Professional self-awareness of post-soviet practicing psychologists

A.F. Bondarenko


The article presents results of experimental research of post-soviet practicing psychologists’ self-awareness in its psychosemantic structure. The sample comprised 82 highly qualified practicing psychologists from CIS. The data received allowed more precise definition of approaches and methods of counseling and therapy, reasons for their preference both with ideas of the practicing psychologists as to the means, targets and conceptual bases of their professional work. Psychosemantic research methods made it possible to objectivize principal trends in subjective differentiating by the practicing psychologists those variables, which describe different aspects of the psychological practice and define its specific features in the post-soviet cultural area. It is ascertained that technical methods in psychotherapy and counseling are preferred by psychologists with non-worked out their own personal problems, while a low level of professional self-awareness explains a discorance of the declared and authentic models of counseling and therapy.

Key words: post-soviet practicing psychologists, professional self-awareness, psychosemantics, approaches of counseling and therapy, therapeutic techniques, declared and authentic models of practicing, factor analysis, cluster analysis.

Introduction: background of the problem

Research strategies in exploring professional self-awareness of a practicing psychologist vary greatly and comprise a number of definite questions: general professional notions of students studying psychology [5]; professional adaptation of the beginners in counseling and the premises of their successful work [15, 16]; professional stereotypes of psychologists and counselors [12; 14]; influence of personal peculiarities upon professional choices and preferences in practical psychology [8; 11]; study of psychologists’ professional identity [2; 4]; the structure of professional self-awareness of psychologists [6], dynamics of professional reflection among the practicing psychologists [9; 13] etc.

Configurations of individual professional self-awareness reflect the socially determined occupational structure, its principles and the subjective way of implementing them into the practice of counseling and therapy as they are interiorized and acquired by an individual in the process of accumulating professional competence as the major condition of occupational socialization.

In the model, proposed from our previous results [3, pp. 178—181] we adhere to the point of view, according to which there might be outlined three levels of a professional`s representation to the social institutions.

The first, role level of representation, reflects the occupational norms, ethical principles and moral accepted by the professional in the process of identification with his/her profession. In the structure of self-awareness this component is represented with regulate and coordinate professional behavior of a psychologist. The second level, “technological”, describes the proper professional competence of a specialist, which is represented in his/her self-awareness concerning knowledge and skills, reflecting the subject matter of the professional work.

The third level, the “subject of activity”, presupposes the structuring of all components of professional development in the holistic system of references, concerning Self as a professional and a personality. This is the level incorporating “functional Self” and “personal Self” into one holistic “Existential Self”, when professional development is treated as the way of a personality growth, the way of objectivizing personal senses and meanings in the results of his/her professional activity. In the structure of professional self-awareness this level is reflected in the contiguity of professional and personal motives and interests, values and senses suggested by the professional and constructed by personality herself. The offered model allows definition of professional self-awareness in general as an integral system of norms, aims, motives, values and meanings, which coordinate socially stipulated, operationally-substantial and personally significant aspects of professional activity. Meanwhile a separate investigational problem is represented by realization itself, i.e. his/her inner intelligible conceptual picture, which provides valuable theoretical and practical orientation both in approaches and means of therapeutic and counseling activity.

Experimental investigation of practicing psychologists’ professional awareness of the used counseling and therapy models and approaches objectivizes the technological component of the given conceptual model. According to results of investigations [2; 4] specialist’s professional competence is assured by professional self-awareness of value concerning theoretical conceptions and approaches, which now exist in the practice of counseling and therapy, by forms and methods of psychological influence, as well as concerning problem type and patient/client type. In such investigation experiment methodology should comprise both subjective ratings of subject`s activity according to several basic psychological practice parameters and degree of orientation and significance of professional preferences in different conceptual approaches. The investigation of authentic in contrast with declared range of counseling and therapeutic approaches and means allows to understand the true situation in this field on the present stage of post-soviet practical psychology development.

Aims and Tasks

On the given phase of experimental investigation we’ve outlined the following tasks: 1. to reconstruct structure of practicing psychologists’ self-awareness, which, in its turn, will allow to build a generalized concept of the existing ways and models of counseling and therapy; 2. to ascertain presence and specific determination of used therapeutic model peculiarities by some practicing psychologist’s personal features. The investigation results give us an idea about specificity of professional activity theoretic-methodological basis realization in his/her real practice of counseling and therapy. Investigation of such kind presents factological, but not declared description of really occurring events in the psychological aid practice sphere. Thus, the given investigation’s general aim consists in studying genuine practicing psychologists’ professional conceptions-orientations in ways, means and conceptual basis (approaches) of their activity, which, practically speaking, reveals professional self-awareness as it is.

