Needs are not separate entities but very much interrelate to each other. “They do not function independently but maintain a complex and inseparable relationship to each other.” (E.Bingham et al, 2009, pg.77) When assessing John’s needs holistically it becomes apparent that in order to meet his social needs successfully first his emotional and physical needs must be met. John’s alcohol/drug misuse must be addressed and managed to have a positive impact in reducing his depression and anxiety before his need for social interaction and building meaningful and lasting relationships is likely to succeed.
The Psychodynamic perspective pioneered by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) focusses on how our personality is formed, stages it undergoes, and how it functions on a daily basis. The psychodynamic approach claims we have three levels of thinking, conscious, pre-conscious, and unconscious, often symbolised as an iceberg Erik Erikson regognised Freud’s work and whilst he agreed most of our personality is formed by adolescence he did not agree with Freud’s psychosexual perspective and instead developed the lifespan identified earlier to include social factors such as the influence of peers and work groups, thus forming a psychosocial perspective. Erikson believed that the main mission in life was for identity. This theory is referred to as Erikson’s Eight Stages. At each stage a crisis is presented and depending on the outcome being positive or negative the person develops a ‘virtue’ such as Hope and Purpose. A culmination of positive outcomes then results in the individual becoming competent in all areas of life.
Erikson’s theory suggests that if a stage is resolved with a negative outcome then this will hamper successful resolution of subsequent stages and will lead to psychological difficulties in later on. Erikson’s fourth stage is industry versus inferiority and poses the question “How can I be good?” with the basic virtue of competence. During this stage between age of six and eleven children develop self-belief in their abilities and require encouragement and positive reinforcement to thrive. John’s low self-confidence and lack of belief in his own abilities could be attributed to lack of this encouragement. John says his parents always compared him unfavourably to his siblings whom they considered more successful at school.
John was expelled from mainstream school and continued with his education in residential school, fell into a bad crowd and developed unhealthy behaviours such as drug taking. John says “ I remember my father telling me ”You’re really dumb. Why can’t you do anything right?” . Negative attitudes by his parents and would also explain john’s self-confessed inferiority complex Strengths of this perspective are, understanding that an individual’s behaviour may be influenced by past experiences, and consistent with the social care value base that throughout life, challenges must be responded to in order to promote service users independence. Weaknesses are that theory cannot be tested scientifically and some of the ideas are outdated.
The Humanistic perspective pioneered by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers comes from a more holistic approach, taking into account how we think, feel and act not just about behaviour and past childhood experiences. Considering the person themselves to be the expert in their own life. Humanist theorists believe everyone has an ‘Actualising tendency’ meaning everyone has a basic human instinct to fulfil their potential. Whether conditions are right or wrong and our physical and psychological wellbeing heavily influences whether we achieve this or not. Rogers suggests that in order to achieve psychological health we need to develop a positive self-concept. Self-concept consists of three elements: self-image, refers to how we see our self, self-esteem refers to the value we place on our self and ideal-self refers to the way we’d like to be.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory based on human motivation to meet our needs with the emphasis on self-actualisation. Often represented by a pyramid divided into eight levels, the four lower relating to deficiency needs and the higher four relating to growth needs. In order to meet the higher needs lower needs must be satisfied. Stage four of Maslow’s pyramid is ‘Esteem needs’ including self-esteem and self-confidence. Stage three is ‘Love and Belongingness ’loving and being loved, being part of groups, acceptance, affection and trust.
These stages seem apt to John’s position and needs at present due to his lack of self-confidence and also his difficulty making and maintaining friendships and his fear of socialising with women, suggesting John has not completed stage two adequately ‘Psychological and physical safety’. Strengths of this theory are the approach is holistic, and not a lot of training required to utilise. Weaknesses include Roger’s theory being more apt to counselling and self-actualisation subjective to individual.
Having knowledge and understanding of psychological perspectives allows me to understand John’s needs, and current behaviours and how they may be related to past events and needs unmet. Identifying these needs and striving to find ways for John to meet these is made clearer. It also allows me to analyse my own attitudes, behaviours and beliefs in order to better myself, adapting my practice to align with client’s needs. If I was supporting John I would be encouraging him to speak to his G.P regarding his depression and high levels of anxiety. Urge him to be honest with his G.P about his alcohol consumption and recreational drug use too as this will be having a major depressive effect , although he feels this form of self-medication is alleviating his symptoms it is counter-productive.
John appears to have a good self-awareness, particularly since doing psychology course so I would suggest he analyse and recognise his strengths and achievements i.e. he has a good job, has the drive to improve life, has already enrolled on night class and has a good understanding of what changes he needs to make to be happy, as at present he appears to be focusing on his weaknesses. Keeping a diary of negative thoughts and challenging these for evidence may prove effective. I would suggest he research the possibility of voluntary work, perhaps utilising the skills he already has on a mentoring program e.g. helping other youngsters learn building skills or a D.I.Y project with housing project. Until he feels more self-confident and gains self-esteem I would advise he limits contact with negative people in his life.
John makes it clear that he would like to gain friends and perhaps this could be achieved through voluntary work suggested or taking up a new hobby. John also suggests that he would like to meet women but his social anxiety is too high to be productive and his previous relationship has left him feeling unworthy. Perhaps John could consider online dating or one of the dating sites social events, this way he can reduce anxiety by getting to know someone a little before meeting and everyone is in same situation at social event. . Due to John’s trust issues I would be consistent, reliable and show unconditional positive regard. Patient at all times and understanding. Change can be difficult and not normally a quick fix but incredibly rewarding to be a part of.
BINGHAM, E et al (2009). HNC IN SOCIAL CARE. ESSEX:HEINEMAN
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