Chapter 1: Human Growth and Development

Helpfulness: 0
Set Details Share
created 12 days ago by wouhib
show moreless
Page to share:
Embed this setcancel
code changes based on your size selection

Erikson's stages of development

card image

- Social development implies a change in social institutions.

- Failure to successfully complete a stage can result in a reduced ability to complete further stages and, therefore, a more unhealthy personality and sense of self.

- These stages, however, can be resolved successfully at a later time.


Emotional development

  • This area emphasizes many skills that increase self-awareness and self-regulation.
  • Social skills and emotional development are reflected in the ability to pay attention, make transitions from one activity to another, and cooperate with others.

Cognitive development

  • Focuses on development in terms of information processing, conceptual resources, perceptual skill, language learning, and other aspects of brain development.
  • It is the emergence of the ability to think and understand.

Six levels of cognition

1. Knowledge: rote memorization, recognition, or recall of facts

2. Comprehension: understanding what the facts mean

3. Application: correct use of the facts, rules, or ideas

4. Analysis: breaking down information into component parts

5. Synthesis: combination of facts, ideas, or information to make a new


6. Evaluation: judging or forming an opinion about the information or



Three domains of development

1. Cognitive: mental skills (knowledge)

2. Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (attitude or self)

3. Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (skills)


Piaget's theory of cognitive development

card image

Kholberg's stages of moral development

card image

Learning theories

1. Behaviorist (Pavlov, Skinner)—learning is viewed through change in behavior and the stimuli in the external environment are the locus of learning. Social workers aim to change the external environment in order to bring about desired change.

2. Cognitive (Piaget)—learning is viewed through internal mental processes (including insight, information processing, memory, and perception) and the locus of learning is internal cognitive structures. Social workers aim to develop opportunities to foster capacity and skills to improve learning.

3. Humanistic (Maslow)—learning is viewed as a person’s activities aimed at reaching his or her full potential, and the locus of learning is in meeting cognitive and other needs. Social workers aim to develop the whole person.

4. Social/Situational (Bandura)—learning is obtained between people and their environment and their interactions and observations in social contexts. Social workers establish opportunities for conversation and participation to occur.


Behavioral development

  • Behavioral theories suggest that personality is a result of interaction between the individual and the environment. Behavioral theorists study observable and measurable behaviors, rejecting theories that take internal thoughts and feelings into account. The goal is to modify behavior.
  • Two classes of behavior:
    • Respondent: involuntary behavior (anxiety, sexual response) that is automatically elicited by certain behavior. A stimulus elicits a response.
    • Operant: voluntary behavior (walking, talking) that is controlled by its consequences in the environment.

Respondent or classical conditioning

  • Pavolv, Learning occurs as a result of pairing previously neutral (conditioned) stimulus with an unconditioned (involuntary) stimulus so that the conditioned stimulus eventually elicits the response normally elicited by the unconditioned stimulus.

Operant conditioning

  • Antecedent events or stimuli precede behaviors, which, in turn, are followed by consequences. Reinforcement aims to increase behavior frequency, whereas punishment aims to decrease it.
  • Antecedent ----> Response/Behavior -----> Consequence

Operant techniques

1. Positive reinforcement: Increases probability that behavior will occur—praising, giving tokens, or otherwise rewarding positive behavior.

2. Negative reinforcement: Behavior increases because a negative (aversive) stimulus is removed (i.e., remove shock).

3. Positive punishment: Presentation of undesirable stimulus following a behavior for the purpose of decreasing or eliminating that behavior (i.e., hitting, shocking).

4. Negative punishment: Removal of a desirable stimulus following a behavior for the purpose of decreasing or eliminating that behavior (i.e., removing something positive, such as a token or dessert).


Aversion Therapy

Any treatment aimed at reducing the attractiveness of a stimulus or a behavior by repeated pairing of it with an aversive stimulus. An example of this is treating alcoholism with Antabuse.



Behavior training program that teaches a person how to control certain functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and muscular tension. Biofeedback is often used for Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Anxiety Disorders



Withholding a reinforcer that normally follows a behavior. Behavior that fails to produce reinforcement will eventually cease.



A treatment procedure in which a client’s anxiety is extinguished by prolonged real or imagined exposure to high-intensity feared stimuli.


In vivo desensitization

Pairing and movement through a hierarchy of anxiety, from least to most anxiety provoking situations; takes place in “real” setting.


Rational Emotive Therapy (RET)

A cognitively oriented therapy in which a social worker seeks to change a client’s irrational beliefs by argument, persuasion, and rational reevaluation and by teaching a client to counter self-defeating thinking with new, nondistressing self-statements.



Method used to train a new behavior by prompting and reinforcing successive approximations of the desired behavior.


