On Becoming An Optimal Human Being

Becoming An Optimal Human Being

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself”. Abraham Maslow

Clients come to therapy with varying issues, perceived goals, perceptions, expectations, and degrees of motivation. Capricious degrees of internal and external resources also arrive with each client. Regardless of how a client initially shows up, becoming an optimal human being is not initially discussed but is implicit within therapy. Human beings are continually pursuing goals, even when the goals are not focal in their awareness (Duckworth, 2015, Emmons, 1989).

Feedback-Informed Treatment supports autonomy and self-direction within therapy. The clinician can immediately meet the client exactly where they are. The Outcome Rating Scale and Session Rating Scale offers quick and easy to administer measurables to support this process. The first step toward becoming an optimal human being means identifying where you are. Starting your sessions using the Outcome Rating Scale immediately evokes a humanistic approach because it brings it right back to the client and their needs.

1.) Start Here, Right Here.

Once we step into our client’s thicket, how do we consciously support the unwinding of their seemingly voracious vines? With Bandura’s (1997) research on self efficacy in mind, how do we purposefully support clients as they find their way?

According to Dr. Scott Miller, founder of the International Centre for Clinical Excellence, clients report that using measures is both positive and beneficial, enabling them to: (a) play an active in the care they receive; (b) maintain a focus on what matters most to them; and (c) collaborate more effectively with their treatment provider.

“Every person is, in part, ‘his own project’ and makes himself”. Abraham Maslow

Founder of humanistic psychology, C. Rogers (1989) suggests that the directional tendency in our clients can be trusted. As clinicians we can understand their behaviour as a result of striving in the only way currently perceived as available. As in Roger’s (1989) potato sprout story, clients’ innately move toward growth and toward becoming.

2.) Engage In Regular Self-Reflection

Using a FIT method of care cultivates self-reflective habits within both therapist and client. It is in this self-reflection where our perceptions change and we begin to tap into what we deeply value. Our brains change as we self-reflect and neuroscience has proven this (Vinai et al., 2015). Self-reflection studies indicate that our perceptions of self and other change do change over time (Well et al., 2016). Becoming an optimal human being involves choosing goals that lead to more optimum functioning overall. What does optimal functioning looks like? It becomes noticeably more clear through routine self-refection and self-awareness.

3.) Act Upon Your Self-Concordant Goals

Self-concordance goals reflect the degree to which they are consistent with one’s developing interests and values (Sheldon, 2014). Pursuing goals for self-concordant reasons, meaning one enjoys and wholly identifies with the goals, predicts greater personal satisfaction and joy. As opposed to pursuing goals for non-concordant reasons, meaning environmental pressures or internal obligations, predicts lower levels of well-being. Kaufman (2013) suggests that for optimal functioning, behaviour must be both effective and consistent with intrinsic basic needs and growth tendencies.

As therapists we can tap into the power of Maslow’s statement by utilizing a feedback-informed treatment model in our practice. As mentioned earlier, FIT naturally increases a client’s capacity to self-reflect. It is this routine self-reflection that allows one to tap into these self-concordant goals (Sheldon, 2014).

Tracking client outcomes is important. Dr. Scott D Miller suggests that looking at the dropout rate within collected data is useful, as it gives the therapist time to reflect on what to do so as to keep the client engaged in the therapy for longer, thereby helping the client to maintain the change/progress afterwards.

Becoming an optimal human being is a process and not an event.

In summary, starting where the client is at, focusing on goals that matter to them through trusting their intrinsic needs and growth tendencies has proven to result in better outcomes. Regularly monitoring client-based outcomes and inviting feedback significantly increases the effectiveness of services (Lambert et al. 2002).

Becoming a FIT system of care does not happen overnight, and Dr. Scott Miller’s FIT approach provides the platform, training, support and follow-up required to implement this in your practice as we all step toward becoming optimal human beings.

“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life” –Abraham Maslow

Written by Shauna Paynter

Copyright © January 4, 2019 Shauna Paynter


Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy. The Exercise Of Control. New York: W.H. Freeman and company. Emory University, Division of Educational

Duckworth, A., Eichstaedt, J., Ungar, L., (2015). The mechanics of human achievement. Social Personality Psychology Compass. 9: 359–369.

Emmons, R.A., (1989). The Personal Strivings Approach To Personality. L.A. Pervin (Ed), Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Kaufman, S.B. (2013)). The Complexity Of Greatness: Beyond Talent or Practice. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Lambert, M., Whipple, J., Vermeersch, D., Smart D., Hawkins, E., Nielsen, S., Goates, M.,(2002) Enhancing psychotherapy outcomes via providing feedback on client progress: A replication. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. 9: 91-103. doi:10.1002/cpp.324

Rogers, C. (1989). The Carl Roger’s reader. H. Kirschenbaum, V. L. Henderson (Eds.). NewYork, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Sheldon, K. M. (2014). Becoming Oneself: The Central Role of Self-Concordant Goal Selection. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 18(4): 349–365. https://doi.org/10.1177/1088868314538549.

Vinai, et al. (2015). The Clinical Implications and Neurophysiological Background of UsingSelf-Mirroring Technique to Enhance the Identification of Emotional Experiences. Journal of Rational-Emotive Cognitive-Behavior Therapy 33: 115–133.

Well, T., et al. (2016). The Benefits of Mirror Meditation. Paper presented at the American Psychological Association Convention in Denver, CO.

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