Theories A Social Worker Might Employ To Assess A Family Social Work Essay

The purpose of this essay is to utilize cognition of human growing and development to critically discourse the theories a societal worker might use to measure a household and better understand their behavior. A household profile will be provided and two household members selected for farther treatment and the application of appropriate theories. These theories will be critiqued in footings of how they might help societal workers in doing informed appraisals, every bit good as where the theories are limited in their application.

Sylvie and Greg met when they were 19-years of age. They had been together for 5-years when their girl Molly was born. They split up when Molly was 1-years old, but got back together 6-years subsequently when Molly was 7-years of age. Greg said that they split up because he was unable to manage Sylvie ‘s entire deficiency of trust in him. This caused immense statements between them, with Sylvie invariably oppugning where he was and his committedness to his household. Sylvie said that she was devastated when Greg left, but knew that it was traveling to go on. During their clip apart Sylvie turned to alcohol and drugs, but sought guidance and support for this and the issues in her yesteryear. As a consequence, she has been drug and intoxicant free for over 4-years.

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Greg ever maintained a good relationship with Molly during the 6-year separation and she lived with him and her paternal Grandparents at different points when Sylvie was non get bying. Molly said that she was happy that her parents got back together.

Mason was planned and both Sylvie and Greg felt they had resolved historic issues and were committed as a household unit to holding another kid. Mason was born with Global Developmental Delay, which is a status that occurs between birth to 18-years of age and is normally characterised by lower rational operation and important restrictions in communicating and other developmental accomplishments. Sylvie blames herself for Mason ‘s status, believing that it must someway be linked to her ‘wild ‘ old ages of imbibing and drug orgies. Despite being reassured to the contrary by medical professionals and a societal worker, she remains low in temper and feels that she has let everyone down. Sylvie has found adhering with Mason hard and she feels frustrated by him non run intoing his developmental mileposts. Mason is in diapers, he is non yet speaking, he is really unsteady on his pess and he lacks co-ordination. As a consequence, he still requires feeding at mealtimes and has non begun to develop independent accomplishments. Sylvie has said that she feels like ‘sending him someplace. ‘ Greg, on the other manus, feels really affiliated and protective towards Mason and Sylvie feels that he ‘lets him acquire off with anything. ‘ Conflict has developed between Sylvie and Greg, ensuing in Greg remaining at work longer and run intoing up with his friends more in an attempt to avoid the statements and tenseness at place.

Elsie, female parent to Greg, owns the big household place in which they all live. Sylvie and Greg decided that they would travel in with her shortly after they got back together, as Greg ‘s male parent died really out of the blue. The program was that they would all back up one another financially, practically and emotionally. Elsie is really involved with the kids as both parents work. However, late Elsie has been burying things, such as roll uping Mason from the specializer childminder and this has caused tenseness between the grownups.

There have been some troubles with Molly at school. Sylvie was called in to Molly ‘s school last hebdomad as a consequence of Molly utilizing racist linguistic communication towards another pupil. The school province that Molly is really near to being excluded, as a consequence of her angry and riotous behavior. Sylvie broke down upon hearing this and explained about her low temper, feelings of desperation and concerns about Greg ‘s Dendranthema grandifloruom. Sylvie can non understand the alteration in Molly ‘s behavior and said that she and Greg need aid.

Using Human Growth and Development to Social Work

As portion of this essay, there will be a focal point on two members of this household: Molly and Elsie. The two theories of human growing and development to be applied to Molly are Attachment Theory and Life Course Theory. The two theories of human growing and development to be applied to Elsie are Ecological Theory and Disengagement Theory.

Anti-oppressive pattern will underlie the review and has been defined as “ a signifier of societal work pattern which addresses societal divisions and structural inequalities in the work that is done with ‘clients ‘ ( users ) and workers ” ( Dominelli, 1993, p. 24 ) . Anti-oppressive pattern is a person-centred attack synonymous with Carl Rogers ( 1980 ) doctrine of person-centred pattern. It is designed to authorise persons by cut downing the negative effects of hierarchy, with the accent being on a holistic attack to assessment. Rehearsing in an anti-oppressive manner requires valuing differences life styles and personal individualities. This goes against common sense socialization which portrays differences as inferior or pathological and which excludes persons from the societal universe and denies them their rights.


Attachment Theory

Attachment Theory is a psychological theory based on the premiss that immature kids require an fond regard relationship with at least one consistent health professional within their lives for normal societal and emotional development ( Bowlby, 1958 ) . Attachment is an emotional bond between an person and an attachment figure, normally the individual who cares for them. Psychologically, attachment provides a kid with security. Biologically, it provides a kid with endurance. Ainsworth et Al. ( 1978 ) formulated four types of fond regard that provide a tool for societal workers to measure and understand kids ‘s emotional experiences and psychosocial operation: secure ; insecure, ambivalent ; insecure, avoiding ; and disorganised.

