Essay on Human Development Theories

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In this essay I will begin by explaining psychological theories. Furthermore, I will evaluate how a care worker could use psychological theories to understand the behavior of an individual. Lastly, I will evaluate these psychological theories by looking at the strengths and weaknesses of each of them in regard to working with an individual.

Erik Erikson and the Lifespan Theory is a psychological theory. Erik Erikson (1902-1979) was of the writers who developed the psycho-dynamic approach. He believed that there were eight stages of development also known as the eight stages of man. At each stage he suggested we come across new situations and how we respond to them determine our psychological balance and health. If each stage is dealt with successfully this will lead to positive strengths forming that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. However, if these stages are dealt with unsuccessfully, they could interfere with our psychological development. Furthermore, Erikson suggested that a person who feels capable in life will drive their behavior, attitude and actions. Each stage of the Erikson theory is critical in becoming accomplished in a particular part of life.

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The first stage of development is Infancy (0-18 months). The basic conflict at this stage being trust v mistrust. At this stage children develop a sense of trust when caregivers provide reliability, care and affection. A lack of this will lead to mistrust.

The next stage is early childhood (2-3 years), the basic conflict being autonomy vs shame and doubt. At this point children need to develop a sense of personal control over physical skills and a sense of independence. Success leads to feelings of autonomy, failure results in feelings of shame and doubt.

Followed on from childhood the next stage is preschool (3-5 years). The conflict at this point would be initiative v guilt. Preschoolers learn to initiate tasks and carry out plans, or they will feel bad about their attempts to be independent.

The school age stage (6-11 years) is where competence v inferiority would be the conflict. Children will learn the joy of taking part in tasks here, or they will feel inferior.

The next stage is adolescence (12 to 18 years) where the conflict is identity v role confusion. At this point teens need to develop their own sense of self and personal identity. Success at this point leads them to staying true to themselves, whereas failure here would lead to role confusion and a low sense of self-worth.

Following adolescence is the young adulthood stage (20-24). The conflict here is Intimacy v Isolation. Young adults need to form intimate, loving relationships with other people at this stage. Positive experiences here lead to strong relationships whereas negative experiences can lead to a person feeling lonely and isolated.

Adulthood (25-64) is the next stage where generativity v stagnation is the conflict. The person who has experienced good circumstances to develop a positive identity, be productive and develop satisfying relationships will try and pass these experiences onto the next generation. Those who are unable to invest something of their own selves in others can become socially destitute and stagnation often develops.

The last stage is maturity (65-death) where Ego-integrity v despair is the conflict. People who can look back on a positive and fulfilled life will not fear death, they will find order and meaning in life and accept what has happened in the past. The stage should bring a feeling of completion. Those who look back with frustration will not be happy as they know it’s too late to start again and achieve what their wishes.

Another theory that will be looked at is that of Carl Rodgers, a humanist psychologist. Rodgers believed that for people to grow they need to be in a place that offers them genuineness, acceptance, and empathy.

Carl Rogers describes people who enjoy life as fully functioning people. He would see them as being psychologically healthy. In order to reach psychological health, he believed people need to have a positive self-concept which is achieved by not having too many conditions of worth put on them, and benefiting from the core conditions from people they interconnect with. Fully functioning people also live in the moment and are fully congruent. To achieve psychological health, they also had to have an openness to experience, the ability to live in harmony with others and unconditional regard for themselves which leads to confidence and allows a person to become the best person they can be.

Rogers believed that all people wish to grow and achieve their own potential in life. This is called self-actualization, and he believes that this is the main motivator of people’s behavior. Rogers believed that self-concept begins in childhood and our parents would play the most important role in this. Parents who offer unconditional love and regard most often produce children with a healthy self-concept. However, children who feel they have to gain their parents love and affection can end up feeling unworthy and develop low self-esteem.

Rogers also advised that people can also live in a state of congruence. This is when we have our own thoughts of our ideal self. However, often the image we have does not much up to how other people view us. If someone’s self-image does not line up with their ideal self then we are in incongruence. He believed if people receive unconditional positive regard and pursue self-actualization, people can work towards being a state of congruence.

Rogers also believed that for psychotherapy to be successful a therapist had to have unconditional positive regard for their patient to allow them to show both good and bad feelings without being judged.