Sytematic desensitization

An anxiety-inhibiting response cannot occur at the same time as the anxiety response. Anxiety-producing stimulus is paired with relaxation-producing response so that eventually an anxiety-producing stimulus produces a relaxation response. At each step a client’s reaction of fear or dread is overcome by pleasant feelings engendered as the new behavior is reinforced by receiving a reward. The reward could be a compliment, a gift, or relaxation.


Theories of Spiritual development

  • Individuals are unwilling to accept a will greater than their own: Behavior is chaotic, disordered, and reckless. Individuals tend to defy and disobey, and are extremely egoistic.
  • Individuals have blind faith in authority figures and see the world as divided simply into good and evil and right and wrong: Children who learn to obey their parents and other authority figures move to this point in the continuum.
  • Scientific skepticism and questioning are critical, because an individual does not accept things on faith, but only if convinced logically.
  • The individual starts enjoying the mystery and beauty of nature and existence: The individual develops a deeper understanding of good and evil, forgiveness and mercy, compassion and love. Religiousness and spirituality differ significantly from other points in the continuum and things are not accepted on blind faith or out of fear.
  • Basic principles of all models move from the “egocentric,” which are associated particularly with childhood, to “conformist,” and eventually to “integration” or “universal.”

Theories of racial/ethnic development

  • Ethnicity refers to the idea that one is a member of a particular cultural, national, or racial group that may share culture, religion, race, language, or place of origin. Two people can share the same race but have different ethnicities.
  • Cultural identity is often defined as the identity of a group or culture of an individual who is influenced by his or her self-identification with that group or culture.

Three-stage model for adolescent cultural and ethnic identity development

  • The first stage, unexamined cultural, racial, and ethnic identity, is characterized by a lack of exploration of culture, race, and ethnicity and cultural, racial, and ethnic differences.
  • The second stage of the model is referred to as the cultural, racial, and ethnic identity search and is characterized by the exploration and questioning of culture, race, and ethnicity in order to learn more about them and to understand the implications of belonging.
  • Finally, the third stage of the model is cultural, racial, and ethnic identity achievement. Ideally, people at this stage have a clear sense of their cultural, racial, and ethnic identity and are able to successfully navigate it in the contemporary world, which is undoubtedly very interconnected and intercultural.

Classic model of cultural, racial, and ethnic identity development

  • Preencounter: At this point, the client may not be consciously aware of his or her culture, race, or ethnicity and how it may affect his or her life.
  • Encounter: A client has an encounter that provokes thought about the role of cultural, racial, and ethnic identification in his or her life. This may be a negative or positive experience related to culture, race, and ethnicity. For minorities, this experience is often a negative one in which they experience discrimination for the first time.
  • Immersion–Emersion: After an encounter that forces a client to confront cultural, racial, and ethnic identity, a period of exploration follows. A client may search for information and will also learn through interaction with others from the same cultural, racial, or ethnic groups.
  • Internalization and Commitment: At this point, a client has developed a secure sense of identity and is comfortable socializing both within and outside the group with which he or she identifies.

The effects of physical, mental, and cognitive disabilities throughout the lifespan

  • There may also be positive effects of disabilities because familial bonds may be stronger or individuals may develop skills to compensate for other tasks that cannot be performed.
  • Disability rights scholars and activists rejected the medical explanation for disability, since such explanations of permanent deficit did not advance social justice, equality of opportunity, and rights as citizens.
  • Words such as “inclusion,” “participation,” and “nondiscrimination” were introduced into the disability literature and reflected the notions that people who did not fit within the majority were disabled by stigma, prejudice, marginalization, segregation, and exclusion.

Maslow's heirarchy of needs

card image
  • Deficiency Needs: these needs arise due to deprivation. The satisfaction of these needs helps to “avoid” unpleasant feelings or consequence
    • Physiological
    • Safety
    • Social
    • Esteem
  • Growth Needs: They come from a place of growth rather than from a place of “lacking.” A client must satisfy lower-level basic needs before moving on to meet higher-level growth needs.
    • Self-actualization
  • On the examination, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often not explicitly asked about, but it can be applied when asked about the order of prioritizing problems or issues with a client.

Attachment theory

  • Bowlby defined attachment as a lasting psychological connectedness between human beings that can be understood within an evolutionary context in which a caregiver provides safety and security for a child.
    • Initially form only one primary attachment (monotropy) and this attachment figure acts as a secure base for exploring the world
    • Critical period for developing attachment is within the first 5 years of life.
  • Another major theory of attachment that suggests attachment is a set of learned behaviors. The basis for the learning of attachments is the provision of food. A child will initially form an attachment to whoever feeds it.

