Developmental Psychology and Personal Development

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The work of Urie Bronfenbrenner is called an ecological theory of development a framework to examine the various interactions between the developing child from parental relationships to the environment, social settings, cultural influences and economic factors. There are four levels of environmental influences the micro-, meso-, exo- and macrosystems, each nested within one another representing degrees of intimate interactions. Change and constancy are mediated by the passage of time, the chronosystem. Using his approach it is possible to dissect and analyze the various environmental influences, not only on an individual's personal development, but also on the individual's major decisions in life. In this paper, Brofenbrenner's theory will be used to analyze the life of Tracy Foy: her personal development, and her recent decision to enter graduate school in pursuit of a master's degree in mental health therapy.

The late Urie Bronfenbrenner was one of the most influential developmental social scientists in the last century. He had an important role in the design of the Head Start program and from the 1970’s until his death a few years ago; he developed the most comprehensive theoretical framework for understanding human development within the broader context of the social environment. Bronfenbrenner’s “bioecological systems” theory combines sociology and developmental psychology, with individuals and environments shaping each other. Children develop within several interlocking systems: The first level of environmental influence on human development is called the microsystem. The microsystem consists of people who directly interact with the individual: immediate family members, schoolteachers and peers; as well as the everyday settings in which the individual is immersed: home, school, church, and neighborhood environments. (Bronfenbrenner, 1993) As a child, Tracy Foy's family was devastated by the loss of their father. This caused the older siblings to take on a more adult role, as the mother was forced into becoming the sole provider for the family. Tracy, being the youngest did not understand the immediate effects. She just saw it as her mother never around. As a result, those factors had a major impact on Tracy's development; the passing of her father also served to bring them together as a tight-knit group and consequently, less open to outside influence.

Tracy's relationship with her mother was of special importance in her personal development. Being her mother's youngest daughter Tracy formed an extremely intimate relationship with her. Furthermore, Tracy's mother was always very open and honest with Tracy about her personal development but did lack in the amount of time she was able to spend with her. However, the impact of Tracy’s mother was significant because the love and compassion she had for her family did come through, in even her absence. Dr. Linda Mintle, who has a PhD in Clinical Psychology, is a licensed clinical social worker and the author of A Daughters Journey Home, maintains that: "The mother-daughter relationship is the perfect arena to develop and practice relationship building skills that form and shape every other relationship in a woman's life because the mother-daughter bond is such a close one…The more you learn to make peace and find a meaningful connection with your mom, the richer other relationships will be." (Christian Broadcasting Network 2008)

The intimacy established in Tracy's relationship with her mother set the tone for intimacy in all of her subsequent relationships; she enabled Tracy to work hard in school, and helped to show her that being independent is a significant part of growing up. And to be honest about her life experiences with everyone she meets. Tracy's ability to be so open and honest with complete strangers is one reason why she has decided to pursue a career in counseling. That microsystem therefore, had an enormous impact on both Tracy's...
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