Psychosocial Development Theory

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Psychosocial Development Theory
Today, mental illness is recognized as a health problem. This
has not always been the case. Until the eighteenth century,
those with mental health disorders were viewed as “witches”,
and the problem was one of purity. By the late eighteenth
century, having attributed ‘insanity’ to have come from evil, a
transformation of thought regarding mental illness occurred
from one of a supernatural origin to one of some human
ailment. The first public mental asylum opened in the United
States in 1773, and within the next 100 years, 73 mental
hospitals were constructed. Insanity and commitment
development determinations were made by the local judiciary.
Prior to the development of the mental asylum, the mentally ill
were treated as paupers and confined in almshouses and, in the
case of the violently mentally ill, imprisoned and punished as
Introduction Continued
The birth of psychiatry was the dominant
force in defining insanity as a medical
condition. The Association of Medical
Superintendents of American Institutions for
the Insane was formed in 1844 who began
the publication of the American Journal of
Psychiatry which reported remarkable
success rates in psychiatric treatment of the
mentally ill. This allowed the association to
legitimize psychiatry as a medical specialty
and to “justify the exclusion of others without
formal training in this specialty.” Asylums
or psychiatric hospitals became the primary
response to mental illness and continued to
increase in number until 1955 when the
population of the hospitalized reached an all
time high of 558, 922 patients.
Counseling v. Psychotherapy Divide
It was largely in response to the US prejudice against lay
therapists that Carl Rogers adopted the word 'counseling',
Rogers was not originally permitted by the psychiatry
profession to call himself a 'psychotherapist'.
In the field as it now stands, the argument as to whether
counseling differs significantly from psychotherapy is largely
Others use 'psychotherapy' to refer to longer-term work and
'counseling' to refer to shorter term work
The two terms are commonly used interchangeably in the US,
with the obvious exception of 'guidance counseling', which is
often provided in educational settings and focuses on career
and social issues.
Counseling v. Psychotherapy Cont.
Rejecting the notion of ‘hidden’ aspects of the psyche which
cannot be examined empirically, practitioners in the behavioral
tradition began to focus on what could actually be observed in
the outside world.
Finally, under the influence of Adler and Rank, a 'third way'
was pioneered by the US psychologist Carl Rogers. Originally
called 'client-centred' and later 'person-centred', Rogers's
approach focuses on the experience of the person, neither
adopting elaborate and empirically untestable theoretical
constructs of the type common in psychodynamic traditions,
nor neglecting the internal world of the client in the way of
early behaviorists. Other approaches also developed under
what came to be called the 'humanistic' branch of
psychotherapy, including Gestalt therapy and the psychodrama
of J.L. Moreno.
Mary Richmond (1861-1928)
The first professional Social
Work person and brought about
indirect and direct practice and
she was the one who conceived
the idea of
Richmond believed that the
environment had a bigger part
of what was wrong with a
person than anything else.
Lightner Witmer (1867-1956)
Regarded as the inventor of
the term "Clinical
Co-founder of the world's
first Psychological Clinic in
1896 at the University of
Granville Stanley Hall (1844-1924)
Psychologist and educator who pioneered
American psychology.
Interests focused on childhood development
and evolutionary theory.
The first president of the American
Psychological Association and the first
president of Clark University.
In 1887, he founded the American Journal
of Psychology and in 1892 was appointed as
the first president of the American
Psychological Association, a position he
held until his death.
Gestalt Psychology
Gestalt psychology is a theory of mind and brain that
proposes that the operational principle of the brain is holistic,
parallel, and analog, with self-organizing tendencies; or, that
the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Although Max Wertheimer is credited as the founder of the
movement, the concept of Gestalt was first introduced in
contemporary philosophy and psychology by Christian von
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Psychosocial Development
Erik Erikson (1902 – 1994) was a German developmental
psychologist and psychoanalyst known best for his theory
on social development of human beings. Erik Erikson also
coined the phrase identity crisis.
