How can the DISC personality model be used to improve group relations? Can the DISC model be used in faith-based communities? How does Christian scripture exemplify the DISC model?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Tres Adames about using the Christian DISC model in therapy.
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Meet Tres Adames
Tres Adames is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and the founder, owner, and director of Arizona Christian Counseling, a pastoral counseling practice in Phoenix, Arizona. He holds a Master of Divinity from Wesley Biblical Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts from Asbury University.
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In This Podcast
- The personality DISC model
- The four DISC types
- Using the DISC model in faith-based communities
- Tres’ advice to Christian counselors
The personality DISC model
The DISC model has been attributed to Hippocrates, one of the first Greek physicians, and his theory that there are four distinct fluids in the body, and health issues occur when they are out of sync.
This idea is not medically sound, but it became the roots of the DISC personality theory.
[There are] four different humors, four personality types. This idea has been in antiquity for a long time. It was modernized in the 20th century and became the DISC model we know today. (Tres Adames)
Tres recommends using the DISC model for group therapy and practice instead of individual use and speculation.
The point is not so much to learn about yourself, although that is part of it, but learning about everybody else and how these different personalities will connect with one another, and sometimes clash with each other, but is great for groups to get to know one another cohesively. (Tres Adames)
The four DISC types
D – Dominant: dominant and task-oriented people. These people are often in leadership positions. They can be harsh and manipulative.
I – Influencing: extroverted and people-oriented people. These folks love talking to others, are the life of the party. They can be prone to procrastination and avoidant behavior.
S – Steady: even-tempered and introverted. These people are loving and enjoy small groups, but they can struggle with codependency and lack of boundaries.
C – Compliant: introverted and task-oriented. These people enjoy details and numbers and statistics. They can struggle with self-esteem issues and moodiness.
Using the DISC model in faith-based communities
Everyone has all four aspects, but they tend to exemplify and act out a specific one. Tres pairs each aspect with different Biblical figures.
Each temperament can exist in both positive and negative ways. Paul in the Bible would be a D, and other times Peter could be an I.
The spirit-filled self will magnify the positive aspects and hopefully help us also work on those areas where we need growth still. (Tres Adames)
Tres’ advice to Christian counselors
Get to know your client from their perspective. Have your client educate you and do not assume that you both share the same ideas about similar aspects of both life and faith.
Useful links mentioned in this episode:
- Use promo code ‘JOE’ to get three free months to try out TherapyNotes, no strings attached!
- Listen to Tres’ podcasts, Ask a Christian Counselor and Spiritual Care Today
- Visit Tres’ website and find out more about the Christian DISC Personality Test
- Check out the Group Practice Launch
- Join the Faith in Practice Conference from April 21st to 24th
- Take The Free Mastermind: How to Make Bank on 2nd March
- Take Faith in Practice further with the Mastermind Course
- Join the Faith in Practice Facebook Group and subscribe to the email list
- Email Whitney: email@example.com
Check out these additional resources:
- How to Faithfully Start a Private Practice with Kelli Willard | FP 124
- Next Level Practice
- Practice of the Practice Podcast Network
- Group Practice Boss
Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.
Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
Thanks For Listening!
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[WHITNEY OWENS] Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.
Hello and welcome back to the Faith in Practice podcast. Thanks for hanging out with me today. Looking forward to my interview with a good friend of mine, Tres Adames. Will tell you more about him in a few minutes, but before we get into that, I wanted to tell you about a free webinar I’m doing in a few weeks. It’s going to be on March 2nd at 1:00 o’clock Eastern time. It’s how to make bank by starting a group practice. There are so many questions that people have about the idea of starting a group practice but most specifically, what I hear is how much money is it going to take to start? Is it going to be worth the money that I put into it?
So in this webinar, myself and Alison Pidgeon, who also helps people start group practices, we’re going to go through all the ways that you can make increased income, spend less time by starting a group practice. If you’re interested in coming to that webinar head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/bank. There you can register and it’s going to be on March 2nd at 1:00 o’clock, totally free. Looking forward to hanging out with you there.
