Pope, Cheng & Leong, 1998). The arguments need not be accepted uncritically. Case study accounts are anecdotal. Also, the debate is one-sided, with most of the contributions coming from vocational psychologists arguing for the integration of career and therapeutic counselling. Nonetheless the case is persuasively made that in spite of entanglement between career and personal/therapeutic issues there remains a split in practice. For Hackett (1993) this is a false dichotomy; for Blustein (2006) an artefact of language. Richardson (1996) attributes the divide to three ‘false splits’ within the discipline of psychology:

> A split between the normal and the pathological.

> A split between the vocational and other aspects of self and identity.

> A split between the public and theprivate domains.

Introducing positive psychology at the intersection of career counselling and counselling psychology Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi (2000) describe positive psychology as a movement that seeks to redress the imbalance created by a dominant pathology-oriented approach to the discipline of psychology. As such it directly addresses the first of Richardson’s splits. The focus of positive psychologists is promotion of wellbeing for the whole population, which is conceptualised as on a mental health continuum rather than divided between clinical and non-clinical groups (Huppert, 2004). It also addresses the second and third splits. Rather than focus on experiences of personal distress, often expressed in the private domain, it focuses attention on healthy functioning in all areas of life, and this must include the work domain, where much of our lives are acted out in public. It could be argued that by transcending the false splits identified by Richardson, positive psychology may go some way towards dissolving the boundary between career and therapeutic practice. Positive psychology has great resonance with career counselling. Eggerth (2008), Robitscheck and Woodson (2006) and Savickas (2008) all argue that vocational psychology has always been focused on strengths or positive functioning, effectively contributing to positive psychology before itwas even invented. Vocational psychology is an area of enquiry that has focused not on symptoms and dysfunction, but on promoting effective functioning in the work (and education) domain, a contribution explicitly acknowledged by Linley (2006) in his discussion of the positive psychology agenda in counselling psychology. The best example of the new realisation of the relevance of positive psychology to careers is a special issue of the Journal of Career Assessment (edited by Walsh, 2008). Here we can find cogent arguments for taking a wellbeing focus, and an argument that vocational psychology already contains within it a valuable health-related body of knowledge: ‘Although a scant literature has specifically addressed the relevance of SWB [subjective wellbeing] for career theory and practice, particularly within an assessment context, a vast vocational psychology literature has dealt with highly related constructs of work values, work adjustment, and job satisfaction.’ (Hartung & Taber, 2008) Application of counselling psychology for mainstream populations in work or educational settings requires culturally appropriate models, so some clinical-style psychotherapies may offer an uncomfortable fit. Positive psychology is not symptom focused, and the promotion of healthy functioning is applicable to the whole population, so it seems to offer something of value here. Some non-clinical applications are made more acceptable by labelling them as‘coaching’. It has been persuasively argued that positive psychology and coaching are natural partners, with the former providing a robust theoretical and empirical foundation to underpin the latter (Boniwell et al., 2014; Linley & Harrington, 2007). Recently in the UK, the brand ‘career coaching’ has frequently replaced career counselling or guidance, and Yates (2012) has argued that positive psychology and career coaching are comfortable bedfellows. Positive psychology’s contribution: Wellbeing concepts that link to work and careers The definition and measurement of wellbeing is a contested area (for a thorough discussion see Forgeard et al., 2011). Nonetheless, positive psychologists have introduced useful wellbeing concepts and  not been slow to link these ideas to work and careers. They have not sought to provide a coherent theoretical explanation of career choice and development, but the key implication of their ideas is that the building of a healthy engagement with work and career is a crucial element of sustainable wellbeing. As their contributions are extensive, the following selection can give only a flavour of the literature.


Eudaimonia is a subtle concept, representing a type of wellbeing encompassing personally meaningful or pro-social activity, and fulfilling one’s true nature. It is invoked as a contrast to hedonia (happiness, pleasure, positive emotion). A strong case can be made for the importance of eudaimonia for wellbeing in general (Deci & Ryan, 2008) and at work (Straume & Vittersø, 2012). Work may provide engaging activity and opportunities for personal growth more often than it provides the experience of pleasure. Eudaimonia… ‘…produces a fuller, more stable and enduring type of happiness than that obtained when one’s goals are more directly hedonistic. Among these enduring positive outcomes are a sense of meaning, subjective vitality, higher quality relationships and better physical health indicators, especially with respect to symptoms related to stress…’ (Ryan, Huta & Deci, 2008, p.163)