Personality theories

  • Biological theories suggest that genetics are responsible for personality. Research on heritability suggests that there is a link between genetics and personality traits.
  • Behavioral theories suggest that personality is a result of interaction between the individual and the environment. Behavioral theorists study observable and measurable behaviors, rejecting theories that take internal thoughts and feelings into account.
  • Psychodynamic theories emphasize the influence of the unconscious mind and childhood experiences on personality.
  • Humanist theories emphasize the importance of free will and individual experience in the development of personality. Humanist theorists emphasized the concept of self-actualization, which is an innate need for personal growth that motivates behavior.
  • Trait theories posit that the personality is made up of a number of broad traits. A trait is basically a relatively stable characteristic that causes an individual to behave in certain ways.

Theories of conflict

  • Conflict theorists challenge the status quo, encourage social change, and believe rich and powerful people force social order on the poor and the weak.
  • Conflict theorists note that unequal groups usually have conflicting values and agendas, causing them to compete against one another. This constant competition between groups forms the basis for the ever-changing nature of society.


  • Self-image is how a client defines himself or herself, which is often tied to physical description, social roles, personal traits, and/or existential beliefs. It is how a client sees himself or herself.
  • Self-esteem refers to the extent to which a client accepts or approves of this definition. Self-esteem always involves a degree of evaluation that may produce positive or negative feelings.
  • Generally, self-esteem is relatively high in childhood, drops during adolescence, rises gradually throughout adulthood, and then declines sharply in old age.

Feminist theory

  • Feminism is a political, cultural, or economic movement aimed at establishing equal rights and legal protection for women.
  • Feminist theorists question the differences between women and men, including how race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, and age intersect with gender.

Basic principles of human genetics

  • A social worker must understand the types of genetic conditions, including single-gene disorders, chromosome anomalies, and multifactorial disorders, and the effect of harmful environmental toxins on development.
  • Furthermore, an understanding of the patterns of inheritance between generations (autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive, and X-linked recessive) is essential in working with families.
  • Social workers should provide counseling before and after the decision to have a genetic test and after the test itself.

The family life cycle

  • Stage 1: Family of origin experiences:
    • Maintaining relationships with parents, siblings, and peers
    • Completing education
    • Developing the foundations of a family life
  • Stage 2: Leaving home
    • Differentiating self from family of origin and parents and developing adult-to-adult relationships with parents
    • Developing intimate peer relationships
    • Beginning work, developing work identity, and financial independence
  • Stage 3: Premarriage stage
    • Selecting partners
    • Developing a relationship
    • Deciding to establish own home with someone
  • Stage 4: Childless couple stage
    • Developing a way to live together both practically and emotionally
    • Adjusting relationships with families of origin and peers to include partner
  • Stage 5: Family with young children
    • Realigning family system to make space for children
    • Adopting and developing parenting roles
    • Realigning relationships with families of origin to include parenting and grandparenting roles
    • Facilitating children to develop peer relationships
  • Stage 6: Family with adolescents
    • Adjusting parent-child relationships to allow adolescents more
    • autonomy
    • Adjusting family relationships to focus on the midlife relationship and
    • career issues
    • Taking on the responsibility of caring for families of origin
  • Stage 7: Launching children
    • Resolving midlife issues
    • Negotiating adult-to-adult relationships with children
    • Adjusting to living as a couple again
    • Adjusting to including in-laws and grandchildren within the family circle
    • Dealing with disabilities and death in the family of origin
  • Stage 8: Later family life
    • Coping with physiological decline in self and others
    • Adjusting to children taking a more central role in family maintenance
    • Valuing the wisdom and experience of the elderly
    • Dealing with loss of spouse and peers
    • Preparing for death, life review, and reminiscence

Theories of couple's development

  • Stage 1: Romance
    • The focus of this stage is attachment. Like early stages of child development, the infancy of couples development is filled with passion, nurturing, and selfless attention to the needs of others.
    • In this first stage, members engage in symbiotic or mutualistic relationships—often putting the needs of others before their own.
  • Stage 2: Power struggle
    • As the coupled individuals begin to notice differences and annoyances that were once overlooked, there can be greater separation and loss of romance resulting from self-expression.
    • Differentiation, or seeing oneself as distinct within a relationship, must be managed so that these new feelings do not result in breakups as the illusion of “being one” fades.
    • To “survive” this stage, individuals must acknowledge differences, learn to share power, forfeit fantasies of complete harmony, and accept partners without the need to change them.
  • Stage 3: Stability
    • This stage in couples development is characterized by the redirection of personal attention, time, and activities away from partners and toward one’s self.
    • They may rely more heavily on companionship and intimacy, seeking more comfort and support from each other.
    • Thus, the stability stage is a time when there is still some back and forth between intimacy and independence with the ultimate goal being intimacy that does not sacrifice separateness.
  • Stage 4: Commitment
    • Individuals who have stabilized are able to embrace the reality that both partners are human, resulting in shortcomings in all relationships.
    • Partners acknowledge that they want to be with each other and that the good outweighs the bad.
  • Stage 5: Co-Creation
    • Constancy is the hallmark of this last stage.
    • The foundation of the relationship is no longer personal need, but the appreciation and love of the other and the support and respect for mutual growth.
    • This stage aims to make a contribution beyond the relationship itself.
  • Stages are not linear and couples can revert back to previous stages.