Psychosocial development as expressed by Erik Erikson
describes eight stages of development through which
developing humans should pass from infancy to late
adulthood. In each stage the person confronts, and
expectantly masters, new challenges. Each stage builds on
the successful completion of earlier stages. Stages not
successfully completed may reappear as problems in the
Life Stages
Infancy: (Birth - 18 months) Trust v. Mistrust
Post Infancy: (18 months – 3 years)
Autonomy v. Shame and Doubt
Preschool: (3 – 6 years) Initiative v. Guilt
School: (6-12 years) Industry v. Inferiority
Adolescents: (12 – 20 years) Identity v. Role Confusion
Early Adulthood: (20 – 34 years) Intimacy v. Isolation
Middle Adulthood: (35 – 65 years)
Generativity v. Stagnation
Late Adulthood: (65 + years) Integrity v. Despair
Historic Overview
Modern psychological therapies trace their
history back to the work of Sigmund Freud in
Vienna in the 1880’s.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was
commonly referred to as “The
Father of Psychoanalysis”.
Freud has been influential in two
significant ways. He simultaneously
developed a theory about how the
human mind is organized and
operates internally, and how human
behavior conditions and results
particular theoretical understanding.
Psychodynamics is the study of
human behavior from the point of
view of motivation and drives,
depending largely on the
functional significance of
emotion, and based on the
assumption that an individual's
total personality and reactions at
any given time are the product of
the interaction between their
conscious/unconscious mind,
genetic constitution and their
Structural categories
Level of consciousness:
Includes 3 levels of thought
1. Unconscious
2. Conscious
3. Preconscious
Structures of Mind
Include 3 personality structures
Behaviorism/Learning Theory
Ivan Pavlov conducted research on classical conditioning;
Edward Thorndike, John Watson, and B.F. Skinner conducted
research on operant conditioning were the most influential to
this theory.
Behaviorism is concerned with apparent behavior. A behavior
is a fact and thus a point of departure for attempting to explain
it. The determinants are to be found in the external situation of
the person, not in the person’s inner life. The individual’s
“personality” is the sum of acquired behaviors and learned
behavioral-environment relations.
5 fundamental assumptions to this
line of Theoretical Development
There is continuity of the species. Functional relationships
between animal behavior and the environment also hold true
for human beings.
The conditions of environment are the principle determinants
of both animal and human behavior.
The procedures of natural science are the best way to
understand behavior-environment relationships.
Both normal and abnormal behaviors are the product of
behavior-environment relationships and can be modified by
the manipulation of these relationships.
The individual’s “personality” is the sum of acquired
behaviors and learned behavioral-environment relations
B. F. Skinner (1904-1990)
His focus in operant conditioning is on the
response and its consequences, not the
antecedent stimulus. Behavior is determined
by its consequences and the behavior precedes
the stimulus.
Albert Bandura
1925 - present
Bandura was initially influenced by Robert Sears'
work on familial antecedents of social behavior and
identity learning.
Directed his initial research to the role of social
modeling in human motivation, thought, and action.
In collaboration with Richard Walters, his first
doctoral student, Bandura engaged in studies of social
learning and aggression. Their joint efforts illustrated
the critical role of modeling in human behavior and
led to a program of research into the determinants and
mechanisms of observational learning.
Bandura Cont…
Shaping: As used in operant conditioning, is a
method for establishing new behaviors.
Shaping helps illustrate that conditioning
typically occurs through a gradual process
rather than all at once. A desired behavior can
be achieved though a series of steps, with each
step representing progress toward achievement
of the sought after behavior.
Aaron Beck (1921-present)
The cognitive model especially
emphasized in Aaron Beck's cognitive
therapy says that a person's core beliefs
(often formed in childhood) contribute to
'automatic thoughts' that pop up in every
day life in response to situations.
Cognitive Therapy practitioners hold that
clinical depression is typically associated
with negatively biased thinking and
irrational thoughts.
Cognitive-Behavioral Theory
CBT is commonly based on the idea that how we
think (cognition), how we feel (emotion), and how we
act (behavior) are all entwined and acting together.
