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  1. Human Behavior and the Social Environment: Individuals and Families SWRK 506 Dr. Linda Farris Kurtz

  2. Definition of Theory • A series of relatively abstract and general statements that collectively purport to explain some aspect of the empirical world. • Explains • Predicts • Describes • Prescribes

  3. Examples: • School Phobia • Ecological explanation – environment not nurturing , not attractive, lacks support for child, lacks incentives, harbors disincentives; • Freudian explanation – child may be afraid her siblings will take mother away while she’s at school; • Behavioral – Staying home is rewarding; school is punishing in some way.

  4. Facts, Constructs, Ideologies • Fact is an observable truth, an empirical observation. Example, you passed the test. • Construct – An interpretation that is influenced by culture; an explanatory variable which is not directly observable, example: IQ • Ideology – a set of beliefs based on values rather than facts, world view; example: social Darwinism, communism, laissez-faire economics, and free trade

  5. Theoretical Framework • Points around which an analysis can be made. • Example: Ecological System Framework • Micro system - individual • Meso system – family and close friends • Exo system – local community • Macro system- country, nation, economic system

  6. Empowerment To be empowered, a person or group requires an environment that provides options and ascribes authority to the person to choose. Empowerment is affected by the subjective reality of the person. A person could have many options, but their perception of the options is much more limited. The strengths model is designed to increase each of these components: choices. authority, perception of choices, and ability to take action. Rapp, C.A.& Gocha, R. J.. (1999). The Strengths Model: A recovery-oriented approach to mental health services. New York: Oxford University Press.

  7. The Strengths Model The strengths model is about providing a new perception. It allows us to see possibilities rather than problems, options rather than constraints, wellness rather than sickness. “As long as we stay in the muck and mire of deficits, we cannot achieve” (p. 33). Rapp, C.A.& Gocha, R. J.. (1999). The Strengths Model: A recovery-oriented approach to mental health services. New York: Oxford University Press.

  8. The Ecological Perspective Problems are located in the stresses created by the interactions between individuals and/or families and groups, organizations, and institutions that make up the environment.

  9. Uri Bronfenbrenner, Ph.D. Cornell University A Founder of Head Start & Eco Systems Theory

  10. In social work practice, applying an ecological approach can be best understood as looking at persons, families, cultures, communities, and policies and to identify and intervene upon strengths and weaknesses in the transactional processes between these systems.      Holistic thinking can provide a paradigm for understanding how systems and their interactions can maintain an individual's behavior.

  11. Microsystem- The most basic system, referring to an individual's most immediate environment (i.e., the effects of personality characteristics on other family members) Mesosystem-A more generalized system referring to the interactional processes between multiple microsystems (i. e., effects of spousal relationships on parent-child interactions). Exosystem-  Settings on a more generalized level which affect indirectly, family interactions on the micro and meso levels (i. e., the effects of parent's employment on family interactions). Macrosystem- The most generalized forces, affecting individuals and family functioning (i.e., political, cultural, economical, social).

  12. Basic Assumptions of Ecological Perspective • 1.Person/environment is the unit of analysis – We most nearly understand a human situation to the extent that we know what relevant people bring to and receive from specific situations in given periods of time. • 2.General tendency toward adaptation – Continuous processes people use to sustain the level of fit between themselves and their environment. Goal is adaptednessand goodness of fit. • 3.Factors impede adaptation- Ex: Detroit bankruptcy

  13. Basic Assumptions Cont’d • 4. The flow of events may be potentially harmful or helpful. Stress Response Problem solving and regulating negative feelings Coping and defending against stress • 5. The transacting configuration – consider all the relevant systems and subsystems that play a part in the mutual adaptation. The includes subsystems of the person and of the environment.

  14. Basic Concepts • Structural considerations – family members and their relationships: father – mother – son – daughter • Developmental considerations – family evolves over a period of time and adds structures, such as the school • Functioning considerations – significant patterns of interaction

  15. Set 1. Person:Environment Fit • Goodness of fit – favorable or unfavorable • Woman, age 80, moves to her children’s location, and into a senior living apartment, after selling her home in another state. • Adaptedness and adaptation – actions that contribute to goodness of fit • Teen with physical disabilities and high intelligence is enrolled in a private school where athletics are not emphasized and college preparation is. • Maladaptation: a situation that requires investigation and intervention to improve the P:E fit • Homeless family moves into the home of elderly parents, can’t pay rent, and don’t help parents with household tasks.

  16. Set 3. Functioning under Stress and Challenge • Life Events • Stressors – event that causes problems • Stress – response to stressors • Coping and Defending – effective? Not effective? • Risk factors, protective and promotive factors? Smoking or drinking alcohol for example; • Protective factors – education, access to help • Promotive factors – access to funds • Challenges, can be stressors or

  17. Environment Perspective • Physical environment – attractiveness, serenity, sidewalks for exercise, parks, local stores and restaurants, highways, transportation, accessible work places • Social environment – groups, formal organizations, libraries, schools, support groups, churches, recreation, handicap access • Culture – values and norms

  18. Ecological Assessment Framework • Person:environment goodness of fit. • Is there adaptation or maladaptation? • What external or internal stressors exist? • Developmental factors – age related tasks • Risk Factors – disability, drinking alcohol, smoking • Challenges – positive and growth enhancing • Environmental factors – Assess them

  19. Writing Sample • Start with the theory: I am applying the Ecological Perspective to my individual because it addresses the fit between the person and environment and examines the way that the person has adapted to a stressful life event (Germain & Bloom, 1999). • Go to case: Mr B’s environment is no longer suitable for his needs. He has been unable to adapt to living alone after his wife’s death. • Give an example: For example, Mr. B needs assistance in taking care of daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and preparing food.