Defense mechanisms

  • Defense mechanisms are automatic, involuntary, usually unconscious psychological activities to exclude unacceptable thoughts, urges, threats, and impulses from awareness for fear of disapproval, punishment, or other negative outcomes. 1. Acting Out—emotional conflict is dealt with through actions rather than feelings (i.e., instead of talking about feeling neglected, a person will get into trouble to get attention). 2. Compensation—enables one to make up for real or fancied deficiencies (i.e., a person who stutters becomes a very expressive writer; a short man assumes a cocky, overbearing manner). 3. Conversion—repressed urge is expressed disguised as a disturbance of body function, usually of the sensory, voluntary nervous system (as pain, deafness, blindness, paralysis, convulsions, tics). 4. Decompensation—deterioration of existing defenses. 5. Denial—primitive defense; inability to acknowledge true significance of thoughts, feelings, wishes, behavior, or external reality factors that are consciously intolerable. 6. Devaluation—a defense mechanism frequently used by persons with borderline personality organization in which a person attributes exaggerated negative qualities to self or another. It is the split of primitive idealization. 7. Dissociation—a process that enables a person to split mental functions in a manner that allows him or her to express forbidden or unconscious impulses without taking responsibility for the action, either because he or she is unable to remember the disowned behavior, or because it is not experienced as his or her own (i.e., pathologically expressed as fugue states, amnesia, or dissociative neurosis, or normally expressed as daydreaming). 8. Displacement—directing an impulse, wish, or feeling toward a person or situation that is not its real object, thus permitting expression in a less threatening situation (i.e., a man angry at his boss kicks his dog). 9. Idealization—overestimation of an admired aspect or attribute of another. 10. Identification—universal mechanism whereby a person patterns himself or herself after a significant other. Plays a major role in personality development, especially superego development. 11. Identification With the Aggressor—mastering anxiety by identifying with a powerful aggressor (such as an abusing parent) to counteract feelings of helplessness and to feel powerful oneself. Usually involves behaving like the aggressor (i.e., abusing others after one has been abused oneself). 12. Incorporation—primitive mechanism in which psychic representation of a person is (or parts of a person are) figuratively ingested. 13. Inhibition—loss of motivation to engage in (usually pleasurable) activity and is avoided because it might stir up conflict over forbidden impulses (i.e., writing, learning, or work blocks or social shyness). 14. Introjection—loved or hated external objects are symbolically absorbed within self (converse of projection; i.e., in severe depression, unconscious unacceptable hatred is turned toward self). 15. Intellectualization—where the person avoids uncomfortable emotions by focusing on facts and logic. Emotional aspects are completely ignored as being irrelevant. Jargon is often used as a device of intellectualization. By using complex terminology, the focus is placed on the words rather than the emotions. 16. Isolation of Affect—unacceptable impulse, idea, or act is separated from its original memory source, thereby removing the original emotional charge associated with it. 17. Projection—primitive defense; attributing one’s disowned attitudes, wishes, feelings, and urges to some external object or person. 18. Projective Identification—a form of projection utilized by persons with borderline personality disorder—unconsciously perceiving others’ behavior as a reflection of one’s own identity. 19. Rationalization—third line of defense; not unconscious. Giving believable explanation for irrational behavior; motivated by unacceptable unconscious wishes or by defenses used to cope with such wishes. 20. Reaction Formation—person adopts affects, ideas, attitudes, or behaviors that are opposites of those he or she harbors consciously or unconsciously (i.e., excessive moral zeal masking strong, but repressed asocial impulses or being excessively sweet to mask unconscious anger). 21. Regression—partial or symbolic return to more infantile patterns of reacting or thinking. Can be in service to ego (i.e., as a dependency during illness). 22. Repression—key mechanism; expressed clinically by amnesia or symptomatic forgetting serving to banish unacceptable ideas, fantasies, affects, or impulses from consciousness. 23. Splitting—defensive mechanism associated with borderline personality disorder in which a person perceives self and others as “all good” or “all bad.” Splitting serves to protect the good objects. A person cannot integrate the good and bad in people. 24. Sublimation—potentially maladaptive feelings or behaviors are diverted into socially acceptable, adaptive channels (i.e., a person who has angry feelings channels them into athletics). 25. Substitution—unattainable or unacceptable goal, emotion, or object is replaced by one more attainable or acceptable. 26. Symbolization—a mental representation stands for some other thing, class of things, or attribute. This mechanism underlies dream formation and some other symptoms (such as conversion reactions, obsessions, compulsions) with a link between the latent meaning of the symptom and the symbol; usually unconscious. 27. Turning Against Self—defense to deflect hostile aggression or other unacceptable impulses from another to self. 28. Undoing—a person uses words or actions to symbolically reverse or negate unacceptable thoughts, feelings, or actions (i.e., a person compulsively washing hands to deal with obsessive thoughts).

