We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Human development theories

The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

Over the years, there have been dozens of psychologists who have proposed hundreds of different theories regarding human development. These theories are read by educational professionals, who incorporate the parts of the theories that they believe in, into their own personal philosophy. Developmental theories should help counselors understand potential outlooks regarding the needs of individuals during the different stages of their lives.

Erikson believed that an individual’s interactions with others describe development. Erikson also believed that individual development takes place in a social context. He believed that development is a lifelong process and he indicated 8 stages. Movement from one stage to the next is conditioned on successful completion of each developmental stage. Also, healthy development results from facing life’s problems at each stage of development. Successful resolution of the various life difficulties, leads progressively to hope, trust, and autonomy. Counselors are concerned with how people think, because problem solving, decision-making and other interventions are governed by an individual’s thinking.

Jean Piaget’s theory focuses on how individuals think and how the thinking process is unique at different developmental stages. Piaget describes the thinking process of four developmental stages. Each of these stages is characterized by unique ways of thinking and therefore determines how adults interact with others. He believed that children actively learn by doing, using the environment to stimulate their thinking. Doing is a way of becoming. Because children learn best when they can manipulate, use hands-on activities, and make the abstract concrete, counselors may use the developing thinking of children throughout the elementary school years to plan appropriate guidance activities. Activities such as playing, drawing, using clay or making lists often result in children producing products that reveal their inner thinking. By engaging each other in different types of groups, children become less egocentric in their approach to understanding problems and in the generation of solutions. Adolescent thinking results in idealistic and utopian thinking in which the individual thinks all is open and available.

When approaching problems, the individual looks for solutions that are familiar. If a concrete thinker needs assistance to see other possibilities, a counselor may help by providing a hands-on, product-oriented approach to help the person conceptualize problems. The counselor needs to be aware of individual thinking levels. When working with children and adolescents, the counselor should facilitate the use of an appropriate activity or technique, which matches the thinking level of the individual. When working with adults, the counselor needs to address issues indicating the appropriate starting points in problem solving and decision-making. Piaget provides a model useful in determining the thinking level being utilized by an individual.

Piaget, who is considered a stage theorist, connected the child development with the environment. He promoted the idea that children set the learning agenda and direct their own growth around the environment around which they grow.

Piaget’s ideas help understand how people function in their environments.

Successful identification of the orientation used by the individual coming for counseling enables the counselor to see how the individual makes meaning of the world.

The counselor is able to build a relationship by using a variety of techniques based on the counselee’s cognitive-developmental orientation.

The basic belief of these theories still provides the basis for many hypotheses in counseling. Reviewing existing theories can help counselors better understand normal growth and development and gain insight into what individuals need to do to reach fulfillment in their lives. Developmental and psychodynamic theories continue to be basis in much contemporary thought and practice. The life-span development approach addresses the basic nature versus nurture debate by allowing for both. Just as our physicals selves are determined by both genetics and lifestyle, so are our emotional selves. Considering cognitive, biological, and social, and emotional development throughout life would offer perspective, a guideline, and reasonable expectations. Life-span development theories would also provide a useful place to start when offering emotional support to clients. Understanding an individual’s previous stages of development and environment can give a counselor and individual a common place from which to start counseling.

Most of the developmental theorists discussed in class, focused mostly on early or childhood development. Early development, when considered in a life-span context of development, can give the counselor important insights and clues about the counselee’s personality. The counselor can further evaluate early behaviors against his or her contemporary observations, giving them a fuller context. The life-span perspective can easily be linked to what could be considered a sub-category or a category that can be placed inside the life-span cycle. Family of origin and family of choice can be altered and influenced by environmental factors. Other aspects include social background, cultural norms, and even national identity. A counselor can guide a person to examining the correlation between environment and societal attitudes, and then the impact on his or her own development.

Providing a social support such as counseling from a life-span perspective must include physical context. Age is an obvious, but significant, biological concern. Erikson’s theory of development defines periods throughout our lives. Familiarity with each stage’s crisis is the foundation of counseling from a life-span development perspective. Focusing on one stage’s crisis is the foundation to specialization in a counseling practice. Helping an individual understand their current crisis may offer many reassurances, but specifically realizing that every stage of life has an optimal time. He or she will develop toward each new stage, building upon and learning from the previous stages. With a focus on a life-long growth process, a counselor can help an individual benefit from even the developmental tasks he or she feels were resolved unsuccessfully.

A life-span perspective in counseling should allow that we inherit more than physical traits from our biological parents. Life-span development is a multi-faceted approach to counseling. Using these and other theories gives a licensed professional counselor a variety of tools for counseling. I expect these theories to help me determine a specialty in my future practice, relying on the overlap and complexity of working in terms of an entire human life.

The function that the family structure provides is to procreate, both create and reduce jobs and to raise children and teach them how to become respectable members of society. Another example of an existing structure in our society is poverty. By maintaining a certain level of poverty, it is possible to keep inflation down, a function that helps the middle class, and reduce wages.

The structures of the family varies from society to society, the smallest family group is the nuclear family, and consists of a husband and wife, and the immature offspring , units larger than the nuclear family are known as extended families, and can be seen as extensions of the nuclear family. This can have vertical extensions, for example, older members of the family living in the same household. A grandmother or grandfather, and also can have horizontal extensions; an example of this would be a brother-in-law or sister-in-law of the spouses living in the same house. Functionalists felt that the nuclear family was most adapted to the functionalist theory, as it is insular and mobile therefore aiding society, by keeping up with economic movement, but in the process becoming detached from the extended family support. The social exchange theory is based entirely on a give and take relationship.

A successful relationship benefits both people involved. Marriage is not always necessarily the best thing in everyone’s situation. If a couple doesn’t want to be concerned with all the legal issues of being married, why not have the closest relationship possible to a marriage? The social exchange theory implies that both people involved are satisfied with the organization of their relationship. They maintained the relationship because of the benefits they both gain from it. The benefits improved their self interests in one another. And if that means that the couple doesn’t want to get married, then that is what would be the “successful” and “healthy” relationship according to the social exchange theory. I personally agree with this idea of cohabitation being as valid as marriage.

Not only good things come out of marriage, especially in today’s society. Things like divorce, death, and other problems are all things that can impact someone more than someone who isn’t married. Many couples choose to live together like a marriage, until they feel ready to be married. This is good because then almost nothing changes. They had already been living together, so they see each other ion everyday situations. According to the social exchange theory, it doesn’t matter if a couple shares the same last name, it is how grateful they are in the relationship is what really counts.


American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Text Revision (4th ed., rev. ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Asendorpf, J., & Scherer, K. (1983). The discrepant repressor: Differentiation between low anxiety, high anxiety, and repression of anxiety by autonomic-facial-verbal patterns of behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45(6), 1334-1346. Retrieved November 9, 2008, doi:10.1037/0022-3514.45.6.1334Burke, B. L., Arkowitz, H., & Menchoa, M. (2003). The efficacy of motivational interviewing: A meta analysis of controlled clinical trials. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71, 843-861. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.71.5.843Comer, R. J. (2007). Abnormal psychology. New York: Worth Publishers

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59