  20. Eco - Map Joe’s Family Parents and children AA Job as a house Painter Joe Blow 7 day Treatment Center Drinking Buddies In County Jail for DUI Al-Anon

  21. Eco-Map

  22. Behavioral Theory Began in 1913 – John Watson – Father of Behaviorism. Discovered Classical Conditioning. The Little Albert experiment. Conditioned a baby to be afraid of rats. Ex: Pavlov’s dog

  23. Classical Conditioning When a neutral stimulus is repeatedly paired with another stimulus which normally elicits a particular response, the neutral stimulus itself will begin to elicit a similar response; this response becomes learned or conditioned.

  24. Respondent Conditioning Respondent behaviors: salivating anxiety Concept of pairing Neutral stimulus – elicits no response Unconditioned stimulus – elicits an unlearned response unlearned response – innate Conditioned response – new learned response Conditioned stimulus – by pairing with a stimulus elicits a conditioned response

  25. Counter Conditioning Pair the learned fear response with a counter conditioned response – White rat (fear) paired with quiet music (relaxation response) Example of systematic desensitization: Consumer comes with phobia of going outside Teach relaxation Have her imagine going outside while relaxed Going outside will lose its anxiety-producing power.

  26. Operant Conditioning 1.Positive reinforcers shape behavior to continue in their presence – dog waits, gets treat – behavior is strengthened/increased 2. Withdrawing a positive reinforcer equals punishment – no treat, dog runs off 3.Aversive stimulus following a behavior is punishment. 4. Withdrawing an aversive stimulus is negative reinforcement

  27. Framework for AssessmentUsing Operant Conditioning Approach • Inventory problematic behaviors; • Identify reinforcements for the problem behavior; • Identify desired replacement behavior or changes required in behavior; • Identify likely reinforcements for desired behavior (include rewards, punishments, removal of reinforcers)

  28. Cognitive Theory Feelings and behaviors of people are determined by the way they structure their world. Principles: • Emotions are the result of the way people think, assume or believe about themselves; • Misconceptions, irrational thinking, and erroneous beliefs are outside a person’s conscious awareness; • Some thoughts are the result of organic, chemical or neurological problems; • Unpleasant emotions are not always dysfunctional and pleasant emotions are not always functional.

  29. Cognitive Behavioral Theory Albert Bandura (1980s). The cognitive deals with thinking; the behavior deals with doing something. Used to be called social learning theory. Requisites for learning: Attention – be aware Retention – rehearsal Production – converting stored memory into action Motivation – incentives to behave in a new way

  30. Key Concepts in Cognitive Behavioral Theory • Modeling • Identification • Vicarious Learning – by example • Self Efficacy – believing you are able • Self reinforcement

  31. Cognitive Schemata and Cognitive Distortions Schemata originate in childhood experience and are generalizations stored in memory. An example: an expectation that one’s desire for emotional support will not be met –emotional deprivation schemata. Cognitive distortions – automatic thoughts consisting of mistakes in thinking. Example: All or nothing thinking – if I’m not a total success, I’m a failure.

  32. Three New Approaches to Social Learning Theory • Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy- person is taught to disengage from emotional-related modes of mind by responding differently to a negative emotion. Recovery International methods, for example. • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – Combines validation with problem solving • Acceptance and commitment therapy – instead of controlling thoughts and feelings, client is taught to notice and embrace them. Accept – Choose – Take action

  33. Framework for Cognitive Behavioral Assessment • Identify the behavior and thinking changes needed by the individual; • Assess the person’s cognitive processes; • Assess self efficacy; • Identify cognitive schema and cognitive distortions experienced; • Assess for available role models and other learning opportunities.

  34. Example: Cognitive-Behavioral Assessment • Thinking change needed: Jane Doe dwells on the past and all the mistakes she has made. These include… • Cognitive processes: Jane has normal intelligence and memory functions. • Self-Efficacy – Jane feels unsure of herself and her ability to do well in any endeavor. Does not know how to cope with her depression. • Cognitive schema – Jane feels a pervasive sense of shame over her past mistakes and inability to measure up. • Distortions – Disqualifies and discounts positive achievements in her past. • Jane’s friends and relatives are high achievers; she has no role models among those who may have made similar mistakes in the past.

  35. Psychodynamic Theory Originated by Sigmund Freud, this theory maintains that: • early childhood experiences form personality, • that there exists a powerful unconscious, • that personality is influenced by the id, ego and superego, and • that defense mechanisms protect us from anxiety.