Occupational interests have long been a focus of career counselling, and continue to be taken seriously (e.g. Savickas & Spokane, 1999). And they remain a reasonably good predictor of job satisfaction and willingness to persist in a line of work. This focus seems apt when viewed in the light of the positive psychologists’ concept of ‘flow’. The term is used by Csikszentmihalyi (2002) to describe the experience of being absorbed in an activity to an extent that all sense of time is lost and self-consciousness is no longer present. This is seen by Csikszentmihalyi as a source of wellbeing both during the activity and in its influence on the rest of the life-space. From this viewpoint, work does have an important role in generating happiness: Work can be prime time for flow because, unlike leisure, it builds many of the conditions of flow into itself. There are usually clear goals and rules of performance. There is frequent feedback about how well or poorly we are doing. Work usually encourages concentration and minimises distraction, and in many cases it matches the difficulties to your talents and even your strengths. As a result, people often feel more engaged at work than they do at home. (Seligman, 2002, p.175) Dik and Hanson (2008) provide the most thorough discussion linking interests, careers and wellbeing. They suggest interests motivate people to approach new objects, situations and activities. This is a necessary precursor to developing knowledge and achieving goals. Transient affective interest is in itself a kind of (hedonic) wellbeing, but by promoting repeated encounters it facilitates the development of lasting attachment and patterns of behaviour, thus it can lead on to more enduring and eudaimonic forms of wellbeing arising from interests as a stable disposition.

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Myers-Briggs Videos

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Here are a few videos on the topic of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator:


Coaching with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator: A Valuable Tool for Client Self-Awareness.

Monday, July 15th, 2019
Authors:Bower, Kay M.
Source:Journal of Practical Consulting. Winter2015, Vol. 5 Issue 2, p10-18. 9p.

Merrium-Webster’s online dictionary defines “aware” as “feeling, experiencing, or noticing something (such as a sound, sensation, or emotion). The definition of self-awareness brings greater focus: “an awareness of one’s own personality or individuality.” Awareness is a key factor in effective coaching (Whitmore, 2009; ICF). “Unlike eyesight or hearing, in which the norm is good, the norm of our everyday awareness is rather poor” (p. 34). To more fully explore the importance of client self-awareness in coaching, two coaching psychology approaches that have been chosen: Gestalt and Person-Centered.


Gestalt coaching psychology includes the concept of the whole person and awareness-raising to bring about new self-understanding (Allan & Whybrow, 2008). The aim is to help the client explore the world around them in a way that broadens their choices and maximizes their ability to use their capabilities. The coach is to bring authenticity to the relationship, to center the relationship on the client as a whole person, and to focus on awareness-raising for the client (Allan & Whybrow, 2008).


Person-Centered coaching psychology also seeks to establish an authentic, accepting relationship with the client to provide a type of “social environment” in which the client knows they will not be judged or pushed to action (Joseph & Bryant-Jefferies, 2008). The authentic relationship and social environment are created because Person-Centered coaching holds that the client has within him/herself the answers needed to achieve goals and function optimally (Joseph and Bryant-Jefferies, 2008; Stoltzfus, 2005). Thus in person-centered coaching the coach operates with an attitude of affirmation, empathic understanding, and expectation that the client is their own best expert.


In both of these coaching psychologies, there is great emphasis on self-awareness. In Gestalt, self-awareness deepens self-responsibility which frees the client to “become fully themselves, engaging with life to their full potential” (Allan & Whybrow, 2008, p. 137). When applied to coaching, developing greater self-awareness in the client provides the client with a greater set of possible behaviors from which to choose, thus enhancing and deepening the client’s capabilities for relationships and actions (Allan & Whybrow, 2008).


Person- centered coaching psychology includes the creation of “an authentic and emotionally literate relationship [where] people are able to drop their defenses and get to know themselves better, and feel free to make new choices in life” (Joseph & Bryant-Jefferies, 2008: 216). When applied to coaching, this means that the work of the coach is to create the empathetic, unconditionally accepting “social environment” that frees the client from feeling judged or pushed and therefore opens the client to the awareness that allows the client to see new behaviors or actions as beneficial and possible (Joseph & Bryant-Jefferies, 2008; Stoltzfus, 2005).



What is the MBTI?

The MBTI is an instrument that helps individuals to identify the consistent and enduring patterns of how they use their brains. Based on the work of psychologist Carl Jung, the strength of the MBTI is that it provides a coherent approach to expecting different personalities in different people without having to expect complete uniqueness of personality (Myers & Myers, 1995). These personality differences are grouped into patterns that represent “observable differences in mental functioning” (Myers & Myers, 1995, p. 1). These patterns are termed type preferences. Type preferences “can be understood as opposite but related ways of using our minds, with the opposites being two halves that make up a whole” (Martin, 2010, p. 1).

