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General concept of practical psychology
Practical psychology is a branch of psychology, the subject of which is psychological assistance, i.e. practical activities of psychologists aimed at a specific person with his problems, requests, needs, etc.
The emergence of the profession of a practical psychologist at the beginning of the twentieth century is connected, first of all, with the emergence of a social order for the implementation of psychological forms of scientifically based impact on a person and a group of people. As a prerequisite for the allocation of independent branches of practical psychology (based on the gradual allocation of one's own subject and means of activity), such branches of practical activity as medicine (in particular, psychiatry), differential and social psychology, which gave rise to the development of psychotherapy and psychological counseling, can be considered. The theoretical basis for this was the psychology of personality, presented in psychological schools such as psychoanalysis, gestalt psychology, humanistic psychology, cognitive psychology, etc.
On the other hand, economic interests, the tasks of the optimal use of labor resources in production, in the field of management and education, as well as certain traditions and experience in psycho-diagnostics, have led to the emergence of independent branches of practical psychology.
One of the first areas of the implementation of psychological practice was psychotechnology - a branch of psychology that studies the problems of people's practical activities in a specific applied aspect. Psychotechnics arose at the beginning of the twentieth century. Its main tasks were recognized:
- the implementation of professional selection and vocational guidance, the study of fatigue and exercise in the labor process;
- adaptation of man to machine and machine to man;
- elucidation of the effectiveness of the impact of various funds on the consumer (advertising);
- training of mental functions in the preparation of labor, etc.
By the beginning of the 50s of the twentieth century, the substantive and organizational design of the main branches of practical psychology as independent scientific and practical directions was basically coming to an end.
In our country, psychotechnology received significant development in the first half of the 30s of the XX century, when the first organizational and structural units of practical psychologists were created (psychotechnical and pedological laboratories at enterprises in industry, transport, and public education institutions).
However, in the future, the development of psychology in our country was largely of an "academic" nature. At the stage of development under consideration, which lasted until the beginning of the 70s, the practical orientation of psychology was expressed in the development of applied problems. As a result, psychology took shape and received the status of independent scientific and practical branches of application of psychology to various social spheres: social psychology, pedagogical psychology, management psychology, family psychology, etc.
To date, in understanding the essence of practical psychology, its theoretical and methodological features, there are two main approaches:
- the first approach interprets practical psychology as psychological support for the functioning of individuals in various fields;
- the second approach considers practical psychology as a separate area of activity of practical psychologists.
Understanding of practical psychology as the psychological support of various social spheres (healthcare, education, sports, etc.) is the most common. Practical psychology (or applied psychology) understood in this way is represented by a set of branches of psychology that have received their name in accordance with the sphere in which they are included: military, medical, pedagogical, engineering, sports, legal psychology, etc.
One of the distinguishing features of applied psychology, compared with scientific research, is that the psychologist does not have to deal with an abstract situation, but with specific activities in which various people are involved. In turn, the activity significantly affects the manifestations of the psyche of all its participants. Obviously, the interaction of the same people in the situation of work and in the situation of communication will differ significantly in their psychological parameters. As a result of this, the determining factor that must be taken into account when analyzing “applied psychology” is joint activity, in which both the psychologist and the object of his research are involved.
The need for psychological support of a person’s professional activity is determined by the following circumstances:
- the need to increase labor efficiency on the basis of ensuring the most complete correspondence of the psychological qualities of people to the activities they perform;
- the possibility, and in some cases high probability, of the development of negative mental states in the process of work and the need for their prevention;
- the need to prevent the formation and development of professional deformations of the person (due to the harmful prolonged exposure to factors of the physical and social environment);
- the need to ensure safe work, the elimination of errors in human activities, leading to serious accidents, injuries and deaths, causing significant material damage.
The development and justification of the theoretical foundations of creating a holistic system of psychological support for professional activities was sometimes preceded by a number of practical experiments in organizing production, accompanied by a subsequent analysis and generalization of the results obtained, their implementation in other areas.
A historical analysis of the problem shows that the first books on the psychological support of the professionalization of the personality were published in France in 1849 (“Guidance on the choice of profession”). By the end of the 19th century, problems associated with the need for the most efficient use of labor resources led to an increase in the number of studies in this area. Various aspects of professionalization are becoming the subject of research not only of psychologists, but also of economists, lawyers, sociologists, etc. F. Parsons is considered the founder of a scientific and psychological approach to the problem of professionalization, who proposed the idea of matching individual characteristics of a person with the requirements of the profession. The development of this situation is observed in the works of S. Buler, E. Sprangler, D. Super and others. Later on, the traditions of scientific research in this area make it possible to develop practical activities (primarily vocational selection and vocational training) aimed at building a typology of professions, clarifying the requirements of each of them to professionally important qualities of a person, assistance in choosing one or another specialty
The creation of practical elements that embody the prototype of the psychological service and the psychological support system as a whole is associated, in particular, with the introduction of scientifically based personnel management methods. One of the first predecessors to apply such methods in production conditions was the American manufacturer Charles T. Sampson, who reorganized the production process in his shoe factory in 1870 in such a way that it subsequently recruited personnel even from unskilled Chinese workers.
Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, Henry L. Gantta, H. Emerson and others made a great contribution to the development of counseling for managers.
The creation of the first school of industrial psychologists is associated with the name of Hugo Munsterberg (1863 - 1916), who formulated the basic principles for selecting people for leadership positions. His areas of interest in practical activities were: the development of tests to study the subjects' abilities for various professions, the problems of fatigue and the prevention of industrial accidents, problems of managing people, etc. One of the first systems of rational organization of labor is widely known, associated with the name of F.U. Taylor (1856 - 1915), who later became a professional management consultant.
The problems associated with the study of the influence of mental states and individual psychological characteristics of a person on the quality and effectiveness of activities in our country, become the subject of careful study at the end of the nineteenth century. During this period, I.M.Sechenov conducts a series of studies of labor activity, as a result of which he substantiates recommendations on the length of the working day (1897); studies the biomechanical features of the working movements of man (1899) and the organization of movements in space and time (1901); develops the principles of alternating loads, organization of breaks in work and "outdoor activities" as a way to increase labor productivity (1895-1901). THEM. Sechenov began to identify the nature of fatigue (1903-1904), formed an idea of the role of the psyche in the process of constructing and regulating movements, which made it possible to create a doctrine of the automation of movements and the formation of skill.
The ideas about adapting a person to a machine, reflecting the implementation of the ergonomic direction of research, were expressed in our country by D.I. Mendeleev (1880) and N.A. Arendt (1888) in connection with the development of aeronautics. In 1915, E.V. Rudnev proved the need to develop a standard cockpit taking into account the anthropometric and psychophysiological characteristics of a person. In 1895, I.I. Richter published a series of articles under the general title “Railway Psychology”, in which, based on a study of the psychological characteristics of perception, questions of ensuring traffic safety were posed, requirements and recommendations for signaling systems, controls, etc. were substantiated.
The problem of classifying professions based on the study of psychosomatic factors was considered in the works of the hygienist F.F. Erisman, who published one of the first classifications of professions.
The most intensive studies of the possibilities of applying these sciences in order to improve working conditions appeared in the early twentieth century. So, for example, activities to assess the individual psychological characteristics of a person began to develop especially actively with the emergence of aviation and the formulation of the task of special selection of the most trained people in flight schools. The very first experience of using aviation for military purposes (the Italo-Turkish war of 1911-1912) revealed the relationship of flight accidents with the individual psychological characteristics of pilots.
In our country in 1919 at the Brain Institute, which was then led by V.M. Bekhterev, laboratories of labor reflexology, psychology of professional groups were organized. In 1920, the Central Institute of Labor, the Laboratory of Industrial Psychotechnics appeared, and in subsequent years - the Central Psychophysiological Laboratory of the Civil Air Fund, the Psychophysiological Laboratory in railway transport and in the automobile plant in Nizhny Novgorod.
Further development of research in the field of psychological support of professional activity was carried out within the framework of the so-called psychotechnology (the term was introduced by the German psychologist V. Stern in 1903). Psychotechnology as a prototype of applied (in relation to the needs of production) psychology covered a wide range of issues, which included the study of professionally important qualities of representatives of certain professions, the development of tests for their identification with candidates for work, the study of problems of ensuring production safety, and the impact on individual safety human features. In the 20-30s of the twentieth century, considerable attention was paid to issues of equipping a workplace taking into account the psychological and physiological characteristics of a person; improvement of psychological selection methods; analysis of the causes of erroneous actions.
Practical psychology as a special psychological practice. With this understanding, psychology is not included in the existing spheres of practical activity, but creates a special sphere of psychological services, forms its own psychological practice. In this case - unlike applied psychology - the position of the psychologist in the situation under study changes fundamentally, as if he receives the object of study at his complete disposal. Now the main thing is not helping others, “basic specialists” (teachers, managers, etc.) in solving their problems, but the ability to build their activities according to their own rules and regulations.
With the advent of independent psychological services, actually psychological practice, the social position of the psychologist is fundamentally changing. Now he himself forms the goals and values of his professional activity, he himself exercises the necessary effects on the person who has applied for help, he is responsible for the results of his work. This dramatically changes both his attitude to the people he serves, and his attitude to himself and other specialists involved in the work, and most importantly, the style and type of his professional vision of reality are changing.
The emergence of psychological practice has led to a qualitative change in the psychological theory itself. In its composition, a psychotechnical theory begins to form, the main distinguishing features of which experts call (F.E. Vasilyuk):
- practicality as an expression of the orientation of the theory not to an object external to the researcher, but to “work-with-object”;
- value orientation to the criteria of truth, kindness, beauty, holiness, benefit, in contrast to the criteria of objectivity, characteristic of academic psychology;
- targeting, focus on the psychologist-practitioner as his “inner character” and the relevance of his inner experience;
- the subjectivity of knowledge, due to the interest of all participants in psychotechnical practice (both psychologist and clients) as a process and the results of their activities;
- the flexibility and variety of methodological tools used, ensuring the creation of optimal conditions for self-knowledge and self-disclosure of both the client and the psychologist;
- the personal nature of the knowledge obtained as a result of the interaction is not about something external to the researcher, but about the knowledge that “I am present in me or in what I am”.
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