Methods and Procedures

The sample comprised 82 participants (practicing psychologists with length of practice from 2 to 25 years).

The given research’s methodological set of instruments consists of:
1. Seven-mark estimative scale for the following counseling and therapeutic practice structural parameters estimation: theoretical conception of psychological practice (classical psychoanalysis of S. Freud, analytical psychology of C. Jung, individual psychology of A. Adler, transactional analysis of E. Berne, behavioral conception, rational-emotive therapy of A. Ellis, cognitive psychotherapy of A. Beck, existential psychotherapy, client-centered conception of C. Rogers, F. Perls’ gestalt-therapy, S. Grof’s psychodrama, J. Grinder’s and R. Bendler’s neurolinguistic programming).

Technical methods of psychological influence (free associations analysis, dreams interpretation, interpretation itself, “early reminiscences” method, paradox intention method, role plays, hypnosis technique, guided imaginary, projective tests, systematic desensibilisation, relaxation training, adequate self-expression training, standardized tests and their interpretation, cognitive home task, drawing tests, resistance and transpherense analysis, defense mechanisms analysis, empathic listening, holotropic breathwork ).

Counseling and therapeutic aims (teaching new behavior, overcoming emotional traumas, realizing unconsciousness, rising general psychological competence level, reflection development, strengthening Ego, deepening self-understanding, lowering inferiority feeling, widening personal consciousness, realization and correction of life aims and motives); professional positions (non-intervention position, partner’s position, socio-psychological model bearer position, empathic position, position of an analyst with diagnostic aim, personally closed position, trainer-instructor position, personally open position).

Beside the named parameters, this scale takes into account basic moments of professional development (work experience with clients, work with co-psychotherapist, attending courses and seminars, work with supervisor and consultant, reading books and magazines in specialty, other therapists’ work observation on seminars, in educational films, in video records, taking counseling as a client, executing duties of supervisor or consultant in work with others, delivering lectures and seminars, experience of investigational work, life experience beside therapy).

2. SMALL test, which is standardized and validated short variant of MMPI test. The data was analyzed with the help of factor analysis of the whole data massif, cluster analysis of separate parameters indices and ranging method of separate parameters mean indices.


An initial matrix for the Principal Components factor analysis was formed on the basis of evaluations made by 82 participants from Kiev, Minsk, St. Petersborough, Moscow, Kharkow, Odessa, Donetsk and other cities of CIS along 67 points of a specially designed questionnaire including statistical data, such as: sex, age, record, scientific degree, membership in professional organizations, specialized training, plus evaluations along the indicated earlier headings such as: theoretical approaches, techniques, targets of counseling and therapy, professional positions and attitudes with the scales of the SMALL test. Thus, the matrix dimensionality was 82´67.

As a result of the factor analysis (Principal Components method) there were extracted 4 principal factors, explaining correspondingly 14.2%, 8.6%, 7.9% and 7.3% of the general dispersion with the truncation coefficient ³ 0,50.
The first major factor (F1), comprising 14,2% of dispersion was formed with the following scales:

  • Existential therapy (as a theoretical conception): 0,84
  • Defense mechanisms analysis (as a technique): 0,77
  • Analytical psychology of C. Jung (as a theoretical conception): 0,68
  • Resistance and transference analysis (as a technique): 0,65
  • F.Perls’ Gestalt therapy (as a conception): 0,65
  • Empathizing position (professional): 0,60
  • Awareness of the unconscious (aims of therapy): 0,60

As it follows from the data received, the principal factor includes theoretical conceptions and techniques of existential-humanistic and psychodynamic approaches in counseling and therapy. This was termed “Existential and psychodynamic preferences”. High factor loadings on the scales with their rich in contents monosemantics (only psychodynamic and humanistic scales are included in the major factor) explicitly fix a distinct tendency to confine these two psychotherapeutic approaches in the present-day practice of counseling and therapy. It is evident, that these priorities reflect a hierarchy of the determinants of those psychic causalities, which are realized as the most significant and which do not contradict to the employed methods of work, i.e. to the techniques and to the expected results inside the professional reflection of a post-soviet practicing psychologist. This combination of the approaches, badly compatible at first sight and even denying each other, reveals one common feature aptly defined by Al. Sosland with the term “superegoiness” (18, p. 311).