The MBTI is typically completed as an online self-assessment, where the client chooses between opposite but related ways of how they use their mind (Martin, 2010). Based on the client’s reported preferences, each client is assigned one of 16 MBTI Types and a profile of the client is produced that describes the identified MBTI Type.



Why Use the MBTI?

The MBTI has a number of benefits for the coach-client relationship when the goal is to develop client self-awareness. From a coaching perspective, the greatest benefit is the self- and other-awareness that is gained when using the MBTI. When Jung created his theory of Psychological Types, he created it as an “aid to self-understanding” (Myers &Myers, 1995, p. 24). Katherine Myers and her daughter, Isabel Myers Briggs, worked to extend the application of Jung’s work beyond self-understanding of how individuals use their minds to the practical implications of those preferences on everyday interactions such as communication, decision-making, and relationships (Myers & Myers, 1995).

Myers et al.(2009) state that the MBTI “seeks to identify a respondent’s status on either one or the other of two opposite personality categories, both of which are regarded as neutral in relation to emotional health, intellectual functioning, and psychological adaptation” (p. 5). Thus the MBTI is focusing on individuals with normal psyche and draws no value judgments about “good” or “bad” personality preferences.

The MBTI also does not seek to measure how little or how much (e.g., deficits or abundance) of personality preferences an individual has. Instead, MBTI measures how clearly a respondent prefers that personality trait, reflecting the level of confidence the coach and client can place on the respondent’s results (Myers et al., 2009).

Also, the MBTI is a self-report instrument. This means that an essential part of coaching using the MBTI is to explore the tool with the client and perform an in-the-moment self-assessment before giving the client the generated report. This allows the client to verify the reported results and thereby gain confidence in their own expertise about their preferences. Myers et al.(2009) have determined that “MBTI results to do not ‘tell’ a person who she or he is. Rather, individual respondents are viewed as experts who are best qualified to judge the accuracy of the type descriptions that result from their self-report” (p. 5).

A final benefit of using the MBTI is its accessibility. Based on my coaching experience, the four preference scales are simply presented within the different materials available and clients have little difficulty in understanding the scales. Because the MBTI is neither predictive nor prescriptive, clients feel open to reading the overview descriptions of their self-verified type and frequently agree that the description matches their preferences.

This self-verified agreement is a hallmark of the MBTI. Using the most current version of the MBTI complete form (known as Form M), research has demonstrated a 76.3% rate of agreement between respondent’s reported type and verified type (Krause &Thompson, 2008). This high degree of agreement increases client confidence in the MBTI, aiding the process of deepening self-awareness (Myers et al., 2009).



Using the MBTI in Coaching


When the MBTI is used within a coaching relationship, clients are enabled to expand and deepen their self-awareness (Myers &Myers, 1995; Hirsch & Kise, 2011; Passmore et al., 2007), which moves clients forward in the achievement of goals / the optimization of their potential.

According to Consulting Psychology Press, the MBTI is useful in many different applications, including team development, leadership development, interpersonal skills development, conflict management, executive and line manager coaching, stress management, and career transition and planning. Myers and Myers (1995) developed specific guidance for using the type preferences identified through the MBTI to apply to topics including marriage, early learning, learning styles, and occupation.

As a result of the broad application potential of the MBTI, coaches can use the MBTI to deepen self-awareness in their clients. They can also use the MBTI to deepen clients’ other-awareness, focusing on how others differences may impact the client’s effectiveness in communication, conflict, leadership, and team building (Kroeger et al., 2002).

Kroeger et al.(2002) argue for the development of MBTI-based insights that enable clients to “turn the main differences among us into powerful tools instead of divisive intrusions” (p. 4). Gaining greater self-and other-awareness through the MBTI allows clients to constructively and objectively view actions others take as a celebration of differences rather than perceiving those differences as “bad” or “insulting” (Kroger et al., 2002).




I will now describe the practice of deepening self-and other awareness using the MBTI within a coaching relationship through a case study from my own coaching experience. Within the coaching relationships that I establish, there are several key tenets:

  • The client, guided and informed by the Holy Spirit, is their own best expert.
  • Awareness raising is necessary to broaden the client’s self-understanding and to provide the client with understanding of the differences in others’ preferences that will influence interpersonal interactions and relationships.
  • Deeper knowledge of self will aid and support the client’s ability to define and achieve specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals.
Many of my clients are seeking answers or improvement in the areas of:
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Career
  • Conflict management
  • Followership
  • Inter-personal, professional relationships
  • Managing difficult employees

In the type of coaching I do, where the client is guided by the Holy Spirit and self-and other-awareness, it is critical to have an excellent tool to help the client deepen self-and other-awareness. I’ve found the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to be that tool.