We are going to go ahead and get into this episode here. I have my good friend, Tres Adames here. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, he was in my first 10 episodes I believe. I can’t remember exactly. I think it might have been number eight now that I’m thinking about it. Tres is a pastoral counselor located in Arizona. He owns a group practice called Arizona Christian Counseling, and he’s also going to be attending the Faith in Practice conference in April. So I’m really excited to have that. In fact, Tres, that’ll be the first time we hang out in person.
[TRES ADAMES] It will.
[WHITNEY] Looking forward. You start to think that you have hung out with people in person and then you realize, wait, I actually haven’t. So anyway, welcome to the show today.
[TRES] Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
[WHITNEY] Yes, well, we have a couple things we’re going to cover today. We’re going to talk about a DISC assessment that you created specifically for Christians to use in their practice and then also talking about spiritual integration. I have a lot of people on the podcast that would probably call themselves Christian and then, I mean, sorry, counselor, and then bring the Christian spin in and you have a different way of doing it being a pastoral counselor. So I’d love to start there and talk a little bit about your practice and talk about what integration looks like for you.
[TRES] Sure. So I’m a little bit different because I am a pastoral counselor. I went to seminary to be a pastor and then pivoted into pastoral counseling actually after seminary. Studied it obviously a little bit in seminary, but just found that I really enjoyed working with people one on one versus preaching from a pulpit, which I still do on occasion as a guest preacher. But I just really like going deep with people and being real with where they’re at in a way that they feel like they unfortunately can’t do in a local church or even discuss things they feel like they can’t discuss with their pastor.
There’s a lot of people that are more comfortable going to a pastoral counselor than I guess, a clinical counselor just because they do want a little bit more of a pastoral approach. Not that therapists can’t do that. They can, which is what I plan on talking about at the conference. The topic of mine is spiritual integration in faith-based counseling. The reason I chose that is, I specifically didn’t choose Christian counseling in the title because though I know a lot of the people there will be Christian counselors, we’re finding that we’re in the middle of a shift right now in the culture where people may not necessarily identify as Christian. They may be exploring their faith. So how can we provide care that is ethical and even spiritually enriching for somebody who’s in process?
We want to make sure that we’re not getting triggered, that, that counter transference isn’t getting in the way of allowing people to explore things spiritually. Just because the person that you’re working with doesn’t have the same beliefs as you, that’s not, you exploring those questions with them doesn’t have to put your faith into question either. So this is just based on like a lot of conversations I’ve seen on Facebook where people are like, I don’t think I can work with this person because we don’t agree on, not just like Christianity as a whole, but even like smaller theological issues. Or somebody’s getting a divorce and I don’t feel like I can work with them.
Well, I mean, how do we stay ethical at the same time? Why is it triggering you? Maybe that’s something that you need to explore for yourself, maybe in supervision or with your own therapist or spiritual director. That’s a little bit of a preview of what we’re going to cover, but it’s important I think for therapists, if they’re providing spiritually integrated counseling to be equipped in these areas, theologically and even pastorally, even though they may not view themselves as a pastor. People are still going to be coming to you with questions that they bring their pastor as well.
[WHITNEY] Yes, definitely. You’ve brought up so many good points. I even spoke to a friend yesterday who’s missionary overseas and she was talking about her therapy and her therapeutic experiences. She was like, yes, but I just want a pastor to talk to. She’s like, I love the clinical. I’m learning a lot from it, but there’s this other aspect that I just need a pastor. I was like, yes, totally.
[TRES] I think that’s why the field of spiritual direction has grown so much where it’s essentially a pastor and it primarily just stays in the spiritual. It’s not crisis oriented like maybe pastoral counseling is. It’s more forward focused, where is God in your life, where are you seeing God move? Where do you see yourself going? Where is God leading you, those type of questions. Sometimes we cover that in pastoral counseling but yes, definitely the spiritual aspects come out in therapy and there’s a lot of therapists that don’t feel equipped to go there with people.