  36. Ego Psychology Branch of Psychodynamic Theory This theory, originating with Anna Freud, comes under the general category of psychodynamic theory and concerns intra-psychic functioning. The ego is the part of the intra-psychic structure that helps one adapt, meet needs, master tasks, and mediate the unconscious and conscious structures. Important also are the ego defense mechanisms

  37. Ego Psychology – Major Concepts • People have an innate capacity to adapt, which develops over time through learning and psychosocial maturation • Social influences on psychological functioning are significant, transmitted through the family • Mastery and competence are important motivators • Problems in social functioning can occur at any stage of development due to person-environment and internal conflicts. From Walsh, J. (2006). Theories for direct social work practice.

  38. Ego Defense Mechanisms Defenses protect the conscious ego from anxiety that may be painful or overwhelming. The defense converts an unacceptable action to something acceptable. Example: Projection – my anger is unacceptable – “I don’t get angry.” When anger arises between me and someone else, I see it as their anger not mine.

  39. Autonomous Functions of the Ego • Reality Testing (awareness of time, place, person • Understanding of cause and effect relationships • Using good judgment in achieving goals • Control of drives, emotions, and impulses • Attention • Memory • Adaptation • Coping • Able to manage relationships and relate appropriately • Having a sense of self

  40. Framework for Assessing Ego Strength • Shows ability to cope with stress – ask about stressful situations and how they coped. • Shows good reality testing – what is going on around you. • Shows good judgment in situations – learn from taking social history. • Thinks logically – assess from conversation. • Able to attend, learn, and concentrate – get educational history. • Maintains mature interpersonal relationships – gets along with family, friends, co-workers.

  41. Example: Ego psychology Assessment Coping ability: Mr. X. comes to the agency complaining of not being able to sleep, eat, or concentrate at work. Reality testing: Mr X thinks his ex-wife is out to get him by sending people to spy on him at work and trying to get him in trouble. Judgment: Mr. X has complained about this to his employer who now is concerned about whether Mr X can do his job. Logical thinking:Mr X recognizes that the story he’s telling makes no sense, but it still preys on his mind. Attention and concentration: Up until recently, Mr X showed normal ability to attend, concentrate and learn having earned a master’s degree in a complex subject. Interpersonal Relationships: Mr. X has good relationships with family members and co-workers, but has few friends.

  42. Object Relations Theory: A Sub-theory of Ego Psychology • Major Concepts • Attachment is the main focus • Relationships – fears of engulfment or abandonment • Process of Introjection • introjects parts of others • Whole objects – introjects the whole person • Self Object – conception of the self • True Self – realistic conception of self • False Self – suppresses personal needs – attempt to please • Object constancy – when object is not present, it’s still there

  43. Donald Winnicott 1896 - 1971 Winnicott– 1950 – 1971much of his work was published after his death Concepts • Facilitative environment – adapts to needs of infant • Good enough mothering – holding, handling, withdrawing gradually from child • Transitional object – Gives sense of mother • Stages of dependence – independence • Ego relatedness – capacity to be alone

  44. Margaret Mahler - 1975The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant • Separation and individuation • Clear stages of separation and individuation • Birth-3 months: Autism, no difference between self and outside world • 1- 5 mo: symbiosis – other exists to meet needs • 5 – 8 mo: Differentiation – awareness of difference from other • 8-16 mo: Practicing – brief periods of separation • 16-24 mo: Rapprochement – child can exist but can call for help • 24-36 mos: Object Constancy - • Object constancy final stage of separation

  45. Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorders • Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition in which a person has long-term patterns of unstable relationships and turbulent emotions. • Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which people have an excessive sense of self-importance, an extreme preoccupation with themselves, and lack of empathy for others.

  46. Projective Identification and Splitting • Projective Identification – individual projects unconscious parts of self (angry feeling) or others onto the other person (spouse; partner) • Splitting – others are seen as either all good or all bad. Student gets low score on test – instructor is horrible; gets a high score – instructor is wonderful.

  47. Assessment Framework –Object Relations • Does the individual maintain positive relationships with significant others? • Does the individual have hostile interactions with significant others as he or she did with people in the past? • Does the individual establish relationships today that repeat early experiences with parents? • Do the individuals problem behaviors represent efforts to master old traumas? • To what degree are the client’s behaviors accurate renditions of what occurred in childhood? Are memories distorted?

  48. Role Play Exercise • Choose either ego psychology or object relations assessment frameworks. • Appoint one member of your group to be the individual being assessed • Pick out some of the problem behaviors/symptoms for the “client” part to portray. • Appoint one person to be the social worker. Help her to come up with questions for the role play.

  49. Physical and Biological Stages of Life • Birth – 2: Rapid growth muscles & brain • 2 – 6: language; permanent teeth • 7 – 11: differences in gender development • 12 -15: pubescence, sex organs develop • 16 - 18: Sex organs mature, growth slows • 18 – 35: Reach adult size; high point in vigor • 35 – 60: Midlife, declines begin, menopause • 60 – 70: skin wrinkles, sensory loss, lower endurance; stiff joints, decreased muscle tone • 70 – death: rapid deterioration, loss of motor skills