Case Study

At “Beth’s” first coaching session, she was reeling from the shock of confronting views others’ held of her that conflicted sharply with her own self-understanding. As the Administrative Pastor of a large Pennsylvania church congregation, Beth’s duties were far-flung, involving oversight of the cleaning staff, management of the insurance policies of the church, creating and maintaining the church website, as well as running the church coffee café every Sunday, among other responsibilities. Her focus on doing all things with excellence and her forthright manner of dealing with others had caused members of the church staff to tell her she was “mean,” a perfectionist who was not willing to work with others as a team. The criticism and difficulties in staff interactions had reached such a significant level that Beth stated her goal for the coaching relationship was to determine whether to leave the ministry and return to her former career as areal estate broker.

Beth did not see herself as mean, perfectionistic, unwilling to work with a team, or too forthright. When she described herself, Beth used words like dedicated, a strong leader, effective, and someone who gets things done. Beth felt that often other staff members seemed to be capable only of envisioning and could never get the needed details defined and organized. Beth felt her true benefit to the church and its staff was her ability to be an organized thinker who got the details done well.

To begin the journey of self-awareness, Beth agreed to take the MBTI. Her self-verified type preferences included extraverted thinking with sensing, ESTJ. Characterized by Hirsch and Kise (2011) as the “Take-Charge Leader,” Beth learned that her preferences included “providing direction and focus to project and people, working toward goal completion” (Hirsch &Kise, 2011, p. 26).

As Beth began to deepen her self-awareness by exploring her MBTI preferences, she gained insight into the communication styles that caused others on staff to label her as “mean” and a perfectionist. She also found that her preferences for providing structure and direction, establishing policies and procedures, and finding the flaws and seeking to correct them contributed to the staff’s perceptions of perfectionism.

Beth began to understand at a sensory level that she was different from the rest of the staff in terms of preferences. Deeper exploration helped Beth grasp the details of her sense of “being different.” Through research I provided, Beth learned that her SJ preferences in the general US population were represented in approximately 42% of the population (Martin, 2010) but were only 29% within researched clergy populations (Oswald & Kroeger, 2002). Even more startling, the majority preference type found among clergy was actually NF at 42% (Oswald & Kroeger, 2002), a preference represented in just 16% of the US population (Martin, 2010).

The MBTI types that use intuition for data gathering and make values-based decisions prefer a very different set of approaches from Beth’s. Typically NFs prefer abstract communications, finding patterns and relationships between ideas rather than looking for facts and details as SJs prefer (Kiersey, 1998). Relationships and harmony within those relationships are central to the NFs interactions with others (Kroeger et al., 2002). The SJs focus on “telling it like it is” in a forthright manner easily causes the NF offense. The approach to leadership is also vastly different between NFs and SJs. The NF prefers collaboration and bringing others into their goals through their passion and vision, while the SJ prefers to lead from a position of authority where compliance is required and commitment is expected (Kroeger et al., 2002).

Having this information helped Beth confirm her sense that she was “different” in her MBTI preferences than those typically found among clergy. Beth’s deepened self-awareness and her new other-awareness caused her to realize that she needed to more fully examine her own preferences and how those preferences manifested in her behavior and interactions with others.

The outcome of this examination was deepened self-awareness of Beth’s preferences and how those preferences, in large part, differed significantly from most of the other clergy and staff at her church. As a result, Beth determined to use a more balanced approach to her communication, leadership, and decision making.

While there were times of challenge and difficulty for Beth in modifying her behavior to be more inclusive of the preferences of other people with other MBTI types, the work brought great results. Beth not only stayed in ministry, she was able to work with others on staff to reallocate her responsibilities, passing ownership of some programs to other clergy as well as working with staff members and volunteers to redesign and loosen procedures to accommodate others’ preferences for communication and interaction.



Self-awareness is a key component of the coaching relationship (Whitmore, 2009; ICF) that enables clients to see themselves more broadly and opens up opportunities for new actions and behaviors. For clients to reach new insights and deepen self-awareness, some type of self-examination or assessment is necessary. The MBTI helps coaches facilitate clients’ efforts to deepen self-awareness and broaden their perspectives. As this is accomplished, clients are able to define and achieve goals related to many different areas including communication, leadership, team building, career development, stress management, and relationships.