[WHITNEY] Well, and I love that you bring up this idea, like so many people think they have to understand or experience the very thing that their client goes through. That’s just not legitimate. How could you possibly understand and agree and know everything that your client goes through? They’re the expert you come alongside them. You help them. And to tell you the truth I’ve had my clients make me question my own faith, not in a negative way, in a good way, like, hey maybe I really should rethink this passage or this idea or this concept. I think God has a way of bringing those people in our office, not only to benefit them, but it helps me go through my stuff too.
[TRES] Yes. I think it’s important to also know that, if you’re giving people spiritual advice, that’s probably not good. We’re not telling people to do that. In fact, I train pastors in pastoral counseling and pastoral care and the thing that we go over is like, do not give people advice because all it does is give them someone to win when things —
[WHITNEY] Oh goodness, yes.
[TRES] So even that direct, I guess, evangelistic approach that doesn’t work more like a flash evangelism, not necessarily growing in community with people, but that directive approach, it can cause problems. So that’s not what we’re advocating for, but walking with people where they’re at; client centered spiritual care that doesn’t try to outpace them, that doesn’t direct them down your own path because it agrees with yours. If their path somehow triggers you again, that’s an indicator that we need to do some work on ourselves.
[WHITNEY] Most definitely. It’s God’s kindness that actually shows us that. And even thinking about the life of Jesus, to go back to that all the time, how did He act with people? Oh yes. Was He shoving things down their throats? Not very often.
[TRES] The only ones He ever really got really harsh with were the religious leaders, that’d legalistic and controlling other people. That’s the only time He ever got really hard on people, but it was always a place of compassion and unconditional love.
[WHITNEY] Definitely. Well, is there anything else you wanted to touch on about spiritual integration before we talk about the DISC? I’m looking forward to talking about it.
[TRES] Not that I can think of. Unless you have any questions.
[WHITNEY] I just always enjoyed talking to you and your take on counseling and the pastor world care piece. I love that. So tell me, I want to hear the whole story about the DISC. How did you come with this concept of creating spiritual spin on it? Tell us all about it.
[TRES] So I’ve been studying personality theory for a while, not necessarily the Enneagram, which is really popular right now. So this is not the Enneagram. Just say that. I don’t have anything against the Enneagram. I just haven’t studied it for myself. I primarily have focused on the Myers Briggs and the DISC model, which are actually, one is actually built on top of the other. The Myers Briggs is built on top of the DISC model. The DISC model has been around for millennia. Very likely it’s often been attributed Hypocratis, who was one of the very earliest forms of what a physician would’ve looked like, but his outdated model had this idea that there were like four different fluids within the body and any of them were out of out of sync with one another, then that’s what caused health problems.
Now, obviously we know that’s not true, but out of that came a personality theory, this idea that there’s four different, not just humor, but for personality types. This idea has just been in antiquity for a long time. It was modernized in the 20th century and became the DISC model that we know today. So it integrated a little bit more, more clinical understandings of personality with this ancient model. But the thing that I like about it’s not so much a personality theory for individuals though it obviously could be. There’s only four, but it’s really, really good for groups. This is why a lot of corporations use the DISC, because you can teach it in an hour. Everyone can identify their primary temperament or type. The point is not so much to learn about yourself though. That’s part of it. But learning about everybody else and how these different personalities will connect with another and sometimes clash with each other. It’s really good for groups to get to know one another in a pretty cohesive way.
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[WHITNEY OWENS] All right. Then how did you take it and mold it?
[TRES] I just reversed engineered it. I’ve read a lot about the DISC. I’ve read a lot about the Myers Briggs, but just for those who aren’t familiar, the DISC, it’s an acronym for the four types. They all start with each of the letters, D-I-S-C. You have your dominant temperament. This person is usually extroverted, but very task oriented. These people are often, you often see these people in leaderships as CEOs, presidents, politicians. So they’re very good at organizing people. They’re very focused on goals. Unfortunately they can sometimes fall into manipulating people and sometimes being too harsh and hurting people’s feelings.