The second (partial) factor (F2) comprised 8,6% of the dispersion. The following scales formed the factor:

  • Length of service – 0,82
  • Gender – 0,73
  • Age – 0,70
  • Scientific degree – 0,64
  • Techniques of hypnosis (methods of it) – 0,62

The totality of all these parameters, united by the factor 2, reflect the level of a professional’s experience, which is largely determined by the fact of a real practical work in counseling and therapy (the scale “length of service”), by the direction to its scientific grounds (the scale “scientific degree”) and by his or her own life experience beyond the mere professional activity (the scale “age”). The fact of a high factorial loading at the scale “gender” is rather interesting as it signifies the importance of different scale sign in the partial factor, which underlines the gender of a respondent. As far as women prevailed in the sample selection (60%), while the factor loading coefficient proved to be marked with the “plus” sign, showing the meaning, coinciding with the signification attributed initially to the males, it makes sense to presuppose that F2 in either event encloses sexual determinant (“femininity – masculinity”) as the independent scale, more definite influence of which deserves a special research. The factor was named as “Experience”.

The third partial factor (F3) describes 7,9% of the general dispersion and is presented with the following scales.

  • Behavior approach (theoretical conception) – 0,74
  • The bearer of the socio-psychological model (professional position) – 0,69
  • Trainer’s (instructor’s) position (professional position) – 0,69.

This factor (F 3) makes objective and vivid the significance of the theoretical-methodological conceptualizations of the behavioral approach and psychologist’ behavior models, characteristic of the given way of counseling and therapy in real practice. As it is clear from the specific and rather definite list of the scale descriptions, the factor in a quite distinct way reflects the essence of the professional ideas and preferences of a number of psychologists who adhere to the behavioral approach, which relate to the methods, role positions and patterns of behavior in the behaviorally oriented model of counseling and therapy. Taking into consideration its contents, this factor was termed “The behavioral approach”. 

The forth factor (F4) was formed of 7,3% of the general dispersion. It included the following scales:

  • Scale 7 (SMALL) – 0,75
  • Scale 8 (SMALL) – 0,67
  • NLP (as a theoretic conception) – 0,58
  • Guided imagery (as a technique) – 0,55

This partial factor is rather interesting too. Its contents takes in the generalized dimension of the professional beliefs and opinions, which directly relate to some personal features (traits) of the practicing psychologists, namely: with the scale of anxiety (Ps scale of MMPI) and the scale of individualism (Sch scale of MMPI). In contradiction to other factors, this variable, determining the conceptual frame of the professional self-awareness is caused by the combination of internal tension, anxiety, peculiar instrumental cutting oneself both off the client/patient personality and off the richness of contents of this or that conception or approach. It is distinctive in a way of being loaded with vivid preferences of the mere techniques – from strictly formalized to less technically refined. In other words, this partial factor opens slightly the specificity of the professional identification of a number of psychologists, the essence of which is in the fact that some of them prefer their complex of inferiority of guilt to compensate by the way of concentrating on the mere technical aspects of psychological influence, not having possibilities of personal power enough for working out (reprocessing) their own personal problems. And in so doing they put their own personality beyond the psychotherapeutic space and process. This factor, taking its jungian scale into consideration, was named “Psychotechnical isolation”.

Thus, the totality of the generalized measures of the conceptual frame of professional self-awareness among the practicing psychologists might be described with the following number of factors:

  • Existential and psychodynamic preferences
  • Professional experience
  • Behavioral approaches
  • Psychotechnical isolation

In other words, the gained factors represent a very specific spectrum of conceptual beliefs and opinions, which determine the existing psychological practice and characterize both the impact of the major therapeutic approaches and the specificity of actual psychologists’ behavior in the counseling or therapy situations. In order to more fully investigate the existing regularities in choosing and putting into practice the preferred models of therapy or counseling by the practicing psychologists it is necessary to process the data by analyzing them according to the thematic fragments (headings) of the approach: theoretic conception, techniques of work, professional positions, aims and targets in the therapy or counseling process.

The cluster analysis of the evaluations reflecting the frequency of using this or that approach in the practice of counseling and therapy, illustrates the type of classifying them as objects.