Risk factors for substance abuse

1. Family: Parents, siblings, and/or spouse use substances; family dysfunction (i.e., inconsistent discipline, poor parenting skills, lack of positive family rituals and routine); family trauma (i.e., death, divorce)

2. Social: Peers use drugs and alcohol; social or cultural norms condone use of substances; expectations about positive effects of drugs and alcohol; drugs and alcohol are available and accessible

3. Psychiatric: Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, low tolerance for stress; other mental health disorders; feelings of desperation; loss of control over one’s life

4. Behavioral: Use of other substances; aggressive behavior in childhood; impulsivity and risk-taking; rebelliousness; school-based academic or behavioral problems; poor interpersonal relationships


Substance abuse treatment models

  • Biopsychosocial model: It incorporates hereditary predisposition, emotional and psychological problems, social influences, and environmental problems.
  • Medical model: Addiction is considered a chronic, progressive, relapsing, and potentially fatal medical disease.
    • Genetic causes: Inherited vulnerability to addiction, particularly alcoholism
    • Brain reward mechanisms: Substances act on parts of the brain that reinforce continued use by producing pleasurable feelings
    • Altered brain chemistry: Habitual use of substances alters brain chemistry and continued use of substances is required to avoid feeling discomfort from a brain imbalance
  • Self-medication model: Substances relieve symptoms of a psychiatric disorder and continued use is reinforced by relief of symptoms.
  • Family and environmental model: Explanation for substance abuse can be found in family and environmental factors such as behaviors shaped by family and peers, personality factors, physical and sexual abuse, disorganized communities, and school factors.
  • Social model: Drug use is learned and reinforced from others who serve as role models. There are no controls that prevent use of substances. Social, economic, and political factors, such as racism, poverty, sexism, and so on, contribute to the cause.
  • A client’s substance abuse problem must be addressed before other psychotherapeutic issues

Substance use disorder

  • Substance Use Disorder in the DSM-5 combines the DSM-IV categories of Substance Abuse and Substance Dependence into a single disorder measured on a continuum from mild to severe.
  • Each specific substance (other than caffeine, which cannot be diagnosed as a substance use disorder) is addressed as a separate use disorder (Alcohol Use Disorder, Stimulant Use Disorder, etc.).
  • Mild Substance Use Disorder in DSM-5 requires two to three symptoms from a list of 11.
  • Drug craving is added to the list, and problems with law enforcement is eliminated because of cultural considerations that make the criteria difficult to apply.

Gambling disorder

  • Gambling Disorder is the sole condition in a new category on behavioral addictions.
  • Its inclusion here reflects research findings that Gambling Disorder is similar to Substance-Related Disorders in clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity, physiology, and treatment.

Goals of substance use treatment

1. Abstinence from substances

2. Maximizing life functioning

3. Preventing or reducing the frequency and severity of relapse


Stages of substance use treatment

1. Stabilization: Focus is on establishing abstinence, accepting a substance abuse problem, and committing oneself to making changes

2. Rehabilitation/habilitation: Focus is on remaining substance-free by establishing a stable lifestyle, developing coping and living skills, increasing supports, and grieving loss of substance use

3. Maintenance: Focus is on stabilizing gains made in treatment, relapse prevention, and termination


Associated symptoms and disorders of alcohol abuse

  • Delirium tremens (DTs) is a symptom associated with alcohol withdrawal that includes hallucinations, rapid respiration, temperature abnormalities, and body tremors.
  • Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s syndrome are disorders associated with chronic abuse of alcohol.
    • They are caused by a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency resulting from the chronic consumption of alcohol.
    • A person with Korsakoff’s syndrome has memory problems.
    • Treatment is administration of thiamine.