Then you have the I, which stands for influencing. This is also very extroverted or more extroverted. These people are very people oriented. These are usually your sales people. These people are often the connectors, the greet that your local church at the front door, just love talking to people, very bubbly, the life of the party. The growth areas that usually they have to work on are the fact that they can be prone to procrastinating, getting off a task. They might show up late quite often, and they can struggle more often with like destructive things like addiction or just not staying on task. That’s the I.
The S stands for steady. This is your even-tempered person. They’re more introverted, but they’re more people oriented as well. So they really do like working with people, but these people are very loving. They love small groups of people, getting to know people on a deep level, but they can also struggle with things like codependency. They can struggle with people pleasing and sometimes letting their emotions get taken over by other people. So they can absorb other people’s, I guess, essentially emotional energy.
Then the final one is C, which is compliant. These people are introverted and task-oriented. They’re very detail-oriented. These people are often your accountants, your statisticians, the people who know all the policies in the workplace or in the local church. But they can often struggle with moodiness and self-esteem and can be very hard on themselves and even hard on other people. This is actually my type. A lot of people don’t realize that but the whole point is to work on yourselves in these areas so that you can build on your strengths and then recognize your weaker spots and improve those. So it’s similar to the Enneagram in that sense.
Those are the four types. So everybody, what you do is you have a group, take the test individually, and then everyone shows up with their results, and then you talk about it and how they relate to one another. How does a D you relate to an S? How does an I relate to a C, so on and so forth? There’s some places where they’ll print out what their type is and put it at their workspace so that other people can see, oh, okay, I’m talking to a C right now, so I’m going to, I know they’re going to be here. They’re going to be very, very concerned with me, making sure that I get all the details right in what I’m about to hand off to them.
That’s how it’s often used. So we built the Christian DISC for faith communities and churches, and then also Christian businesses. Because I wanted to integrate more of the more scripture into it because I saw a lot of spiritual parallel and scripture. And one thing people ask is like, well, what was Jesus, because wouldn’t He be the ultimate personality? Well, I think we see Him in body, all four, in various points of His ministry. The fact of the matter is we do all have all four within us. We just tend to gravitate toward one or the other. So just recognizing what is my base that I usually am working from and learning where everybody else is at as well can be very powerful for groups. So it’s really good for groups. It also works with couples, with families, and so it can be used in counseling. So I wanted a version of the DISC that could be used in ministry.
[WHITNEY] Can you give me some examples of passages or theological concepts that you’ve been able to integrate into your work with the DISC?
[TRES] Yes, so we try to pair each of them with biblical figures. The Bible has, obviously a lot of stories in it, and I think a lot of stories for a reason. We can see each of the four temperaments being exhibited in positive ways, as well as negative ways. For example, Paul, the apostle Paul would be a high D, like a very dominant personality, obviously, very sharp getting people together, good teacher, but there’s times where even after he’s been called to Christ that his temper gets the best of him, like he insults the high priest and calls him a whitewashed wall. This is later on in Acts.
We see he’s very quick tempered. Also we see Peter as being very likely an I, an influencing person. He tends to speak over Jesus and interrupt Him. Even during the transfiguration, he shouts out and says, “Hey, I want to make a temple for each of you.” It’s like, whoa, buddy, you’re missing out what’s going on. He’s interrupting the moment. But then on Pentecost, we see him turn into this powerful preacher. So we take the view of the spirit filled self will magnify these positive aspects and hopefully help us also work on those areas where we need growth still.
[WHITNEY] I love that you brought up Paul. I think about him a lot too. I empathize with him because my character’s very similar. Being a smartass sometimes and thinking the right thing and like, hold on.
[TRES] I relate a lot with Moses who is compliant because remember he’s cowardly at the beginning with the burning bush. He’s like, get my brother, actually God asked him to go to Pharaoh and he has to kind have battle with God till finally He convinces him, “Okay, I’ll send Aaron as well.” But we know Moses becomes a powerful leader later on, but he struggles with a lot of that self-doubt at the beginning.
[WHITNEY] So have you done the DISC with your own team?
[TRES] Yes, we have.
[WHITNEY] Do, you all put up your letters besides your doors?