As one may see from the received tree of classification (Fig. 1) these three clusters might be outlined. The first cluster includes:

  • Adler’s individual psychology (3),
  • C. Jung’s analytical psychology (2),
  • S. Freud’s classical psychoanalysis (1)
  • and J. Moreno’s psychodrama (17).

Close to this cluster conception of E. Berne’s transactional analysis is placed (4). The second cluster is formed of;

  • C.Rogers’ client-centered therapy (9),
  • existential conception (8) and F.Perls’ gestalt-therapy (10).

On the level of 12,3 gradual similarity scale both these clusters unite into one, confirming in so doing the tendency, revealed by the major factor (F 1), towards integrating existential-humanistic and psychosemantic approaches in counseling and therapy. The third cluster includes: rational-emotive A, Ellis’ therapy (6) and A. Beck’s cognitive therapy (7). Low level of similarity (position 10,5 on a gradual scale) of the objects, forming this cluster, reflects the fact, that a real basis for them being united is formed by the indications of a functional-situational nature but not by those of object ones.

Designations of the approaches, which are not included in the composition of the cluster formation are placed here in the following way: NLP conception (13) takes place close, on the one hand, to the cluster of cognitive-oriented conceptions, on the other hand, to the behavioral approach (5). The last position is taken by S. Grof’s transpersonal psychology (12). The arrangement of classification objects, which were not included in clusters, reflects the character of their representation in practicing psychologists’ consciousness. We can say that behavioral conception, NLP method and transpersonal psychology represent themselves in the psychologists’ consciousness as separate, independent conceptions of psychological work. Remarkable is the tendency to delimitate cognitively oriented and behavioral conceptions.

Ranking mean indices, which were given by the participants to every object in the given rubric (counseling and therapeutic theoretical conceptions), supplement the analysis of practicing psychologists’ awareness concerning their practice preferences in favor of conceptual basis of these or those approaches (table 1).

Similarity levels

Numbers of classification objects

Fig. 1. Classification tree of counseling and therapy theoretical conceptions

According to the ranking results, existential-humanistic and behavioral approaches are of primary importance in psychological practice. Most rarely the following conceptions are used: neuro-linguistic programming, transpersonal psychology and rational therapy. Meanwhile, noticeable is the fact, that even conceptions taking the first positions, have received average indices. This fact can be explained in the following way: psychologists are not disposed to confine themselves to the limits of a separate conception, but tend to use a combination of several approaches.

Table 1
Results of theoretical conceptions’ distribution according to ranks

No Rank Counseling and therapeutic theoretical conceptions Mean indices
1. 1. C. Rogers’ client-centered conception 3,4
2. 2. Existential psychotherapy 3,3
3.   F. Perls’ gestalt-therapy 3,0
4. Behavioral conception  
5. 4. C. Jung’s analytical psychology 2,4
6. 5. E. Berne’s transactional analysis 2,3
7. 6. A. Adler’s individual psychology 2,1
8. A. Beck’s cognitive psychotherapy  
9. 7. S. Freud’s classic psychoanalysis 2,0
10. 8. J. Moreno’s psychodrama 1,9
11. 9. A. Ellis’ rational-emotive psychotherapy 1,5
12. S. Grof’s transpersonal psychology  
13. 10. J. Grinder’s and R. Bendler’s neuro-linguistic programming. 1,4

Cluster and ranking indices analysis, exposing the frequency of application of the given therapeutic technical methods by psychologists in their practice, reflects, correspondently, the subjective classification character of these objects and tendencies concerning separate technical methods or their combinations’ application.

As one can see from the obtained classification tree (fig.2), it is possible to distinguish three small object classes (clusters). The first separate cluster includes the items:


  • free associations analysis (1),
  • dreams interpretation (2),
  • “early reminiscences” method (4)
  • and paradox intention method (5).

The second cluster comprises:

  • interpretation method (3),
  • resistance and transference analysis (16),
  • defense mechanisms analysis (17).

It is evident that these separate clusters form one, integrating cluster (on the 12,1 similarity level), which embraces psychodynamic approaches as a whole (from S. Freud up to A. Adler and C. Jung).

Projective tests (9), drawing tests (15), standardized tests (13) and relaxation training (11) form the above cluster. Those items, which are not included in clusters (6 – role plays, 7 – hypnosis technique, 8 – guided imaginary, 10 – systematic desensibilization, 12 – adequate self-expression training, 14 – cognitive home task, 18 – empathic listening, 19 – holotropic breathwork) are disposed in the adjacent branches of two significant, though not equal, clusters, reflecting their relatively independent significance in the professional self-awareness psychosemantic space.

