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Counselling Theories Essay

1.Explain the concept of nature versus nurture, using yourself as a case study to illustrate the theory.

The concept of nature versus nurture is that human behaviour is influenced by genetic information inherited from our parents and also by environmental and social influences. My appearance such as short sightedness and pigmentation (freckles) I inherited from my parents. This means like my father I must wear glasses to drive and many other aspects of my daily life. Being a woman this heightens my social awareness as how others perceive me. Society dictates ‘the body beautiful’. Magazines, Bill-boards, TV and newspapers constantly suggest the need to have a perfect complexion. This influences how I perceive myself and makes me feel I must wear makeup to cover up such blemishes to appear more acceptable and feel good about myself. Thus this influences my behaviour in everyday life as I feel my appearance determines my acceptance by others.

2.Identify one strength and one weakness of the nature versus nurture concept in relation to understanding human development and individual behaviour. One strength of the nature versus nurture concept in relation to understanding human development and individual behaviour is the ability to explain addiction to smoking, drinking and narcotics. Children see their family and friends behaviour as socially acceptable and so exhibit these behaviours with little question. This often leads to entrenched social behaviour. This suggests that our early experiences can affect our perspective later in adulthood.

One weakness of the nature versus nurture concept in relation to understanding human development and individual behaviour is that if someone’s behaviour is solely determined by their genes then to what extent are people in control of their lives. For instance people suffering from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) have the same set of genes but depending on their family, social or cultural upbringing may respond differently to the same situation.

3.Describe Freud’s concept of the ego, id and superego. Explain how the ego, id and superego interact. Use an example from your own experience.

Id: Describes the biological or instinctive response. This is our original personality we are born with and controls responses in the early stage of life.
Ego: In this second developmental stage, compromises in instinctive responses to environmental circumstances begin to develop. The ego mediates with the id by considering the rules of the real world and the consequences of actions taken in that world.
Superego: This is that part of our psyche that determines how we think we should react in a given situation. This is the development of morals, what is right and what is wrong. It is a further development of control over the id response. An example from my own experience is say when I see a piece of cake on display. My id tells me I want to eat the piece of cake, my ego says are you really that hungry. My superego rationalises the situation and asks if I eat the cake unnecessarily, a possible consequence is I will put on weight and so is this the right thing to do? 4.Identify one strength and one weakness of Freud’s concept of the ego, id and superego in relation to understanding human development and individual behaviour.

One advantage of Freud’s concept of the ego, id and superego in relation to understanding human development and individual behaviour is that it gives a good overall description of development of the human psyche. It recognises the development of personality and physical development stages. It demonstrates the interplay or lack of; between these different aspects of the psychological process and how different outcomes can occur as a consequence of this balance. One weakness of Sigmund Freud’s concept of the ego, id and superego in relation to understanding human development and individual behaviour is that not each may be equally well developed. This mix of psyche occurs at different rates for each individual. This can lead to social consequences where individuals will be treated differently causing a hindrance in the future development of the ego and superego.

5. Describe Jean Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development and provide an example from your own experience to illustrate the theory.

Sensorimotor (Birth 18 months): During this period the baby begins to recognise the world around them and so develops refined eye movement, depth vision, and later as they begin to explore further learn to crawl and then walk. They start to use simple language ‘mum’, ‘dad’ and other single word responses.  Preoperational (18 months to 6 years): Here the child increases their vocabulary and recognise some simple symbols and how to deal with certain basic situations. They can understand those near to them and begin to categorise the world around them. Concrete operational (6 to 12 years): At this point language skills increase but are still tied to the real world. The ability to reason increases in seeking to understand the world around them.

Formal operational (12 years and over): About this point the child begins to explore abstract or hypothetical situations. There is an attempt to organise thoughts and situations into a logical ordering. From my own experience while I cannot remember the first two stages but I have seen them in my children’s growing up. At the age of 12 my daughter started to explore cooking for herself at first making cakes and more complicated meals. She started to ask such questions regarding instructions on packet mixes before progressing to more complicated cooking such as a bacon, tomato and onion omelette. More recently she has started to explore more complex issues and why people do what they do.

6.Identify one strength and one weakness of Piaget’s stages of cognitive development in relation to understanding human development and individual behaviour.

Piaget’s stages of cognitive development demonstrate an important connection between physical development and personality stages. A criticism levelled at Piaget however was that he used his own children and others from a well educated and high socio-economic background. This selection is thus not fully representative of all society. Further children from different environment and cultural backgrounds may mature differently. Thus the age classification of the different stages may be much wider with some children developing at an earlier age and some later.

7.List Erikson’s eight psychosocial stages of development. Which stage do you see yourself in and why?
(1)Oral sensory (0 – 1 year)
(2)Muscular anal (2 – 3 years)
(3)Locomotor-genital (3 – 5 years)
(4)Latency (6 years – puberty)
(5)Adolescence (12 – 18 years)
(6)Early adulthood (18 – 35 years)
(7)Middle adulthood (35– 60 years)
(8)Mature adult (60+ years)
I’m at stage 7 according to Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development. I am 40 years old, I have a family, a career and have organized as much as is possible my future life which now includes further education.

8.Identify one strength and one weakness of Erikson’s stages of development in relation to understanding human development and individual behaviour.

A strength of Erikson’s stages of development in relation to understanding human development and individual behaviour is that it places greater stress in the nature versus nurture debate for the need for both concepts. Further this description is placed across an entire lifespan of a human being. A criticism, however, is that this theory describes the developmental process rather than explaining it.


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