Treatment approaches of substance use disorder

  • Medication-assisted treatment interventions assist with interfering with the symptoms associated with use.
  • Methadone: a client uses it to detox from opiates or on a daily basis as a substitute for heroin.
  • Antabuse: is a medication that produces highly unpleasant side effects (flushing, nausea, vomiting, hypotension, and anxiety) if a client drinks alcohol; it is a form of “aversion therapy.”
  • Naltrexone is a drug used to reduce cravings for alcohol; it also blocks the effects of opioids.
  • Psychosocial or psychological interventions modify maladaptive feelings, attitudes, and behaviors through individual, group, marital, or family therapy.
    • Examines the roles that are adopted within families in which substance abuse occurs; for example, the “family hero,” “scapegoat,” “lost child,” or “mascot” (a family member who alleviates pain in the family by joking around).
  • Behavioral therapies ameliorate or extinguish undesirable behaviors and encourage desired ones through behavior modification.
  • Self-help groups (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous) provide mutual support and encouragement while becoming abstinent or in remaining abstinent.

Systems theory terms

  • Closed system: Uses up its energy and dies
  • Differentiation: Becoming specialized in structure and function
  • Entropy: Closed, disorganized, stagnant; using up available energy
  • Equifinality: Arriving at the same end from different beginnings
  • Homeostasis: Steady state
  • Input: Obtaining resources from the environment that are necessary to attain the goals of the system
  • Negative entropy: Exchange of energy and resources between systems that promote growth and transformation
  • Open: system A system with cross-boundary exchange
  • Output: A product of the system that exports to the environment
  • Subsystem: A major component of a system made up of two or more interdependent components that interact in order to attain their own purpose(s) and the purpose(s) of the system in which they are embedded
  • Suprasystem: An entity that is served by a number of component systems organized in interacting relationships
  • Throughput: Energy that is integrated into the system so it can be used by the system to accomplish its goals

Role theories

When assessing, social workers view problems as differences between clients’ behaviors and the expectations of others with regard to roles.

  • Role: the collection of expectations that accompany a particular social position.
  • Role ambiguity: lack of clarity of role
  • Role complementarity: the role is carried out in an expected way (i.e., parent–child; social worker–client)
  • Role discomplementarity: the role expectations of others differ from one’s own
  • Role reversal: when two or more individuals switch roles
  • Role conflict: incompatible or conflicting expectations

Theories of group development and functioning

  • Psychodrama is a treatment approach in which roles are enacted in a group context. Members of the group re-create their problems and devote themselves to the role dilemmas of each member.
  • The stages of group development are: 1. Preaffiliation—development of trust (known as forming) 2. Power and control—struggles for individual autonomy and group identification (known as storming) 3. Intimacy—utilizing self in service of the group (known as norming) 4. Differentiation—acceptance of each other as distinct individuals (known as performing) 5. Separation/termination—independence (known as adjourning)
  • Factors affecting group cohesion include:
    • Group size
    • Homogeneity: similarity of group members
    • Participation in goal and norm setting for group
    • Interdependence: dependent on one another for achievement of
    • common goals
    • Member stability: frequent change in membership results in less cohesiveness

Key concepts of group think

  • There are eight causes of groupthink: 1. Illusion of invulnerability—excessive optimism is created that encourages taking extreme risks. 2. Collective rationalization—members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions. 3. Belief in inherent morality—members believe in the rightness of their cause and ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions. 4. Stereotyped views of those “on the out”—negative views of the “enemy” make the conflict seem unnecessary. 5. Direct pressure on dissenters—members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views. 6. Self-censorship—doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed. 7. Illusion of unanimity—the majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous. 8. Self-appointed “mindguards”—members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, views, and/or decisions.
  • Group polarization occurs during group decision making when discussion strengthens a dominant point of view and results in a shift to a more extreme position than any of the members would adopt on their own.
    • These more extreme decisions are toward greater risk if individuals’ initial tendencies are to be risky and toward greater caution if individuals’ initial tendencies are to be cautious.

Theories of social change and community development

  • Community development: neighborhood work aimed at improving the quality of community life through the participation of a broad spectrum of people at the local level.
    • Community development is a long-term commitment.
    • It is not a quick fix to address a community’s problems, nor is it a time-limited process.
    • It aims to address imbalances in power and bring about change founded on social justice, equality, and inclusion.
    • Its key purpose is to build communities based on justice, equality, and mutual respect.