According to results of ranking mean indices, given separately to every psychotechnic method (table 2), empathic listening is the therapeutic technique most frequently used by psychologists. Test methods (projective, drawing, standardized) indices are higher than mean. Low ranked in application frequency are holotropic breathwork, hypnosis technique, systematic desensibilization and “early reminiscences” technique.

Similarity levels

Numbers of classification objects

Fig. 2. Classification tree of counseling and therapeutic techniques

Table 2
Results of techniques’ distribution according to ranks

No Rank Technique Mean indices
1. 1. Empathic listening 5,1
2. 2. Projective tests 3,9
3. 3. Drawing tests 3,8
4. 4. Standardized tests and their interpretation 3,7
5. 5. Relaxation training 3,4
6. 6. Role plays 3,3
7. 7. Interpretation 3,1
8. Defense mechanisms analysis
9. 8. Guided imaginary 2,7
10. Cognitive home task
11. 9. Resistance and transference analysis 2,1
12. Adequate self-expression training
13. Dreams interpretation
14. Paradox intention method
15. 10. Free associations analysis 2,0
16. 11. “Early reminiscences” method 1,9
17. 12. Systematic desensibilization 1,8
18. 13. Hypnosis technique 1,0
19. Holotropic breathwork

How often psychologists prefer this or that role position and whether there exist any correlations (laws)– we can judge on the base of ranking and cluster analysis results of indices.
Cluster analysis results (fig. 3) place all the items into two groups. The first, larger group comprises the following professional positions:

  • non-intervention position (1),
  • personally closed position (6),
  • socio-psychological model bearer position (3),
  • trainer-instructor position (7)
  • and analyst position (4).

The second, smaller cluster includes:

  • partner’s position (2),
  • empathic position (8)
  • and personally open position (6).

Thus, classification objects’ distribution reflects the fact that in a post-Soviet psychologist’s self-awareness there exist only two variants of professional behavior or relation styles: “didactic-oriented” and “partner-liberal”.

Similarity levels

Numbers of classification objects

Fig. 3. Classification tree of practicing psychologist’s professional positions

According to the results of the given objects ranking on the base of their mean indices (table 3), in the professional communication (interaction) situation the most frequent are: partner’s position, empathic position, personally open position. Role positions, which are typical for directive professional interaction forms (non-intervention position, personally closed position and socio-psychological model bearer position), occupy the last ranks in the table.

Table 3
Results of professional positions’ distribution according to ranks

No Rank Professional position Mean indices
1. 1. Partner’s position 4,8
2. 2. Empathic position 4,2
3. 3. Personally open position 4,0
4. 4. Trainer-instructor position 2,9
5. 5. Analyst position (diagnostic aim) 2,8
6. 6. Social-psychological model bearer 2,4
7. 7. Non-intervention position 2,2
8. 8. Personally closed position 1,4

Work aims, typical for different counseling and therapeutic approaches were also an object of subjective evaluation. The given objects’ hierarchical structure, received in the result of cluster analysis, consists of two clusters (fig. 4). 
The first, larger cluster includes:

  • teaching new behavior (1),
  • overcoming emotional traumas (2),
  • lowering inferiority feeling (8),
  • realizing unconsciousness (3),
  • strengthening Ego (7).

The second cluster comprises:

  • rising general psychological competence level (4),
  • reflection development (5),
  • deepening self-understanding (6),
  • widening personal consciousness (9),
  • realization and correction of life aims and motives (10).

In the most general sense they can be named, accordingly, “clinical” and “educational-correctional” clusters. Such disposition of classification objects, which present possible counseling aims variations, ascertains both the way the tasks are formulated and the activity results seen by a specialist.

Similarity levels

Numbers of classification objects

Fig. 4. Classification tree of counseling and therapeutic aims

Ranking results (table 4) of mean indices, attributed by participants to the given counseling aims formulations, show that being realized by professional practicing psychologists the following therapeutic aims seem to be the most significant: deepening self-understanding, rising general psychological competence level, realization and correction of life aims and motives. Thus, subjectively practicing psychologists are inclined to prefer (on the declared priorities level) nonspecific counseling aims; and the aims’ correctness, connected either with a definite approach or with a specific problem (e.g. emotional trauma), is removed to the sphere of a specific psychotherapeutic approach and conception.

