A Critical Review
The National Christian Counselors Association (NCCA), located in Sarasota, Florida, is afflicted with many of the same unbiblical practices as the biblical counseling movement (BCM), of which they are a part. The NCCA web site gives testimony to the exaggerations of what they can do and what they have accomplished. After reading through their web site, we conclude that Christians should not enroll in the NCCA training programs or utilize their testing.
The backbone of the NCCA training program is the Arno Profile System (APS). The NCCA refers to the APS as “a biblically based model with proven success.” Through the use of the APS, they say that “the NCCA has credentialed over 6000 counselors since 1981 worldwide.” The NCCA claims: “The Arno Profile System (A.P.S.) is an easy-to-learn counseling technique that has achieved a success rate of over 90%.”
In response to the question, “Is the training biblically sound?” they answer, “Yes. The NCCA is totally devoted to the Lord and our training is all biblically-based” (bold added). However, there is a great deal wrong with the NCCA! Nevertheless we will restrict ourselves to the APS, which is the backbone of the NCCA training system. If the APS is fallacious, then the NCCA system fails and its hyperbolic claims are invalid.
What is the APS? We are told:
The questionnaire used by the N.C.C.A. is the FIRO-B (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation Behavior) which was developed by Will Schutz and copyrighted by Consulting Psychologist Press [CPP, Inc.]. The N.C.C.A. uses the responses to the 54 questions in order to develop a report which is titled the “Arno Profile System Report.”
The N.C.C.A. uses the FIRO-B and the FIRO-BC questionnaire to gather data from the counselee.1
We are further told: “The A.P.S. identifies an individual’s inborn temperament in three separate and distinct areas of human behavior,” including “Inclusion,” “Control,” and “Affection.” Thus the APS is predicated upon the FIRO-B, which has the distinct areas of Inclusion, Control, and Affection.
The NCCA claims the following:
If one generalization is to be made, it would be that the A.P.S. is a valid and reliable test in the exact measurement of an individual’s temperament when administered properly and according to the N.C.C.A.’s instructions.
One important characteristic of any test is its validity. According to a text of psychological testing, “Undoubtedly the most important question to be asked about any psychological test concerns its validity, that is, the degree to which the test actually measures what it purports to measure.”2 Validity is known as the soul of a test. If FIRO-B’s validity is questionable, then APS rests upon questionable grounds and has been overhyped and oversold to NCCA members.
All testing experts know the Buros Institute of Mental Measurements (BIMM). BIMM has a long and distinguished history of evaluating tests and it is the first place knowledgeable people go to check out a test. The FIRO-B was evaluated in the BIMM’s Fifteenth Mental Measurements Yearbook.3 There we found that the FIRO-B was developed in 1958 by William Schutz, a leading figure at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. All the evil things about the encounter movement and the extremities of the Esalen Institute during the sixties were due to individuals such as Schutz, Fritz Perls, and others. Schutz, by biblical standards, was an evil counter-culture influence of the sixties, which affected the entire nation.4 Schutz, with his FIRO-B is hardly a man and a test that the Lord would have His people use or follow. Neither is Schutz’s FIRO-B test God-inspired. More likely it came from the same evil cauldron as his outrageous, ungodly behavior and influence in the sixties and beyond.
But setting aside the ungodliness of the man who developed the test, we need to look at whether the FIRO-B will stand the test of validity by the BIMM. The information provided by NCCA is that the “A.P.S. is generated by a computer and the information (report) is derived from the responses to 54 questions” from the FIRO-B.5 The first evaluation in the BIMM concludes: “more solid and theoretically based support for the validity of the Schutz theory and instrument [FIRO-B] is needed” (bold added). The second reviewer says of the FIRO-B that “validity studies are generally quite weak” (bold added) and then summarizes his analysis by saying:
The FIRO-B is intended to assist individuals and organizations in understanding interpersonal needs and their impact on interpersonal functioning. On balance, the instrument appears to fall short of the mark due to flaws in conceptualization and implementation.6
Clearly the FIRO-B test has not satisfactorily met this most important testing standard of validity. Therefore it is safe to conclude that the APS, which is umbilically connected to the FIRO-B is not to be trusted.
The NCCA says, “The Arno Profile System is based on the Theory of Temperament.”7 They say that it reveals a person’s “unique inborn temperament” and that a “person’s temperament is who they really are underneath” the external influences that form the personality. However, in checking with CPP, Inc., the publisher of the test, we learned that the FIRO-B is not designed to measure anything inborn, does not claim to measure anything inborn, and has nothing to do with the four temperaments.8 Although the APS is based upon the information derived from the FIRO-B, the “unique inborn” claim and the use of the temperaments are not part of the FIRO-B.
Thus the “unique inborn” claim and the temperament usage are added to the FIRO-B and are the brain-children of the Arnos. We do not wish to digress here but we reveal the “Occult Origins of the Four Temperaments” in the chapter with that title in our book Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing.
In her book The Cult of Personality: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves, award-winning writer Annie Murphy Paul:
… exposes the flawed theories and faulty methods that render their results unreliable and invalid. Personality tests, she contends, produce descriptions of people that are nothing like human beings as they actually are: complicated, contradictory, changeable across time and place.9
We have covered some of the same ground in our books and articles. If we were writing a book titled The Cult of Personality, our subtitle would be How Personality Tests Are Leading Christians to Miseducate their Children, Mismanage Christian Organizations, and Misunderstand Themselves. The FIRO-B and the APS deserve such a remark.
In addition, the various NCCA accuracy and success reports should be ignored altogether since no outside third party was involved as far as we could find. There is a third party available and it is the Buros Institute for Mental Measurements. We contacted the BIMM and were told that the APS must be submitted by the publisher and must be available either to the general public or to the NCCA members. Therefore, the APS could be evaluated by the BIMM and there would be no charge to the publisher of the APS for BIMM to evaluate the test. This is a challenge to those who publish the test to have this done. BIMM can check the validity and other claims for the APS and report on that in a future Mental Measurements Yearbook. However, our past experience leads us to predict that this will not be done, even though it is the ethical, responsible, and even biblical thing to do. Until this is done, we recommend that the NCCA claims be ignored and that no one use the APS!
The APS and the NCCA are a prime example of the gross and, yes, unbiblical use of this test and of erroneous evaluations and claims, totally without a third party such as BIMM evaluating it. There are 6000 trained APS counselors who are “miseducating,” “mismanaging,” and “misunderstanding” themselves and others. This needs to be stopped until the APS is submitted to the BIMM for evaluation! Failing a third party evaluation and confirmation, it is not only useless but detrimentally misleading.
2 Anne Anastasi. Psychological Testing, Sixth Edition. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988, p. 28.
3 Fifteenth Mental Measurements Yearbook. Lincoln: NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements Online, www.unl.edu/buros.
4 Katrinka Matson. The Psychology Today Omnibook of Personal Development. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1977, pp. 402-406.
6 Fifteenth Mental Measurements Yearbook, op. cit.
8 Phone call to CPP, Inc., 7/20/09.
9 Annie Murphy Paul. The Cult of Personality. New York: Free Press, 2004, jacket cover.
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, September-October 2009, Vol. 17, No. 5)