Knowledge of birth order research and the therapeutic process

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Gorman, Sandra
Issue Date
BA Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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This study explored the relationship between the research on birth order position and personality traits, and how this may impact on the therapeutic process. The researcher attempted to determine whether the knowledge that people have today of birth order research, matches the traditional or stereotypical view of birth order. The researcher also attempted to determine whether this knowledge of birth order research could influence the trainee therapist in the therapeutic process. This research is important because the existing research regarding birth order is in conflict as demonstrated in the literature review. Findings were obtained through the distribution of a questionnaire to trainee therapists in Year 2 and Year 4 of their study requiring quantitative and qualitative responses. Personality traits relating to four birth order positions were studied. These four positions were Oldest Child, Middle Child, Youngest Child and Only Child. Participants also reported their own birth order position and provided additional information of their knowledge and opinion of birth order research in relation to personality traits and the therapeutic process. The researcher expected to find that trainee counsellors and psychotherapists still hold the traditional view of birth order and its relationship to personality traits. Contrary to these expectations, however, findings showed that participants did not appear to hold this view and no clear trends were identified. It appears the findings were as contradictory as the research currently available on birth order. The researcher also expected to find that birth order position research is of moderate benefit and low hindrance in developing the therapeutic relationship. The overall finding here was as expected.