Table 4.
Results of counseling and therapeutic aims’ distribution according to ranks

No Rank Counseling and therapeutic aims Mean indices
1. 1. Deepening self-understanding 4,7
2. 2. Rising general psychological competence level 4,4
3. 3. Realization and correction of life aims and motives 4,3
4. 4. Widening personal conscience 4,2
5. 5. Reflection development 4,0
6. Overcoming emotional traumas
7. 6. Lowering inferiority feeling 3,9
8. 7. Teaching new behavior 3,7


8. Realizing unconsciousness 2,8
10. 9. Strengthening Ego 2,5

Awareness of the professional development basic moments, which were as well taken into account during this research planning, allows to describe the practicing psychologist professionalization process specificity more objectively, to outline the most significant determinants of his/her professional growth, which have appeared in real situation of practicing psychologist professional existence. 

Ranking results of professional development factors’ mean indices (table 5) show that the most significant in professional formation for practicing psychologists are their own work experience with clients, reading books and magazines in specialty and life experience beside therapy. The last ranks in the table are occupied by: executing duties of supervisor or consultant in work with others, work with co-psychotherapist, work with supervisor and consultant and taking counseling or therapy as a client. This indices distribution vividly illustrates the practicing psychologist’s professional development specificity. Because of such extremely significant professionalizational aspects as supervisor institution and taking own counseling or therapy by specialist are not developed, practicing psychologists’ professional formation is carried out in the regime of self-education and learning from own mistakes. Priority place of own life experience beside psychotherapy among other professional development parameters presents one more argument in favor of the partial factor “Professional experience”, in which “age” variable has high factor loading.

Table 5
Results of professional development factors’ distribution according to ranks

No Rank Professional development factors Mean indices
1. 1. Work experience with clients 5,0
2. 2. Reading books and magazines 4,6
3. 3. Life experience beside psychotherapy 4,5
4. 4. Attending courses, seminars 4,2
5. 5. Other therapists’ work observation on seminars, in educational films, in video records 4,0
6. Informal discussion with colleagues
7. 6. Experience of investigational work 3,3
8. 7. Conditions of the present work 3,2
9.   Delivering lectures and seminars  
10. 8. Taking counseling or therapy as a client 2,8
11.   Work with supervisor or consultant  
12.   Work with co-psychotherapist  
13. 9. Executing duties of supervisor or consultant in work with others 1,7


Attempts to look deep into a reality of psychological determination of the human purposeful activity cannot be successful without analyzing the self-awareness processes. These processes should include both the proper contents and means of the activity, especially in the field of counseling and therapy. Without going into details we would like to point out just two theses, relating to the importance of self-awareness investigation. The first one belongs to A. Leontiev and underlines significance of distinction between “the known” and “the authentic” motives of behavior. The second one belongs to V. Lefevre and it goes this way: “… only if a human being is able to realize any created model, he or she has a chance to have a correct model of his/her behavior” [10, 12]. 

Setting to study the subjective vision of post-Soviet practicing psychologists, relating to their self-awareness we proceeded from the assumption that a system of meanings and a system of self-analysis concerning these meaning would not coincide. So much the more interesting should be correlation of them in the received results.

Already the first data received in this investigation revealed the following features of the professional “subjective semantic space”: first, the dimensionality of the reconstructed space (the number of the independent factors) has proved to be low. These are four factors, rather powerful, embracing in general 38% of the general dispersion.These factors (“Existential and psychodynamic preferences", "Professional experience", "Behavior approach", "Psychotechnical isolation") mean nothing but a true realization of authentically acting "implicit" determinants, i.e. cognitive operators, which condition the generalized conceptualisations concerning means and boundaries of counseling and therapy in general sense as they are perceived by post-Soviet professionals. In other words, these factors represent the inner picture of professional activity as it exists in the consciousness of post-Soviet practicing psychologists. However this vivid simplicity of the semantic space is not as much a separate variable, characterising a quality of the sample, as rather a feature, determined by the mere procedure of factorisation.

