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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Emotional Disturbances Disrupt Thinking & Focusing

When it comes to this topic, I think I have some materials from which I can make a decent claim that indeed the emotional concerns when unaddressed can affect our thinkinng processes. From this narration I would like to map out some strategy for this year if ever I encounter similar situations if only to be of help to those who may be undergoing such internal commotion.

Here in the seminary I administer the entrance tests to those who would like to study here and become priests of the Catholic Church later on as they go through their formation program. I use the Culture Fair Test Scale 3, Forms A & B as well as the OLSAT 7th Ed. I also ask the applicants to write their thoughts in response to three open-ended questions pertinent to their application.

One thing I have noticed is this: whenever a person seems to be in an emotionally disturbing situation, chances are his thinking will be affected as in being unable to function as efficiently as expected. I have several cases to show this point. The most recent one I had just learned about.

Client A, this latest one, is one of two applicants from another congregation. His CFT3 A & B scores were all below the Average. His Form A score was so low as to be categorized as MR or Mentally Retarded (pardon the tag, but that's how it is identified without necessarily meaning the person may be retarded). Given Form B, his score rose up to as high as Low Average (after MR comes B for Borderline or Slow Learner, then LA, Low Average or Slow Learner). His Total score thus settled in the B category.

Their formator wanted me to give him an oral report on the results, so I read to him the results after which he informed me that the guy has actually been to the United States to study theology and seemed to have performed well, only that he had to come back for some philosophy units. Moreover, he will continue with his theology studies here in the Philippines. While in the US, it became clear to his formator that exams do give him the jitters. While he seemed to have performed well in theology, when it comes to exams, he simply bloops. Exams then become his waterloo. I suggested that he go for his own counseling session to get to understand why he performs that way when he takes exams, or else he may be really bound for the gutter. The guy can't simply say that's the way he is because there will be exams along the many more years of academic formation he will still have to undergo, and failure in them is something I would like to believe won't be tolerated. His ability to express his thoughts seems to be satisfactory enough even as his non-verbals seem to be rather poor.

Client #2 is from last year. He was a promising student who manifested really slackened abilities in his first year. But after I gave him some tips about how he can handle the newness of the environment and the demands of his studies, he was noted to have performed well. However, last year, after his summer vacation, as standard here in the seminary, I gave him CFT again. He had taken the test upon entrance, and since two years have lapsed, I gave him the same test. This time, his results were low. In time, he was asked to leave. I myself had observed he has become a different person. While he was in his first two years in college, he was actually warm and would often reach out or talk to me spontaneously. However, after he took the test, he would niticeably avoid meeting me along the corridor. The smile I used to see in his face became so scarce I felt he must have been having some dificulty. I failed however to call him for a talk, and the next thing I heard, he was asked to leave. Honestly, I feel sad about this, hence, what I plan out towards the last part of this write-up is basically in response to this client.

Client #3 was an MA student when I tested him. I could never believe my eyes when I saw his test results. How can someone reach so high and yet be so low in this test. His other tests were rather average, something I really expected him, knowing him to be an industrious person when it comes to his studies. When application time came, he simply backed out and cited personal reasons. HOw I had wanted to talk with him about whatever he may have been going through then, but it was too late.

Another one was applying for the Associate Program when I tested him. His scores were cfategorized as High Average. However, before the school year ended, he came back for testing because he was going for theology. Sadly, his scores were in the Low Average. When I was about to test him with Form B, I just asked how he was, feeling rather familiar about him from last testing. He just poured out his concerns. He was going to have his final exams in a few days, and his assignments were not yet finished. He was worried about how he could ever finish those requirements. Hence, I told him we could talk about it some other time. It was suffcient that he became aware of his emotional condition. Now he can make a choice to act appropriately. I asked him to consciously put aside his concerns and their emotional impact on his thinking. And sure enough, he seemed to have performed within his previous (entrance)scores.

I can cite to you certain other cases. In fact, this observation may yield a question on the reliability of CFT3. First, the test enjoys a faily high correlation coefficient. It is good that these were very few instances that lend veracity to the reliability coefficient question of the test. In a way then, the test seems to hint emotional disturbance marring an efficient thinking process.

If this were only a tip of the iceberg, maybe I can watch out for those will be taking the test tomorrow if the same observation obtains. Maybe I can set up an individual session to help anyone who needs to thresh things out for his own understanding. In this way, Client # 3 could move on with his life after becoming so engrossed with pressures.

Maybe I can also look into some other factors that may affect his cognitive function including but not limited to his family of origin, his educational background, the source of disturbance. If counseling him would be to his benefit, why not? Let's see. I shall write about this as my experience widens.

So two things seem to come out now quite clearly: as emotional disturbance may impact on our thinking, the CFT3 Forms A & B may be an instrument to help validate this condition in the person.

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