Molly appears demonstrates insecure, ambivalent fond regards, where parental attention is inconsistent and unpredictable. This type of fond regard is characterised by parents who fail to sympathize with their kids ‘s tempers, demands and feelings. Indeed, Sylvie can non understand the alteration in Molly ‘s behavior, bespeaking an inability to sympathize with Molly.

Children with insecure and ambivalent fond regards frequently become progressively baffled and frustrated. They can go demanding, attending seeking, angry and needed, making problem in order to maintain other people involved and interested. Feelingss are acted out, as Molly has been making at school. This is because insensitive and inconsistent attention is interpreted by the kid to intend that they are unworthy of love and unlovable. Such painful feelings undermine self-esteem and assurance and an apprehension of this can guarantee that societal workers resist stereotypes of the Moody, anti-social adolescent, and alternatively research the implicit in grounds for alterations in temper.

For Molly, the development of an attachment figure was probably to hold been compromised during her early developmental old ages. In peculiar, when Molly was between the ages of 1 and 7-years old, her female parent was addicted to drugs and intoxicant and therefore was emotionally and physically unavailable. Despite life with her male parent and paternal grandparents for a period of clip, the overall insecurity within her household unit is likely to hold impacted her ability to attach to others. If Molly did develop an attachment figure it is most likely to hold been with her male parent or maternal grandparents, who were non unavailable due to drug or intoxicant maltreatment during this critical developmental stage of Molly ‘s childhood.

Taking this into consideration, there are a figure of important alterations that have occurred in Molly ‘s life and that involve possible fond regard figures who have provided Molly with much-needed security and safety. For illustration, Molly ‘s male parent, whom Molly has remained near to throughout play within the household, is no longer at place as much in an attempt to avoid statements with Sylvie. When he is at place, the tenseness is likely to impact the continuance and quality of clip spent with Molly. Indeed, matrimonial struggle has been found to act upon striplings ‘ attachment security by cut downing the reactivity and effectivity of parenting ( Markiewicz, Doyle, and Brendgen, 2001 ) . Strained matrimonial relationships can besides take to increased marginalization of the male parent who can go distanced from their kids, as has been the instance within this household ( Markiewicz, Doyle, and Brendgen, 2001 ) .

In add-on, Molly has late lost her gramps, which her grandma is besides seeking to come to footings with. Not merely has Molly lost her gramps, but her grandma ‘s behavior is likely to hold changed as she comes to footings with her ain loss. All of the cardinal fond regard figures in Molly ‘s life are either emotionally or physically unavailable at present. It is of import to see this within the context of Molly ‘s current developmental phase, which is that of adolescence.

Attachments to equals tend to emerge in adolescence, but the function of parents remains critical in adolescents successfully accomplishing fond regards outside of the place. It is a clip when parents are required to be available if needed, while the adolescent makes their first independent stairss into the outside universe ( Allen and Land, 1999 ) . Molly ‘s recent jobs at school could be the consequence of this deficiency of handiness from grownups in her life. She might besides be dying about losing her male parent once more, making expectancy and fright about separation from an attachment figures. The choler she expresses at school could be transference of the choler and fright created by her unstable fortunes at place. The fact that she has become racially opprobrious might propose that her choler lies with her female parent, who is of double nationality.

The chief review of Attachment Theory has been in the pretense of the nature versus raising argument, the former being familial factors and the latter being the manner a kid is parented. Harris ( 1998 ) argues that parents do non determine their kid ‘s personality or character, but that a kid ‘s equals have more influence on them than their parents. She cites that kids are more influenced by their equals because they are eager to suit in. This statement is supported by duplicate surveies demoing that indistinguishable twins reared apart frequently develop the same avocations, wonts, and character traits ; the same has been found with fraternal twins reared together ( Loehlin et al. , 1985 ; Tellegen et al. , 1988 ; Jang et al. , 1998 ) . It is likely that raising plays a greater function in the younger old ages, when parents and health professionals are the kid ‘s primary point of contact. On the other manus, when a kid enters striplings and engages with society more, nature might take over.

Another restriction in Attachment Theory is the fact that theoretical account fond regard is based on behaviors that occur during nerve-racking separations instead than during non-stressful state of affairss. Field ( 1996 ) shrewdly argues that a broader apprehension of attachment requires observation of how the health professional and child interact during natural, non-stressful state of affairss. It is agreed that behavior directed towards the attachment figure during separation and reunion can non be the lone factors used to specify fond regard.