Further consecutive analysis of the data with the help of clustering and parallel ranking of the preferences which are declared and which act authentically revealed the following regularity: under the condition of three clusters reflecting three basic therapeutic approaches (psychodynamic, existential and cognitive-behavioral), the real repertoire of the tasks, targets and means (techniques) is much more diverse. This fact moves apart habitual dimensions of the professional self-awareness semantic space as an object of investigation. In its turn it means this object is ambiguous and depends on specific individual preferences and visions of post-Soviet psychologists.

Taking into consideration references in the survey [2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 21 etc.] one may come to a conclusion that while there really is some average standard of professional values and preferences among post-Soviet professionals, nowdays there is also a vivid tendency for searching and constructing new forms and means of working with patients/clients, more adaptive and suitable for the therapeutic situation on the post-Soviet cultural area. We might presuppose that these searches are directed towards finding out means of effective therapeutic influence corresponding to the genuine socio-cultural matrix of all-Russian mentality.

Ranked data analysis of the thirteen therapeutic conceptions offered for evaluation to the practicing psychologists of the sample, revealed that the highest ranks are completely filled up by approaches from a humanistic paradigm, while, for instance, psychodrama or S.Grof`s conception along with NLP are placed in the very bottom of the list. Psychodynamic approaches occupy middle positions.

It is quite obvious: both these results testify to the fact that Western modern therapeutic approaches do influence upon professional orientations of post-Soviet psychologists dividing them both in mental and physical areas and forming professional groups of adherents, who identify themselves with this or that approach. The question is open as to the reasons for selecting this or that psychotherapeutic paradigm and a certain type of professional self-identification. Leaving this question for further research we pay attention to the tendency, according to which (F 4, Psychotecnical isolation) the studied sample included professionals who preferred, if one may say so, a universalistic approach of NLP type, selection of which means that a practicing psychologist would not include his or her existential Self and that same Self of a client/patient into the context of therapy relying mainly upon using proper techniques.

Paradoxicality of this phenomenon lies in the fact that in so doing the mentioned professionals get to the same microclaster with behavior-oriented psychologists who take the social model- bearer therapeutic position (Fig.3). In this case paradoxicality is explained all in all with their own not realised professional position in distinction with self-conscious “behaviorists”. In other words, initial cognitive simplisity of the professional group self-awareness turns to be oversimplification of professional self-identification and means that among a certain amount of post-Soviet practicing psychologists there is no adequate self-analysis, which could lead to the proper professional self-awareness.

Thus, we have all reasons to argue that there are not only spatial but also hierarchic in values levels of gradation in professional competence of practicing psychologists, the constituent principle of which is formed by the readiness and level of self-analysis, which presupposes professional self-awareness (both personal and paradigmatic). The latter, no doubt, is a necessary condition of professional growth.


According to the outcomes of the study one may draw a number of conclusions concerning ideas and conceptualisations of post-Soviet practicing psychologists as to the means, aims and theoretical frames of their work as counselors and therapists.
1. A psychosemantic structure of professional preferences includes the following factors: F 1 –“Existential and psychodynamic preferences”; F 2 — “Professional experience”; F 3 — “Behavioral approach”; F4 — “Psychotechnical isolation”. These factors’ contents reflects leading conceptual positions which illustrate specific features of counseling and therapy as they are realised and practised by post-Soviet psychologists.

2. The major factor (F 1 — “Existential and psychodynamic preferences”) both with cluster analysis results concerning evaluations of therapeutical approaches and conceptions (Fig.1, Table 2) supports strong implication that there are tendences towards integrating existential-humanistic and psychodynamic conceptions along with techniques of work peculiar for them in the process of counseling and therapy.

3.Experimental data argue in favour of presence in post-Soviet professionals’ self-awareness of boundaries delimitating cognitive and mere behavioral approaches. Cognitive-oriented conceptions, united into one group, are perceived by post-Soviet professionals as independent and relatively isolated ones (Fig.1).

4. As to the determining of approach preferences by the personality traits of a psychologist it is established that giving preference to a rigidly formalized technique corresponds to not sufficient working out (reprocessing) by a professional of his/her personal problems.

5. Discordance between the factors’ contents describing declared theoretical identifications (technology of work, professional roles, aims and positions) and authentic ways of therapy and counseling among post-Soviet practicing psychologists is explained by lack of the proper paradigmal realization which causes insufficient professional self-identification and self-awareness.



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I would like to express my deep-felt thanks to Post-graduate student Natalia Kucherovskaya for her devoted assistance with this study and to all my colleagues from the FSU without friendly and disinterested participation of whom this research would not be possible.


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