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The National Council of Psychotherapists

Est. 1971


Character Assessment


Having been in psychotherapy/hypnotherapy practice for thirty years (a very long time), I have formulated a number of ideas and techniques to help clients.


My aim is to help clients develop resources to either prevent problems or resolve them. As in the saying “Give a man a fish and you give him a meal: teach a man to fish and you feed him for life”, it seems reasonable to help clients develop attitudes, beliefs and feelings that will “feed them for life”.


Many attempted solutions by clients in fact prolong their problems. My aim is to help clients have thoughts, feelings and actions that move them forward rather than holding them back.


With this thought in mind 1 spend much of my time challenging “restrictive beliefs” as this will help them overcome factors that are holding them back. Time with me is spent helping them to


      a)         Know themselves
      b)         Accept themselves
      c)         Like themselves


In my experience there are very few clients that would score highly in these three categories. Another assessment is whether their internal influences - self-talk, feelings, thoughts – are:


a)     Up to date

b)     Accurate

c)      Helpful


Many clients are driven by out of date brainwashing that occurred in childhood, which is still influential in the way they lead their lives.      


Over the years I have developed many aspects of therapy in the belief they would prove effective. Many did not “stay the distance” and my initial enthusiasm waned with time. “Character assessment” has maintained its effectiveness in helping unlock some of the internal mechanisms that are causing restrictions, and I have used it constantly for some years.


The technique is very simple and is really a concise way of learning about different attitudes and beliefs held by the client. Many of these beliefs will be helpful and appropriate, but those that are not become obvious and provide a basis for further discussions.


During the history I ask a series of questions requiring a “yes or no” answer. The answers provide an idea of the clients’ strengths and weaknesses. It is a very simplified list and creates what I call a “character  profile”, similar to those visually produced by the police when they are trying to find someone. The aim is to help the client learn “who he is” so that improvements can be made in areas causing him to be “held back”.


You could devise any list you think useful. The one I use is: ­


1)     Are you a thinker or feeler (run by rational thoughts or emotions)?

2)     Are you a worrier or laid back?

3)     Are you an optimist or pessimist?

4)     Are you hard on yourself (critical, judgmental, negative self-talk)?

5)     Are you tense or relaxed?

6)     Do you worry what people think when you do or say things?

7)     Are you confident?

8)     Are you a perfectionist?

9)     Are you a “fixer” (always wanting to fix things), or “accepter” (let things run their course)?

10) Do you steal other people’s problems (a problem thief) always trying to sort out the problems of others?

11) Are you a loner or gregarious?

12) Do you have such high expectations they are rarely achieved?



These questions only take a few minutes and the answers often lead to discussions about how this character is intertwining with the problem either as a causation or responsible for the failure of resolution.


For example, if someone answers question 2 with “I’m a born worrier. If I don’t have something to worry about I become worried”, then I know we need to tackle this aspect of their personality or resolution is unlikely.


If someone answers question 4. “ I’m always hard on myself’ I know we need to look at their negative self talk and help them change it to be praising and encouraging.


I see these questions as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and the character they describe will become apparent when the pieces are fitted together. Often one or two pieces don’t fit and I believe the task of my therapy is to alter these until they fit and the picture they compose is one that can deal with the presenting problem and also any future ones that may arise.



Dr. Brian Roet MNCP(Hon)



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