Instructions How to Write

Theory Analysis Instruction

1) Pick a theory or approach to psychology you find interesting and perhaps relating to a possible career trajectory. This is your choice so find out about someone or some ideology you’re curious about.

2) Find and read one of the primary writings or the person or ideology you are exploring. Read it/them and look for clues to where there ideas came from. Remember to explore beyond “typical” histories and contexts in search of how certain contributions have been ignored or silenced by “louder” histories. Finding direct citations of primary influences in a primary source is the ‘gold standard.’ The easy way is to look at secondary sources who will lay out the story and hopefully provide cites to the primary sources.

3) In the end, from whatever combination of primary and secondary sources, identify three (3) ancestors, two parents (Source 1.1 and 1.2) for these lines of thought. For one of those parents find a source for their ideas or technique that goes one generation earlier, this is your ‘grandparent’ (or Source 2.1).

4) Now research the other direction, forward in time. Who has your person of focus influenced? Who were her or his students, followers, critics? This will lead you to three (3) more persons, two who are in the immediately following generation from your person of focus (Successor 1.1 and 1.2). Again, pick one of them and find yet a subsequent generation or iteration of their take on the person of focus’s main contribution. This is your ‘grandchild’ (or Successor 2.1).

5) Now that you have all the elements of your story, write a coherent narrative linking them all together so that the earliest contributor influences at least one next gen contributor who influence the person of focus along with one other contributor. The person of focus starts something important and passes it on to two others, one of whom passes it on to a new generation. The whole essay should tell a story across time of some clinically relevant issue, technique, theory or approach.

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