Psychological Theories

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Psychological Theories: Lifespan vs. Social Learning Theory

A Case Study

HNC Social Care

13th August 2011

Total Words = 814

During this case study we will be utilising two theories to understand the behaviours of an individual named Alistair. Alistair is 17 years old and originates from Ayrshire. He arrived at Stepdown on 01/06/2011 after it was decided that he no longer met the criteria to be held in secure accommodation, however still required supervision. Alistair is held under Section 70 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, where the “child is likely to injure himself or some other person unless he is kept in such accommodation” (Children (Scotland) Act 1995). Alistair’s self harming behaviour escalates when he feels under pressure on when in a new environment. He has been known to the Social Work Department since a young age and has been in a residential care setting since 2006. He has contact with his mother, grandfather and his social worker. He has a good relationship with his grandfather, however the relationship with his mother can be strained. He had a childhood filled with turmoil where he was exposed to violence towards his mother on a regular basis.

The two theories we will be using to help understand Alistair’s behaviours are Erikson’s Lifespan Theory and Bandura’s Social Learning Theory.

The Lifespan Theory is based on the psychodynamic approach to psychology and believes that a person’s development occurs over their entire lifespan. Erikson developed his theory which split the lifespan into eight keys areas where different types of development occurs. The first six stages occur from birth to early 20’s. Alistair uses self harm to gain some control over his life and circumstances. According to Erikson, this is due to the influences he experienced during Later Infancy. This is the time when we develop a sense of control over our behaviours and actions. Alistair never had a relationship with his



Bibliography: Bandura, A. & Walters, R. (1963). Social Learning and Personality Development. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston Miller, J. (2006). Care in Practice for Higher Still. London: Hodder and Stoughton Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. (1995). Children(Scotland) Act 1995

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