Family systems theory

The family systems approach is based on several basic assumptions:

  • Each family is more than a sum of its members.
  • Each family is unique, due to the infinite variations in personal
  • characteristics and cultural and ideological styles.
  • A healthy family has flexibility, consistent structure, and effective exchange of information.
    • Boundaries influence the movement of people and the flow of information into and out of the system.
  • The family is an interactional system whose component parts have constantly shifting boundaries and varying degrees of resistance to change.
  • Families must fulfill a variety of functions for each member, both collectively and individually, if each member is to grow and develop.
  • Families strive for a sense of balance or homeostasis.
  • Negative feedback loops are those patterns of interaction that maintain stability or constancy (homeostasis) while minimizing change.
  • Positive feedback loops, in contrast, are patterns of interaction that facilitate change or movement toward either growth or dissolution.
  • Families are seen as being goal-oriented.
    • The concept of equifinality refers to the ability of the family system to accomplish the same goals through different routes.
  • The concept of hierarchies describes how families organize themselves into various smaller units or subsystems that are comprised by the larger family system.
  • Individual family members and the subsystems comprised by the family system are mutually influenced by and are mutually dependent upon one another.


  • Genograms are diagrams of family relationships beyond a family tree allowing a social worker and client to visualize hereditary patterns and psychological factors.
  • They include annotations about the medical history and major personality traits of each family member.
  • Genograms help uncover intergenerational patterns of behavior, marriage choices, family alliances and conflicts, the existence of family secrets, and other information that will shed light on a family’s present situation.

Strengths based and resilience theories

  • The strengths perspective is based on the assumption that clients have the capacity to grow, change, and adapt (humanistic approach).
  • Strength is any ability that helps an individual (or family) to confront and deal with a stressful life situation and to use the challenging situation as a stimulus for growth.
    • Individual strengths include, but are not limited to, cognitive abilities, coping mechanisms, personal attributes, interpersonal skills, or external resources.
    • Families may have other strengths such as kinship bonds, community supports, religious connections, flexible roles, strong ethnic traditions, and so on.
  • The strengths perspective focuses on understanding clients (or families) on the basis of their strengths and resources (internal and external) and mobilizing the resources to improve their situations. Methods to enhance strengths include:
    • Collaboration and partnership between a social worker and client
    • Creating opportunities for learning or displaying competencies
    • Environmental modification—environment is both a resource and a target of intervention

Stress, trauma and violence

  • Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that destroy a sense of security, making a client feel helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world.
  • Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves a client feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it does not involve physical harm.
  • Clients are more likely to be traumatized by a stressful experience if they are already under a heavy stress load or have recently suffered a series of losses.
    • Clients are also more likely to be traumatized by a new situation if they have been traumatized before—especially if the earlier trauma occurred in childhood.
  • Children who have been traumatized see the world as a frightening and dangerous place.
    • When childhood trauma is not resolved, this fundamental sense of fear and helplessness carries over into adulthood, setting the stage for further trauma.

Crisis Intervention theories

1. Plan and conduct a thorough biopsychosocial–spiritual–cultural and lethality/imminent danger assessment.

2. Make psychological contact and rapidly establish the collaborative relationship.

3. Identify the major problems, including crisis precipitants

4. Encourage an exploration of feelings and emotions

5. Generate and explore alternatives and new coping strategies

6. Restore functioning through implementation of an action plan

7. Plan follow-up

A precipitating cause of a crisis does not have to be a major event. It may be the “last straw” in a series of events that exceed a client’s ability to cope.


The ecological perspective

  • Is rooted in systems theory, which views coping as a transactional process that reflects the “PIE” relationship.
  • The focus of intervention is the interface between a client (person, family, group, etc.) and a client’s environment.
  • Is also concerned with the issues of power and privilege and how they are withheld from some groups, imposing enormous stress on affected individuals

Person in environment

  • The PIE classification system is field-tested and examines social role functioning, the environment, mental health, and physical health.
  • Includes following:
    • Micro, Mezzo, and Macro Approach
    • Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Approach
    • Systems Theory
    • Ecological Theory
    • Ecosystems Theory

Communication styles that inhibit progress

  • Silence is very effective when faced with a client who is experiencing a high degree of emotion, because the silence indicates acceptance of these feelings. 1. Using “shoulds” and “oughts” may be perceived as moralizing or sermonizing by a client and elicit feelings of resentment, guilt, or obligation. 2. Offering advice or solutions prematurely, before thorough exploration of the problem, may cause resistance because a client is not ready to solve the problem. 3. Using logical arguments, lecturing, or arguing to convince a client to take another viewpoint may result in a power struggle with a client. 4. Judging, criticizing, and blaming are detrimental to a client, as well as to the therapeutic relationship. 5. Talking to a client in professional jargon and defining a client in terms of his or her diagnosis may result in a client viewing himself or herself in the same way (as “sick”). 6. Providing reassurance prematurely or without a genuine basis is often for a social worker’s benefit rather than a client’s. 7. Ill-timed or frequent interruptions disrupt the interview process and can annoy clients. 8. It is counterproductive to permit excessive social interactions rather than therapeutic interactions. 9. Social workers must provide structure and direction to the therapeutic process on a moment-to-moment basis in order to maximize the helping process.

