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Years ago, in my early 30s, I first visited a counselor. I went to her to learn how to better manage the stresses of being a military wife living overseas with two toddlers and a husband who was often deployed. As part of my treatment plan, she ordered a Meyers Briggs Type Indicator, a personality assessment.

The personality assessment measured traits such as where I fell statistically on the Introversion/Extroversion scale. I was not surprised by my score, which was the highest possible measure of an extrovert. I was always told I was a people person, and I often seemed to feel like I needed to make a good impression and gain approval from people.

Additionally, the counselor addressed stress management by encouraging me to set boundaries for myself and learn to say no. But I had been living under the assumption that it must be true; I'm a people person, an extrovert, and someone who needs a connection with people. At the same time, I was still feeling drained, overwhelmed, and spread thin with all my social activities.

I was involved in the kids' preschool and the military spouse club, I was active in a sailing club, and I worked part-time as a personal trainer, all while living halfway around the world from family and any help. It got to a point where I started having stomach aches that would keep me up at night. I felt like I couldn't calm down and would get physical anxiety symptoms. I was constantly in flight or fight like I was revved up and couldn't slow down. I eventually ended up with a diagnosis of hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue.

Fast forward to when the Lord called me into Pastoral Counseling in my late 40’s. I received my APS assessment (P-PS-Gc) as I began classes with Above & Beyond Counseling Academy. It began a season of self-discovery and significant transformation in my life.

Without the Arno Profile, I never could have known what I needed to have understood almost twenty years before. There it was in black and white. An explanation of "me" through my God-ordained temperament. To understand I was Phlegmatic in Inclusion was so freeing. I learned that there’s a reason I was feeling so drained that it showed up in physiology. How profound is this system that helps us connect the dots even to the point that our health is negatively affected when we don't live following our temperament needs?

I always tell my clients, "You have permission to be who you are as God created you." It was how I felt when I learned I was Phlegmatic in Inclusion but had been living like a Sanguine compulsive. I didn't realize that although I can love and desire connection, it was driven by my Affection Area needs because I was Sanguine compulsive. But in my Inclusion temperament, I needed rest, I needed to pace myself, and I did NOT need to strive for social connection and constantly try to be in the social "mix." I had permission to "pull back" and say no to excessive activity in my schedule. As a result, I gained a profound sense of balance of energy, my time, and even my productivity.

What I learned has helped me deal with clients who have also had personality testing in the past and who may have an inaccurate or incomplete understanding of their makeup. Here are three specific points you may find helpful:

  1. Stress to clients that they may not have lived or behaved in alignment with their temperament which explains why they don't see themselves considering the assessment results at first. Encourage them to take time with the Personal APS report over subsequent weeks, and they will begin to have more clarity and confidence in the report's findings. Then, clients can implement strategies that you, as the counselor, develop to move them toward congruence with their temperament.

  2. Since the formation of our temperament is deeply impacted by early childhood experiences and development, help clients draw connections between those experiences and how they may have derailed clients from living out of their temperament. This will help them see the line between how they were living and feeling and how God created them to live with a purpose. We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

  3. Instill clients with the hope and understanding that God was intentional when He created each of us with a specific temperament. If we "roll" with our temperament's strengths, we will have greater joy, peace, and fulfillment.

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