[TRES] We haven’t done that. I’ve thought about doing it, but yes, I’ve got, I just mentioned that, because I know of some businesses that have done that.
[WHITNEY] That’s cool. Talk a little bit more about if somebody wanted to get access to the DISC, the Christian DISC and how they would use it.
[TRES] So we just, our website, christianpersonalitytest.com and it’ll come up. You can take the test there. We also have a certification course if people want to learn how to teach it and use it in their ministry or their practice.
[WHITNEY] Awesome. Wonderful. Go and check that out. Then Tres, you have a couple of other cool ways for people to connect with you. You have your podcast, actually two podcasts. You’re staying busy. You want to talk about this?
[TRES] So I have asked a Christian counselor, I’ve had that podcast for 10 years. That was just our practice podcast that I started for our clients just talking about different topics, but it’s like a Dear Aby format. People send questions and I try to answer them. Then I also have Spiritual Care Today, which is actually the official podcast of the. Then I have a free directory people want to join for Christian counselors. It’s just called Christian Counselors in Private Practice. You just go to christiancounselornearme.com. You can sign up for free. We have a Facebook free group as well that you can join. Just go to Facebook and look up Christian Counselors in Private Practice and you join us there.
[WHITNEY] Awesome. Lots of ways to get connected. I mean, I can definitely attest to the fact that I’m in the Facebook group and find it helpful, a lot of really good comments, more about like the spiritual integration in our practices, the clinical piece, looking for recommendations, things like that. So it’s a great group to be a part of. Your podcast, I love that your podcast is very authentic. You don’t mess around. You’re very to the point. You don’t worry about what anyone’s going to say. You say what you think is right and good. I really appreciate that in a podcast.
[TRES] Oh, thank you very much.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Wonderful. Well, Tres is going to be hanging out with us at the Faith in Practice conference. Those tickets have already gone on sale. You can go to practiceofthepractice.com/faithinpractice conference to see if there are any still available. But we’re going to be doing that, talking about the DISC. Then make sure that you go and check out his website so that you can get more information. Tres, I’m going to ask you what I ask everyone when I get to the end of the show, what do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?
[TRES] Hmm, gosh, I should’ve thought about this one beforehand. I forgot about this
[WHITNEY] You can take a second.
[TRES] Oh, what does every Christian counselor need to know? Gosh, I don’t know. Let’s see. What do people usually answer?
[WHITNEY] Well, what’s funny is it changes. I even answer it differently for myself. One week I’m saying, well, we need to know this and the next week I’m like, wait, wait, we really just need to know this.
[TRES] I think, like harkening back to the beginning of the conversation, so this is not a business question. This is more of like a working with clients question. I think you just need to get to know your client and their perspective. Even if you are both Christians, you both call yourselves Christians, even if you go to the same exact denominational church, or even the same local church, because everyone has different perspectives, different experiences, it’s important for us to get to know where people are coming from. So that’s almost like a cultural approach as well, like understanding, having the client educate you and not assuming that you’re talking about the same thing.
So even when we talk about something like the baptism of the holy spirit, that means something completely different in different denominations and not just in denominations, but person to person. Does that mean speaking in tongues? Does that mean that that was the moment you got saved? Does that mean that that was a second experience after you got saved? So people will throw out terms like that. So it’s important for us to clarify with them, okay, what do you mean? Not because we’re evaluating it. We’re just trying to understand the spiritual personality of this person that we’re working with and how to best be there for them.
[WHITNEY] Yes, that’s so true. Even for ourselves, sometimes our thoughts, opinions about all that changes. So you might have somebody, you might ask somebody that question and then three months later get a different answer. So we’re constantly changing and evolving and getting to know the Lord and ourselves.
[TRES] Yes, exactly.
[WHITNEY] Well, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show and looking forward to hanging out with you in a few months.
[TRES] Awesome. All right. We’ll see you then.
[WHITNEY] We want to thank our sponsor today, Therapy Notes. To get three months free, head on over to the Therapy Notes website and put in promo code [JOE], J-O-E. Make 2022 the best year with Therapy Notes.
Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also there, you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and in group consulting, or just shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
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