Communication concepts

  • Acceptance: An acknowledgment of “what is.” Acceptance does not pass judgment on a circumstance and allows clients to let go of frustration and disappointment, stress and anxiety, regret and false hopes. The main thing that gets in the way of acceptance is wanting to be in control.
  • Cognitive dissonance: Arises when a person has to choose between two contradictory attitudes and beliefs. Three ways to reduce dissonance are to (a) reduce the importance of conflicting beliefs, (b) acquire new beliefs that change the balance, or (c) remove the conflicting attitude or behavior.
  • Double bind: Offering two contradictory messages and prohibiting the recipient from noticing the contradiction.
  • Echolalia: Repeating noises and phrases. It is associated with Catatonia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Schizophrenia, and other disorders.
  • Information: Anything people perceive from their environments or from within themselves.
  • Metacommunication: The context within which to interpret the content of the message (i.e., nonverbal communication, body language, vocalizations).
  • Manifest content: is the concrete words or terms contained in a communication.
  • Latent content: is that which is not visible, the underlying meaning of words or terms.

Psychoanalytic theory

  • A client is seen as the product of his past and treatment involves dealing with the repressed material in the unconscious.
  • Personalities arise because of attempts to resolve conflicts between unconscious sexual and aggressive impulses and societal demands to restrain these impulses.
  • Three levels of awareness:
    • Conscious: information that a client is paying attention to at any given time.
    • Preconscious: information outside of a client’s attention but readily available if needed.
    • Unconscious: thoughts, feelings, desires, and memories of which clients have no awareness but that influence every aspect of their day-to-day lives.
  • Three components:
    • Id: A reservoir of instinctual energy that contains biological urges such as impulses toward survival, sex, and aggression. Unconscious and operates according to the pleasure principle, the drive to achieve pleasure and avoid pain.
    • Ego: The component that manages the conflict between the id and the constraints of the real world. Some parts of the ego are unconscious, whereas others are preconscious or conscious. The reality principle—the awareness that gratification of impulses has to be delayed in order to accommodate the demands of the real world.
      • Ego-Syntonic/Ego-Dystonic:
        • Syntonic = behaviors “insync” with the ego (no guilt)
        • Dystonic = behavior “dis-n-sync” with the ego (guilt)
    • Superego: The moral component of personality. It contains all the moral standards learned from parents and society.
  • The primary technique used is analysis (of dreams, resistances, transferences, and free associations).

Psychosexual stages of devlopment

card image

Individual psychology

  • Alfred Alder believed that the main motivation for human behavior is striving for perfection.
    • Children naturally feel weak and inadequate in comparison to adults and this drives them to adapt, develop skills, and master challenges.
    • Compensation: refers to the attempt to shed normal feelings of inferiority.
  • The aim of therapy is to develop a more adaptive lifestyle by overcoming feelings of inferiority and self-centeredness and to contribute more toward the welfare of others.


  • This approach defines the self as the central organizing and motivating force in personality.
  • As a result of receiving empathic responses from early caretakers (self-objects), a child’s needs are met and the child develops a strong sense of selfhood.
  • The objective of self psychology is to help a client develop a greater sense of self-cohesion.
  • Three self-object needs are:
  • Mirroring: behavior validates the child’s sense of a perfect self
  • Idealization: child borrows strength from others and identifies with someone more capable
  • Twinship/Twinning: child needs an alter ego for a sense of belonging

Ego psychology

  • Ego psychology focuses on the rational, conscious processes of the ego.
  • Ego psychology is based on an assessment of a client as presented in the present (here and now).
  • Treatment focuses on the ego functioning of a client, because healthy behavior is under the control of the ego. It addresses:
    • Behavior in varying situations
    • Reality testing: perception of a situation
    • Coping abilities: ego strengths
    • Capacity for relating to others
  • The goal is to maintain and enhance the ego’s control and management of stress and its effects.

Object relations theory

card image
  • Margaret Mahler, lifelong relationship skills are strongly rooted in early attachments with parents, especially mothers.
  • Objects refer to people, parts of people, or physical items that symbolically represent either a person or part of a person.

Stages of grief

  • Developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, five stages:
    • Denial and isolation: Shock is replaced with the feeling of “this can’t be happening to me.”
    • Anger: The emotional confusion that results from this loss may lead to anger and finding someone or something to blame—“why me?”
    • Bargaining: The next stage may result in trying to negotiate with one’s self (or a higher power) to attempt to change what has occurred.
    • Depression: A period of sadness and loneliness will then occur, in which a person reflects on his or her grief and loss.
    • Acceptance: After time feeling depressed about the loss, a person will eventually be at peace with what happened.
    • Hope is not a separate stage, but is possible at any stage.