Podcast: How The Myers-Briggs Personality Test Began In A Mother’s Living Room Lab

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Click here for the article and podcast.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Full Text

Type of psychology: Personality

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is one of the more commonly used inventories for normal personality analysis. The inventory identifies preferences from four polar dimensions that result in a four-letter code. The latest version provides a more individualized report by including facets for each letter in the code. The possible combinations of preferences produce sixteen personality types.


The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is based on the theory of psychological types developed by Swiss-born psychiatrist Carl Jung. Jung believed that human behavior was predictable and therefore could be classified. He viewed differences in behavior to be the result of innate preferences that remained fairly consistent throughout life. Behavior that is often viewed as random is actually orderly and consistent as a result of these preferences. The purpose of identifying these preferences was not for people to change them but, through life’s maturing process, to become more adept in areas that were not among their preferences. Jung’s orientation was more on wellness than on the abnormal.

Portrait of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, 1875–1961 (sitting at desk). Library of Congress

The English edition of Jung’s Psychologische Typen (1921; Psychological Types, 1923) received limited attention when it was first published and remained relatively unknown for years. At the time, Freudian psychology was popular in Europe, and behaviorism was widely accepted in the United States. Jung’s orientation was holistic, viewing many physical and emotional illnesses as the result of an imbalance of the mind, body, and spirit. As Jung aged, he increased his emphasis on spiritual and religious aspects.

Following World War II, Katharine Cook Myers and her daughter, Isabel Myers Briggs, became interested in psychological typology and were especially intrigued by Jung’s work. After careful study of Jung’s theory, they designed an inventory based on his identification of psychological types; this inventory has become known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Jungian Typology

Jung referred to extroversion and introversion as attitudes. Energy for the extrovert flows outward to people, things, and events in the external world. Energy for the introvert is directed inward toward subjective, internal awareness.

Jung identified four functions (polarities), two rational and two irrational. The two rational functions, thinking and feeling, are used for judging and evaluating information. The two irrational functions, sensing and intuition, are considered perception functions.

When people use the thinking polarity, they evaluate information according to a logical, impersonal analysis. Making a decision requires sufficient, valid data and reason. When people use the feeling polarity, they show a preference for making a subjective calculation. They will evaluate information by personal values, by the degree of importance given the judgment, and by the degree to which others might be affected by the decision.

In addition to Jung’s attitudes and two functions, Myers and Briggs added a fourth element, an orientation. (Myers consulted with Jung just before his death relative to the addition.) Orientation is the preference for ordering outer life and is labeled as either judging or perceiving. Those who prefer judging manage their outer world with organization, scheduling, and planning. Those with a perceiving orientation use a more open, adaptable, flexible style.

Development of the Indicator

Myers and Briggs designed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to provide a reliable instrument that would make Jung’s theory of psychological types understandable and useful for everyday applications. The primary distinction of the Myers-Briggs inventory is its focus on normal personality, with all sixteen types being equally acceptable. A later version, MBTI Step II (1962), includes specific facets to provide a more individualized approach for each letter in the code.

The basic form of the MBTI produces a four-letter code that simply identifies four categories of preference, each of which is described as slight, moderate, clear, or very clear preference The four dimensions of the code show preferences for stimuli from the outer world (E, for extroversion) or inner self (I, for introversion), for information that comes through the five senses (S, for sensing) or information that comes through intuiting the total picture (N, for intuition), for decision making based on logic and facts (T, for thinking) or on personal values and other people (F, for feeling), and an outside world that is planned and systematic (J, for judging) or open and spontaneous (P, for perceiving).

There has been criticism surrounding the instrument’s reliability and validity. Some studies have called the instrument’s test-retest validity—the ability of the same individual to get the same result after taking the test twice within a short period of time—into question; one 1996 study found that 50 percent of people remained the same type when tested twice within a nine-month period, while 36 percent remained the same type when retested after more than nine months. Several studies have also found that test-takers’ results on each scale tended to follow a normal distribution, with the majority of people falling somewhere toward the middle of the scale and very few people showing a strong inclination toward one end or the other, which, some researchers believe, suggests that most people do not fall as strongly into a type as MBTI supporters have argued. Additionally, some have raised concerns regarding the fact that, unlike similar psychological instruments such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, the MBTI has no built-in scale to determine inconsistency or exaggeration in responses, making it more difficult to tell when an individual is answering dishonestly. However, there are other studies that have found support for the construct validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability of the instrument, and the MBTI remains in use both inside and outside of the psychological community.

The MBTI has become one of the more commonly used personality inventories for normal personality analysis. Results from interpretative reports are used in corporations, hospitals, and educational institutions for team building, personnel development, and career and student guidance.


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