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Daniel Keeran, MSW

Victoria, Canada

Knowing Your
True Self

Personal and Group Identity Short-Form Questionnaire
prepared by Daniel Keeran, MSW
words can change things

The identity of an individual or group can be clarified and supported by exploring factors related to
the existence of the entity. Included in the short-form questionnaire are items pertaining to historical
and current factors as well as future goals. Memories are major contributors to identity as well as
values and beliefs as a foundation of vision formation.

1. Historical: Who Were You? (For individual identity, see also the Counseling Assessment
Questionnaire and the Curriculum Vitae example.)
Origin: date and place, names and identifying characteristics of the members; purpose, practices,
values and beliefs of the group.
Who are the ancestors, before the origin, and what have they contributed to identity?
What trauma, conflict, and loss have occurred since the origin?
How have the values and beliefs changed since the origin?
Who and what have been most influential?
What historical photographs, writings, interviews with senior members, and other materials are
2. Current: Who Are You?
What are the current demographics: ages, ethnicities, genders, family characteristics, occupations?
What are the current values and beliefs?
Who and what are most influential?
3. Vision: Who Do You Want To Be?
Based on your historical and current values, beliefs, and demographics, what are your goals for the
future? for the coming year? for the next five years? for the next ten years? for the next fifty years?
What is your vision or hope for future generations?
Who and what do you hope will be most influential?


Cultivating Love As Your Identity
If God is love, and if humans are made in the image of God, what are the implications? It
means love is the essence of our true self, so that when we show caring for others, our
conduct is aligned with our true self and we feel fulfilled. Conversely, when we ignore
others in trouble or when we do violence to others (as in war) our true self becomes
misaligned and violated and we become disordered.
Love is the essence of who you are because you are created in the image of God who is
Love. You feel most fulfilled when you show interest in and take action to care about
what happens to the troubled and lost. If everyone is broken, we must bring caring and
compassion to all of our relationships and human interactions. Believing you are love,
just as God is love, is better than not believing you are love.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love
one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one
another. - John 13:34-35
"Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." - Romans
walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant
offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2
"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone
who does not love remains in death." - 1 John 3:14
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has
been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because
God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into
the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he
loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." - 1 John 4:7-10



Psychological Factors in Christian Expression and Identity
By Daniel Keeran, MSW, President, College of Mental Health Counselling

This is a discussion paper of how early life experience, emotional crisis, general personality type, and
developmental stages can interact with the Christian message resulting in variations of emphasis, identity, or of
focus in faith, worship and practice.
Nuturing or Punitive Parenting?
The nurturing parent can be predicted to influence a childs adult life to be nurturing and whose view of God is
caring, loving, and forgiving. Conversely, a person whose childhood experience of parenting is characterized as
angry, harsh, rejecting, absent, or emotionally unavailable, may view God in a similar way. One who reacts against
punitive parenting, either rejects the idea of God altogether or reacts against the idea of a God who requires
obedience, in favor of a lenient, gracious God.
Negative labels, such as legalist or pharisaical, are sometimes assigned to those who verbalize the importance of
obedience or of propositional faith. Church communities that have experienced a period of emphasis on
propositional faith, may react in the direction of an experiential spirit-led emphasis.
Intellectual-Cognitive or Artistic-Emotional?
Individuals who describe themselves as generally intellectual and cognitive (IC), emphasize the search for
understanding, facts, values and beliefs, structures, forms, reasons and solutions as the focus of attention in
Christian faith. Individuals who describe themselves as generally artistic or emotional (AE), emphasize the
concepts of intimacy with God, experiencing Gods presence, freedom in worship, and spiritual guidance. While
the former are drawn to teaching, learning, and study, the latter are drawn to experiential worship whether
meditative or dramatically expressive.
The Use of Language To Identify Types
The following terms may characterize or appear in the vocabularies of these personalities. The individual can
review the lists below and choose which terms feel or seem most comfortable or correct, with the goal to
integrate the terms from both lists.
Intellectual-Cognitive Personality (IC)

Artistic-Emotional Personality (AE)


Propositional or Experiential-Relational?
The IC personality may view Christianity as propositional and seek to establish values and beliefs as
foundational to faith. The AE personality views faith as experiential and relational, emphasizing
worship, music, prayer, having a relationship with God, and a family model of community. Whereas
movements within the faith community may swing between propositional and experiential,
understanding and incorporating both aspects of psychological composition can lead to an
integration or balance that is inclusive and validating of different personality types. Either-or thinking
can be replaced by inclusive thinking.
The Influence of Personal Crisis and Identity
The development of personal identity is influenced by the family and church group during childhood,
either to adopt the model presented or to react against it if there was an experience of parental
anger, withdrawal, or rejection associated with the early identity.
Another factor influencing spiritual identity is emotional crisis in which the person feels hopeless or
desperate. During the crisis, a new personal identity may emerge when another person or group,
representing a different identity, offers support and hope for the individual. This phenomenon is
misused by cult groups who use intimidation and deprivation to bring a person to the point of
personal crisis in order to instill a new identity.
In numerous biblical texts, Jesus and other writers often present the bad news of hell, condemnation,
and judgment in close proximity to the good news of eternal life. The intent may be to generate a
sense of personal crisis, to move the reader or hearer to a point of despair in order to choose a new
identity with hope as a faithful follower of Christ.
The Role of Early Adult Development
When youth leave the parental home and childhood identity to establish independence, a change in
identity arises from the influence of new relationships, such as university professors and other social
groups and connections having different constellations of values and beliefs. The shift away from the
family identity commonly begins during adolescence. The dichotomy between traditional and
contemporary worship reflects the need to establish a different identity and experience of church. A
flexible integrated model takes identity differentiation needs into account.
In Conclusion
Consideration of the above concepts and factors can assist in the assessment of the person or of the
Christian community and may be employed for the intentional formation of a healthy integrated and
balanced model to include both propositional teaching and experiential worship.
Daniel Keeran, MSW, a practising therapist for over 30 years, is President of the College of Mental
Health Counselling and the author of titles in counselling and Christian thought.