This states that our thoughts influence our feelings
and behavior, our feelings influence our behavior and
thoughts, and our behaviors influence our emotions
and thoughts.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a
comprehensive, active-directive, philosophically
and empirically based psychotherapy which
focuses on resolving cognitive, emotional and
behavioral problems.
REBT was created and developed by the
American psychotherapist and psychologist Albert
Ellis (1913-2007). REBT is one of the first forms
of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), first
expounded by Ellis in the mid-1950s.
The fundamental premise of REBT is that people
to a large degree disturb, upset and defeat
themselves through how they construct their view
of reality by the means of their evaluations, beliefs
and philosophies about negative events in addition
to the events themselves.
Cognitive Development Theory
Jean Piaget (1896–1980) Provided many
central concepts in the field of
developmental psychology and concerned
the growth of intelligence. The theory
concerns the emergence and acquisition of
schemes in "developmental stages", times
when children are acquiring new ways of
mentally representing information.
The theory is considered "constructivist",
meaning that it asserts that we construct
our cognitive abilities through selfmotivated action in the world.
For his development of the theory, Piaget
was awarded the Erasmus Prize.
4 Main Periods
Piaget divided schemes that children use to
understand the world through four main
periods, roughly correlated with and becoming
increasingly sophisticated with age:
Sensorimotor period (years 0–2)
Preoperational period (years 2–7)
Concrete operational period (years 7–11)
Formal operational period (years 11–adulthood)
Humanism Theory
Humanistic psychology is a school of psychology that
emerged in the 1950’s in reaction to both behaviorism
and psychoanalysis.
The position of the Humanist is that a person has the
capacity for self-awareness; that he does have control
over his behavior. The Humanist allows that a person
has freedom of choice, self-determination and
is responsible for his self-direction.
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)
Among the earliest
approaches we find
the developmental
theory of Abraham
emphasizing a
hierarchy of needs
and motivations.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Postmodern Theories
Postmodern psychology says that
the experience of reality is a
subjective construction built upon
language, social context, and
history, with no essential truths.
Since "mental illness" and "mental
health" are not recognized as
objective, definable realities, the
postmodern psychologist instead
views the goal of therapy strictly as
something constructed by the client
and therapist.
Examples of Postmodern Theories
Strength Based Therapy
Narrative Therapy
Postmodern Therapy
Forms of postmodern
psychotherapy include
Narrative Therapy,
Strength Based Therapy,
and Coherence Therapy.
Solution Focused
Therapy (SFT) is a type
of talking therapy that is
based upon social
Strength Based Therapy
Focuses on what clients want to achieve through
therapy rather than on the problem(s) that made them
seek help.
Focus is on the present and future.
The therapist/counselor uses respectful curiosity to
invite the client to envision their preferred future and
then therapist and client start attending to any moves
towards it whether these are small increments or large
To support this, questions are asked about the client’s
story, strengths and resources, and about exceptions
to the problem.
Examples of Strength Based
The miracle question
Scaling Questions
Exception seeking Questions
Coping Questions
Narrative Therapy
Narrative therapy holds that our identities are shaped by the
accounts of our lives found in our stories or narratives.
A narrative therapist is interested in helping others fully
describe their rich stories and trajectories, modes of living and
possibilities associated with them.
By focusing on problems' effects on people's lives rather than
on problems as inside or part of people, distance is created.
This externalization or objectification of a problem makes it
easier to investigate and evaluate the problem's influences.
Another sort of externalization is likewise possible when
people reflect upon and connect with their intentions, values,
hopes, and commitments.
Once values and hopes have been located in specific life
events, they help to “re-author” or “re-story” a person's
experience and clearly stand as acts of resistance to problems
Feminism is an ideology focusing on
equality of the sexes. Feminism
comprises a number of social, cultural
and political movements, theories and
moral philosophies concerned with
gender inequalities and discrimination
against women.
Some feminists, such as Simone de
Beauvoir and Judith Butler, have
argued that gendered and sexed
identities, such as "man" and
"woman", are social constructs.