Transition is a part of life that everyone will experience at some point. Some of these changes will be expected and unexpected, and they all will experience different conflicts at different stages of our lives. The Adam, Hayes and Hobson model consists of seven stages. It aims to describe how our self-esteem will be affected as we go through a change and what impact this will have on the way we behave. The seven stages of transition are immobilization, minimization, depression, acceptance of reality and letting go, testing, searching for meaning and internalization. Within these stages Adam, Hayes and Hobson look at patterns of behavior of an individual to observe how they have been affected. All people are different and cope in different ways. Sometimes individuals can remain at a certain stage for longer than expected and at other times they can go backwards.

William Worden was another psychological theorist that looked not at what happens when you experience a loss but what a person has to do to cope with the loss. Worden discusses tasks rather than stages.

The first task is to accept the reality of the loss. When we first lose someone is can be hard to accept. Some people won’t believe it’s real and get stuck in grieving. It’s quite normal after a death to believe that the person has not gone away forever, however, for most people this does not last long and allows them to move onto task two. Sometimes in task one people will retain the possessions of a loved one who has passed or keeps their bedrooms the exact way that they left it when they died.

Task two is to work through grief. This is when feelings should be expressed. These can include sadness, anger and depression. Society can play a point at this part too. Some societies allow very overt displays of grief while others would see this as unhealthy or could be seen as someone feeling sorry for themselves. Suppressing pain can prolong the process of grieving. The task of grieving can be made worse by the denial of feelings, the misuse of alcohol or by creating or by creating a perfect memory of dead person. People that are grieving can also deny that they are feeling pain, sometimes by keeping busy so that they don’t have time to think. Some people may need support to complete this task.

Task three is to adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing. This involves recognizing and perhaps taking on roles which the deceased person once performed or where the bereaved persons live was intertwined with the deceased find a new sense of self. Task three may be harder to complete if the bereaved does not adapt to loss. They may focus of helplessness and take a step back from the world. The task can be resolved by the development of new skills needed to cope with their new way of life.

Task four is to emotionally relocate the deceased and move on with life. This task includes using energy which in the past had been used for mourning the dead person and using the energy to live more effectively. However, some people will find this difficult as they feel as though they are disowning the deceased. They can also be scared of revisiting their emotions in another relationship in case it also ends in loss. Other members of the family may also disapprove of them starting a new relationship.

Psychological theories are very important for anyone working in a caring profession to understand why people behave in certain ways. The past experiences and trauma, a person goes through, can go on to have a massive impact on their daily lives. It’s extremely important that care professionals can acknowledge this as to why individuals find themselves in situations that they do. This will help them realize why some individuals do so much that can be detrimental to their own well-being. Understanding these theories clearly can help care professionals show empathy to individual and offer them the support that they need. If they are able to recognize the stage or feature, that an individual is going through, they will be able to create the correct support plan and course of help that the individual needs to overcome the problem. All this support can help individuals to go on and lead happy and independent lives. Theories can also give care workers a framework to use while trying to help individuals manage their behaviors and emotions.

Erikson theory is mostly a positive theory. One of the strengths of this theory is that it suggests individuals not matter where they are on the lifespan, all have the ability to move on and create better lives for ourselves. This is particularly good for people in a care setting as they can realize no matter what challenges they have had in life so far, they are still able to overcome them, which will lead to a better life. To make this possible, the individual would need the correct support around them to accept where they are in the life span and what they want to achieve.

One of the weaknesses of this theory, however, would be that when applied in a care setting individuals need to be able to analyze themselves and understand what stage they are at in life before they can move on. Social factors and culture can play a big part on what stage we are at in our life so it may be difficult for someone in care to know exactly what stage they are at and it may also be difficult for care workers to determine where the individuals are either. Individuals in society are very different and may not always slot into one of these stages easily.

The Adams, Hayes and Hopson is a useful theory to be used in a care setting. It can help health care workers when an individual is experiencing loss or transition. Every individual will react differently in these situations. Some people will be affected emotionally, while others’ behavior may change. This theory allows care workers to work out what stage an individual is at and support them while they move on to the next stage.

To conclude, all of the theories discussed in this essay are relevant today and can be used in a nursing or care environment. Having a good understanding of these theories is so important to health care professionals as this provides them with the tools to help individuals move on from major life events or transitions. They can support people to move on positively with their lives without any destructive behavior occurring after these major life events. Furthermore, these theories, importantly, help health care professionals support individuals to build happy, healthy lifestyles and have a strong sense of self-worth.

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Essay on Human Development Theories. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 12, 2024, from
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