Integration Course

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Levels of Analysis:  An Explanation of the Difference between
“Integration” and “Multitasking”

By Dr. Brian Campbell



The word “integration” is sometimes confused with the term “multitasking.”  In an effort to clarify the distinction between the two terms, I feel that it is helpful to introduce the concept of “levels of analysis.”  Below, please find a conceptual framework where I have divided the influences that determine human behavior into seven “levels.”  You will see that these levels are ordered according to a rough “hierarchy,” starting with the most fundamental level—biological--and progressing to the highest level of analysis, which I have labeled as the spiritual/religious level.



Levels of Analysis


(1)   Biological:   Biochemical processes; brain anatomy; brain physiology; brain structures and functions; genetics; neurochemical processes; brain damage; brain pathology; teratogens; biological drives; sensory capabilities; central nervous system function; drug interactions; current medications

(2)   Physical:  Physical deficits; sensory limitations; physical impairments; pain; physical limitations; physical characteristics (size, attractiveness, deformities); developmental delays

(3)   Psychological/cognitive:  Mental processes; cognitive functioning; memory; emotions; learning; information processing; problem-solving; psychological disorders; feelings

(4)   Interpersonal:  Communication; family; family systems; marital

(5)   Socioeconomic:  Money; financial support; poverty; affluence;  employment history

(6)   Sociocultural:  Race; cultural influences; cross-cultural influences; church; government; politics; gangs; country of origin; language

(7)   Spiritual/religious:  Holy Spirit; supernatural; devil; angels; soul; sin; forgiveness; salvation; miracles; religious upbringing; religious training;  faith





With respect to the above model, the term integration can be best understood as the combination (blending) of Levels (3) and (7).  In contrast, the term multitasking can best be thought of as the combination (complex interaction) of all seven levels.  That is, when therapists multitask, they obtain data from each and all of these levels of analysis in order to assess and treat individuals.


One of the best examples of multitasking is reflected in the pages of the “client intake form” that is utilized by psychologists and counselors at the onset of therapy.  The form helps the therapist obtain information as it pertains to all seven levels of analysis.  Each source of data can prove to be critically important in the assessment and treatment process.


For example, if the background data you obtain from the client indicates that he has suffered traumatic brain injury as the result of a car accident, your focus of attention would normally shift to Levels (1) Biological, and (2) Physical.  You would want to obtain information on how significant his impairment was in terms of brain damage and/or physical limitations or restrictions.  You would also want to consider whether the individual is experiencing significant physical pain because of the car accident.


If the client is experiencing chronic pain, this would certainly influence your interpretation of any depression he may be experiencing, as assessed at Level (3).  Furthermore, the client’s level of pain may be so extreme, it may not be fruitful to attempt any type of intervention at all (that involves Levels 3-7), until the pain issue is addressed.  For example, the first thing you may need to do, before any further progress can be made, is to refer the client to a pain specialist for appropriate pain medication.


As you obtain greater wisdom and knowledge as a therapist, you will find that it becomes easier and easier to move back and forth between the different “Levels of Analysis.”  You will start to see how the levels “overlap” and “interact.”  This process can seem daunting and overwhelming to the beginning therapist.  It is my sincere prayer that the framework that I have provided will help keep you from “getting lost” or confused, as you progress along the road to becoming a Christian counselor. 


Exercise:  Obtain a copy of a Client History form.  Go through the form and attempt to identify which “level of analysis” each question in the form addresses.