Insurance Coverage
The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction
Equity Act is legislation that would end the practice
of insurance companies discriminating against people
suffering from mental illness. Sponsored by
Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and
Wellstone's friend Representative Jim Ramstad (RMN), the bill would compel insurance companies to
treat mental illness the same as physical illness, given
the overwhelming scientific evidence that mental
illness is a disease every bit as real and serious as
physical illness. This practice is often referred to as
"mental health parity."
Insurance Coverage Continued
The Mental Health Parity Act was signed on September 26,
1996. This Act required that annual or lifetime dollar limits on
mental health benefits equaled those of surgical benefits. This
applies to group health plans for plan years beginning on or
after January 1, 1998. The current extension runs through
December 31, 2007.
This act does not apply to benefits for substance abuse or
chemical dependency.
This act allowed insurance companies to cover the cost of
mental health services and that insurance companies ensure all
plans provide mental health coverage to some minimal degree.
Insurance Coverage Continued
The Mandated Insurance Benefits Law, WI Statute 632.89,
was developed in 1973 as a way of handling reimbursement
and overseeing professionals who were not licensed. This law
was progressive in its time as it advocated mental health parity
by requiring insurance companies to provide a minimum
amount of first dollar coverage for mental health - both
inpatient and outpatient; however, this law is outdated.
Clinical social workers obtained licensure in 2002. They are
regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and
Licensing and have the right to practice psychotherapy
How Psychological aspects are used
in Social Work
Psychological Theories are used in the practice
of Social Work.
These are integrated in the assessment,
planning, intervention, and evaluation stages
of the Generalist Intervention Model (GIM).
General Systems Theory
Proposed in 1936 by biologist Ludwig von
Bertanlanffy and further developed by Ross Ashby.
He emphasized that real systems are open to, and
interact w/ their environments, and that they can
acquire qualitatively new properties thru emergence,
resulting in continual evolution.
Rather than reducing an entity to the properties of its
parts, systems theory focuses on the arrangement of
and relations between the parts which connect them
into a whole. This particular organization determines
a system, which is independent of the concrete
substance of the elements.
General Systems Theory Continued
General systems theory is based on the assumption
that there are universal principles of organization,
which hold for all systems, be they physical,
chemical, biological, mental or social.
Systems concepts include: system-environment
boundary, input, output, process, state (homeostasis
or dynamic; entropy), hierarchy, goal-directedness,
and information.
The systemic world view, contrary to the mechanistic
view, seeks universality by ignoring the concrete
material out of which systems are made, so that their
abstract organization comes into focus
Generalist Intervention Model
Follow Up
Analytic vs. Systemic Approaches
The analytic approach seeks to reduce a
system to its basic elements in order to study
in detail.
Analytic Approach (Psychology)
Systemic Approach (Social work)
Isolates, then focuses on the elements
Unifies and concentrates on the
interaction between the elements
Studies the nature of interaction
Studies the effects of interactions
Emphasizes the precision of details
Emphasizes global perception
Modifies one variable at a time
Modifies groups of variables at once
Remains independent of duration of time;
phenomena considered are reversible
Integrates duration of time and
Validates facts by means of experimental
proof within the body of a theory
Validates facts through comparison of
the behavior of the model with reality
Leads to discipline-oriented education
Leads to multidisciplinary education
Leads to action programmed in detail
Leads to actions defined through
Possesses knowledge of details, poorly
defined goals
Possesses knowledge of goals, fuzzy
Chess, Wayne A. Dale, Orren. Norlin, Julia M. Smith, Rebeca. Human
Behavior and the Social Environment: Social Systems Theory. 5th ed
Pearson Education. 2006.
F. Heylighen (2000): "Analytic vs. Systemic Approaches", in: F. Heylighen,
C. Joslyn and V. Turchin (editors): Principia Cybernetica Web (Principia
Cybernetica, Brussels). Retrieved October 29, 2007, from:
Liska, A.E. (1992). Social Threat and Social Control. Albany: State
University of New York.
Woods, M.E., & Hollis, F. (2000). Casework: A Psychosocial Therapy (5th
ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
York University IS Research. (2007). Theories used in IS research.
Retrieved October 29, 2007, from:
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