Despite these restrictions, the theory does supply valuable information sing relationship kineticss and bonds, which societal workers can utilize to better understanding the single being assessed. It is, nevertheless, of import to retrieve that what is seen as healthy fond regard will change culturally. Consideration of this is important to anti-oppressive pattern.

Life Course Theory

Life Course Theory has been defined as a “ sequence of socially defined events and functions that the single enacts over clip ” ( Giele and Elder, 1998, p. 22 ) . Within this theory, the household is perceived as a micro societal group within a macro societal context ( Bengston and Allen, 1993 ) . Harmonizing to Erikson ‘s 8 phases of human development, Molly is in phase five, which is characterised by a struggle between individuality versus function confusion. Being of double heritage might do issues within this phase and within Molly ‘s hunt for individuality. Evidence within the literature has shown that striplings of double heritage study more cultural geographic expedition, favoritism, and behavioral jobs than those of individual heritage ( Ward, 2005 ) . Indeed, this could explicate why Molly is being racially opprobrious, in an attempt to find her ain ideas and feelings on ethnicity and the confusion it can do. The racial maltreatment directed at other kids might even be representative of her ain choler at being of double heritage.

Adolescence is hard to specify, but it is traditionally assumed to be between 12-18 old ages of age and characterised by pubescence ( i.e. the transmutation from a kid to a immature individual ) . During this clip, endocrines strongly act upon temper swings and extremes of emotion, which might explicate Molly ‘s trouble commanding her choler at school. Adolescence is besides when an person starts to develop socially, increasing their independency and going more influenced by equals. During this clip, harmonizing to Piaget ‘s ( 1964 ) theory of cognitive development, an single enters the ‘formal operational phase ‘ and starts to understand abstract constructs, develop moral doctrines, set up and keep hearty personal relationships, and derive a greater sense of personal individuality and intent ( Santrock, 2008 ) .A Risks to societal and cognitive development include hapless parental supervising and subject, every bit good as household struggle ( Beinart et al. , 2002 ) , demoing this to be an of import clip to step in with Molly.

It is these biological and societal alterations during striplings that can make the stereotype of the Moody, anti-social adolescent. It is of import that societal workers do non let negative stereotypes to act upon their outlooks of Molly. Alternatively, they need to take a holistic attack and examine where she is on the life class every bit good as what the character and quality of Molly ‘s behavior and relationships tell them about her internal on the job theoretical account, defensive dispositions, emotional provinces and personality. This ant-oppressive attack will besides let societal workers to place links between past and present relationship experiences.


Ecological Theory

Bronfenbrenner ‘s ( 1977 ) Ecological Model of human development postulates that in order to understand human development, an person ‘s ecological system needs to be taken into consideration. Harmonizing to the theory, an person ‘s ecological system comprises five societal subsystems:

Micro-system – comprising activities and societal functions within the immediate environment.

Mesosystem – processes taking topographic point between two or more different societal scenes.

Exosystem – processes taking topographic point between two or more different societal systems, at least one of which does non affect the person but indirectly affects them.

Macrosystem – includes political orientation, attitudes, imposts, traditions, values and civilization.

Chronosystem – alteration or consistence over clip in single features and environmental features.

Ecological Theory is, overall, a theoretical account of how the societal environment affects the person, with these five systems interacting and therefore act uponing human growing and development.

Elsie ‘s ecological system has been continually altering for many old ages. At one point she was populating with her hubby, boy, and her granddaughter. This was followed by populating entirely with her hubby. On losing her hubby, Elsie ‘s boy moved in with his married woman and two kids, one of whom has a disablement. There has been really small environmental stableness within Elsie ‘s life, at least over the last 7-years or more. It is possibly apprehensible that her wellness has started to deteriorate. She has late lost her hubby, experienced continually fluctuating environmental conditions, and is now populating in a tense atmosphere due to issues within her boy ‘s matrimony. It is besides of import to observe that, kids ‘s behavior and personality can besides impact the behavior of grownups ; Elsie ‘s behavior might be negatively affected by her granddaughters struggle through adolescence and her grandson ‘s disablement. Taking into consideration Elsie ‘s ecological system highlights the importance of non doing premises that Elsie ‘s increased forgetting is a mark of dementedness ; her symptoms may be the consequence of emphasis within her ecological system.

Despite the relevancy of this theory to understanding Elsie ‘s state of affairs, the review does highlight restrictions in its operationalisation ( Wakefield, 1996 ) . In peculiar, since past experiences and future expectancies can impact an person ‘s current wellbeing, deficiency of inclusion of this component of human growing and development within the Ecological Model is a serious restriction. In add-on, the accent of the theoretical account is on version and therefore it has been argued that the theory can be abused and used to promote persons to accept oppressive fortunes ( Coady and Lehman, 2008 ) . Social workers utilizing this theory in their appraisals ideally need to be cognizant that subjugation and unfairness are portion of the environment that needs to be considered in an ecological analysis. With this consideration, the theory offers societal workers a manner of believing about and measuring the relatedness of persons and their environments ; the individual is assessed holistically and within the context of their societal fortunes.

