Temperament Therapy is a biblical counseling method based upon the theory of temperament, which states that we are created with a specific set of intellectual and emotional needs, the “Temperament”. Recognizing that man is a spiritual being, created by God, Temperament Therapy focuses on understanding the inner man and applying that knowledge to properly balance body, soul and spirit.
Temperament is not to be confused with personality. We are born with a specific temperament and it remains constant throughout our lifetime. Our personality is the combination of; temperament, cognitive ability, value system, life experiences and the influence of the Holy Spirit.
At birth our personality and temperament are identical, but as we grow our personality is shaped and molded by life experiences, choices, interaction with others and our willingness to surrender to the Lordship of Christ. The difference between an individual’s personality (apparent temperament) and actual temperament is a good indicator of the amount of stress or anxiety in the person’s life.
Temperament Therapy is concerned with identifying an individual’s inborn temperament and the way in which he or she goes about meeting those needs as well as the ill effects of not meeting them.
Every person has temperament needs in varying degrees. These needs are met by either drawing from the soul (mind, will & emotions) or from the spirit. Both inner conflict and interpersonal conflict are related to the temperament and caused by;
Trying to meet needs in ungodly ways.
Temperament needs being out of balance.
Adverse reactions to unmet temperament needs.
The anxiety that results from these conflicts combined with the stress of living in a fallen world, produce a multitude of physical, emotional, and mental problems.
For years, secular psychologists have tried unsuccessfully to understand temperament. These efforts failed because secular psychology denies “intelligent design” and the fundamental truths of creation.
Through many years of research and observation the National Christian Counselors Association has identified three distinct components of temperament; Inclusion, Control, Affection = Mind, Will, Emotions (components of the soul)
Inclusion: social orientation & intellectual energy.
Control: willingness to make decisions and to accept responsibility for self & others.
Affection: the need to express and receive love, affection and approval.
Each area of the temperament has a unique set of needs, these needs exist in two categories:
Expressed Needs: – what we appear to want.
Responsive Needs: what we really want.
While it may seem that these two types of needs would be the same, more often than not they are different. For example, an individual may appear to be a content sitting by themselves, while they are actually feeling lonely and rejected. Another example would be an individual that appears to be the “life of the party” when in reality they are over compensating for a fear of rejection. In both of these cases the individual’s true needs are unseen and will likely go unmet. When true needs go unmet long enough, the individual will seek an alternative means of fulfillment or escape.
The world offers a host of alternatives; i.e., drugs, alcohol, sex, fame, fortune, thrill seeking, and so on. These replacements will feign fulfillment for a time but inevitably lead to stress, anxiety, depression, anger and broken lives.
The expressed and responsive needs are determined by completion of an A.P.S. (Arno Profile System) questionnaire and the results provide the specific temperament type for each area of temperament. There are 5 primary temperament types; Melancholy, Choleric, Sanguine, Supine and Phlegmatic. While it is possible for an individual to have the same temperament type in each area, this is seldom true. Research has shown that the vast majority of people possess a blended temperament and there are more than 4000 different temperament combinations.
By providing the means to understand temperament needs and teaching the individual how to meet them, we simultaneously identify the source of the internal stress and the means to relieve it. When the internal pressure has been relieved the individual is much less likely to suffer from stress, stress related illness or emotional breakdown. The individual becomes more capable of dealing with the day to day pressures of life and when they are at peace with themselves they are much more likely to be at peace with God; which allows a greater expression of: love, joy, peace, patience; kindness; goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
While Temperament Therapy may not be the answer for every person in every situation, understanding our inborn temperament strengths and weaknesses can certainly provide significant insight into why we do the things we do and feel the way we feel.