Humans have the power to evolve and change throughout their lifespan. We have the ability to adapt to the new status quo and transform our lives and behavior. I believe that counseling is based on the principle of the human capability to change.

Counselors such as myself can promote mental and emotional health and well-being through analyzing the roots of our clients’ behaviors and actions while assisting them to make the necessary changes in order to achieve their goals.

Freud explained through his psychoanalytic theory that human babies go through vigorous processes in order to evolve and develop their adult personalities and cognitive abilities. He emphasized the important role of psychosexual energy in shaping the human personality. However, Freud did not perceive individuals evolving beyond early adulthood. In my opinion Freud was a pioneer in analyzing and explaining human psychological development, although his work is criticized for not taking into consideration cultural differences and gender inequality. Moreover, his findings have not been successfully replicated by research.

On the other hand, Erikson (1950/1963) concentrated on explaining the psychosocial aspects of behavior such as attitudes and feelings towards self and others. Erikson’s most significant contribution to psychotherapy was his conceptualization of human development continuing throughout the lifespan. He believed that people could change in the right social context and move in the right direction (Broderick and Blewitt, 2015). Erikson believed that cultural factors could influence human development and was one of the first therapists to draw attention to the cultural differences in behavioral development.

Erikson’s theory has shaped my perception of human nature and the ability to change when certain behaviors or thought patterns appear to be dysfunctional and are the source of emotional pain and malfunction. Erikson’s theory of perpetual emotional and cognitive human evolution has molded my work with my clients and has been the foundation of my theoretical approach. I encourage and guide clients of all ages to transform their thoughts and behaviors in order to realize their life goals on an emotional and practical level.

I have worked with women who were emotionally dependent on their abusive partners and have helped them transform their “broken” selves, gain confidence and leave them. Abused women need to overcome their fears of failing to live independently, of being chased or stalked by the abusive partner or brutally abused both mentally and physically in retaliation for some perceived slight. Abused women often have to reinvent their lives and their personalities before they can free themselves from their barbaric partners. Likewise, my clients who suffer from depression and anxiety disorder have identified the roots of their issues, realized the impact of their early experiences on their psyche, have processed their anxious thoughts/emotions, and have resolved their internal conflicts.

My recent studies on nutrition have gifted me with a more holistic perspective on the complexity of the human development and behavior. Physical/molecular as well as biological factors can determine human behavior from cognition to personality and mental disorders. People are born with genetic predispositions to develop certain physiological and emotional disorders that could alter their psychosocial and emotional development; along with cultural and social factors. Multidimensional and systems theories explain the complexity of interrelated causal processes in development in a similar fashion; what happens on one level both causes and is caused by what happens at other levels (Broderick and Blewitt, 2015). According to multidimensional and systems theories a child being born in a particular family will not only be influenced and shaped by the family dynamics but will also shape the other members of the family through their interaction. As well as that, the genes the child is carrying as well as any disabilities or mental/emotional impairment or advancement resulting from the child’s gene pool, will determine the child’s psychosocial and emotional development as well as affect the nuclear family (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998). Attention needs to be drawn to the perpetual interaction between the child’s genetic processes, the child’s interaction with his microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem and macrosystem (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998).

To sum up, human development is a complex and multilayered process that needs to be carefully examined and analyzed before offering treatment to clients. Clients would benefit from a holistic approach that encompasses physical/molecular, biological, psychological, social and cultural factors.

References

Broderick, P., C. & Blewitt, P. (2015). The life span: Human development for helping professionals. New Jersey: Pearson.