Disengagement Theory

Detachment has been described by Cumming and Henry ( 1961 ) as “ an inevitable common backdown. . . ensuing in decreased interaction between the ageing individual and others in the societal systems he belongs to ” ( p. 227 ) . Within their theory, they argue that older people do non lend to society with the same efficiency as the younger population and therefore go a social load. In order to map, hence, society requires a procedure for withdrawing older people. By internalizing the norms of society, older people become socialized and take disengage from society due to a sense of duty. The theory farther intents that the extent to which an person disengages determines how good they adjust to older age. In other words, continued backdown from society in ulterior life has been deemed the trademark of successful and happy ripening.

Using this theory to Elsie ‘s state of affairs, it could be that the jobs environing her forgetfulness in roll uping her grandson from school is a measure towards societal detachment. Furthermore, it could be theorised that this detachment was prompted by her hubby taking the most utmost signifier of detachment, which is decease.

There has, nevertheless, been much review of this theory, including the fact that many older people do non conform to this image and stay actively involved in life and in society. Hochschild ( 1976 ) has criticised the theory with what has been termed the ‘omnibus variable. ‘ Hochschild points out that while an older individual might see detachment from certain societal activities, such as retiring from work, they are likely to replace this with something else that is socially prosecuting such as being more involved in the community or going more family-oriented. Indeed, Hochschild ‘s biggest challenge to Disengagement Theory was the presentation of grounds from Cumming and Henry ‘s ain informations demoing that many older people do non retreat from society.

Disengagement Theory creates a image of older people as missing freedom to move on their ain, therefore disregarding single ripening experiences and depicting the ageing procedure in a strictly societal context ( Gouldner, 1970 ) . Indeed, Estes et Al. ( 1982 ) argues that detachment is frequently forced upon older people, which supports the impression that old age is merely every bit much a societal building as it is a biological procedure. Older people are, in many ways, socialised into moving ‘old. ‘ Therefore, older age is strongly related to Labelling Theory ( Rosenthal and Jacobson, 1968 ) . For illustration, doing premises about old age and holding low outlooks of older people can go a self-fulfilling prognostication. This once more raises the importance of non presuming that Elsie ‘s forgetting is a mark of dementedness ; despite being seen as a natural effect of ripening, merely a minority of people develop dementedness ( Stuart-Hamilton, 2006 ) .

In many ways, Disengagement Theory serves to legalize the marginalization of older people and is, it could be argued, ageist and discriminative. Ageism is the application of negative stereotypes and includes actions such as categorizing older people individually from ‘adults. ‘ This has created huge argument within societal work pattern, with it being believed by some that separating older people from grownups is oppressive and can worsen societal isolation. Undertaking societal isolation is being encouraged in attempts to forestall deteriorating wellness in older age, proposing that detachment is far from the political orientation purported by Cumming ‘s and Henry ( DH, 2010 ) . The debut of the Equality Act 2010, which replaces the bing responsibilities on the populace sector to advance race, disablement and gender equality, now comprises a individual responsibility to advance equality across eight ‘protected ‘ features, one of which is age. The Act besides includes commissariats leting the authorities to do age favoritism in service planning and bringing improper. This is likely to be implemented in 2012 and therefore it is important that societal workers make anti-oppressive pattern in the signifier of undertaking agism a precedence. There needs to be a move off from sing older people as an homogeneous group characterised by passiveness, neglecting wellness, and dependence, as highlighted within Activity Theory.

Activity Theory ( Leont’ev, 1978 ) is a direct challenge to Disengagement Theory in that it suggests that life satisfaction is related to societal interaction and degree of activity. However, as with all theories discussed within this essay, Disengagement Theory can be applied to understanding Elsie ‘s state of affairs without being oppressive and without taking the utmost place that originally inspired the theory. More modern attacks to human growing and development clearly show the benefits of societal battle versus detachment ; nevertheless, detachment remains a cardinal factor to see due to ageist attitudes and the socialization of old age.


This essay has utilised theory and cognition of human growing and development to show how societal workers can do an informed appraisal of a complex household state of affairs. The strengths and restrictions of these theories have been discussed, pulling in peculiar on their application within anti-oppressive pattern. All theories offer a better apprehension of human growing and development, with some necessitating specific version to embrace the nucleus values of societal work pattern. Such version is non needfully a disadvantage if the cardinal strengths of each theory are utilized alongside the cognition and expertness of the societal worker.

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