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Social Dimensions of Human Behavior


Theory is to assessment as assessment is to treatment. The ability to apply theory to the complexities ... Psychotherapy with a developmentally disabled adult ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Social Dimensions of Human Behavior

Social Dimensions of Human Behavior
  • Lecture 1 Basic Constructs of Theory

Quotes on Theory
  • Theory is to assessment as assessment is to
  • The ability to apply theory to the complexities
    of human behavior and derive an appropriate
    intervention and treatment plan, distinguishes
    the advanced generalist and clinical practitioner
    from the informal helper.
  • Theory is what the competent practitioner basis
    his/her biopsychosocial hypothesis on prior to
    clinical and social diagnosis.

Course Disclaimer (Brooks, 1986)
  • If you are expected to be an expert on the
    biological, psychological, social, economic, and
    cultural dimensions of human behavioryou are
    undoubtedly an instructor of Human Behavior in
    the Social Environment.

Case Studies
  • A 45 year old, gay male is diagnosed with HIV
    shortly after finding out that his partner of 10
    years was having an extra relational affair. He
    presents with dysthymia and he begins to ask
    questions such as what is the meaning of life,
    why was I born, and what is the meaning of the
    time I have left?
  • A 29 year old women was raped following her 10
    hour shift at the bowling alley. Since the rape
    she presents with feelings of anxiety,
    depression, has stopped going to work, and has
    very little interest in maintaining her home or
    family relationships.

Case Studies Continued
  • A 29 year old man, who has a 15 year history of
    living with paranoid schizophrenia has recently
    experienced the re-emergence of positive
    symptoms. What theoretical framework is
    contraindicated? What theoretical framework is
    most supported by evidenced-based, social work
    practice with this population?

Purpose of this Course
  • To develop a broader understanding of the
    macro-systemic influences upon human behavior and
    how they interact with theory
  • To not only understand the basic concepts of
    theory,but to be able to apply various theories
    to human behavior from an advanced generalist and
    clinical perspective
  • Syllabus Review

The Role of Theory in Practice
  • Theory helps the social worker answer the
    questions of how and why a person behaves within
    the context environment they exist in
  • Context includes
  • Biological, physical, psychological,
    socio-cultural, spiritual, economic, political,
    and historical
  • Environment includes
  • Groups or structures that influence behavior

Functional or Dysfunctional
Language Defining Theory
  • Paradigms Models
  • Paradigms and models are utilized interchangeably
    and usually represent a visual arrangement of two
    or more variables in a graphic form
  • Example Freuds Model of of the Mind
    Conscious, Pre-Conscious, Subconscious
  • Perspectives
  • Emphasizes a particular viewpoint
  • Example The Feminist Perspective

Language Defining Theory II
  • Theory
  • Constructs/Concepts Fact Theory
  • Constructs/Concepts Abstract representations
    and logical descriptions (Qualitative
  • Facts Empirically verified/ testable
  • Theory Ordering facts in a meaningful way based
    upon hypothesis
  • Tested Hypothesis emerge into Theoretical

Social Constructivism
  • Problem with Theory
  • Constructs/concepts are often guided by
    moralistic, sociopolitical bias, and norms
    accepted by the social order
  • Historically Copernicus
  • Modern Issue Homosexuality is labeled either as
    pathology or normative depending on your
    moralistic/ theological worldview
  • Constructs lead us to the age old question ofis
  • A research driven agenda or agenda driven
  • Theory can never be considered purely objective
    due to its ideological basis
  • There really is no such thing as a value free
    social science

Evolution of Theory
  • A search for a strong theoretical orientation has
    been a theme throughout the history of social
    work practice
  • Most approaches evolved simultaneously, but
    certain themes emerge in the development of
    theoretical base

Evolution of Theory
  • Pre-Theory
  • Early attempts to conceptualize practice,
    formulate definitions, and classify interventions
  • Mary Richmonds, Social Diagnosis Gordon
    Hamiltons Theory and Practice of Social Case
  • Texts were mostly prescriptive axioms based on
    personal, practice experience and ideologies
  • Theory Building
  • Frank Bruno (1936) wrote his text, The Theory of
    Social Work
  • It is not really a book about social work theory
    per se, but describes the theories that s.w. drew
    upon during this time period
  • Argued strongly against a unified theory of
    social work practice

Evolution of Theory
  • Psychodynamic Alliances
  • Casework text were heavily based upon the ruling
    theory of the day psychodynamic theory
  • There was no attempt to differentiate social work
    from psychodynamic theory on apply it to social
    work practice
  • Ego Psychology and Dynamic Case Work (Parad, 1958)
  • Clinical Emergence
  • Practice theories and models began to develop
    based upon individual practitioner experiences
  • These conceptual frameworks, although not meeting
    the definition of theory, provided a framework
    for future theory
  • Created dichotomy in practice. You were either
    of this theoretical school or another

Evolution of Theory
  • Theory by Practice
  • Group versus case work theory began to emerge
  • Family practice and other specialties also begin
    to evolve
  • Provided theoretical foundation for the emergence
    of unifying theories
  • Theoretic Plurality (1960s)
  • Cognitive behavioral, feminist, and
    constructivist schools of theory begin to emerge
  • Eventually commonalities and unifying themes of
    theory are sought creating meta-theories
  • By 1970s emergency of systems theory, ecological
    frameworks emerged as practice standards
  • Current theory, responsible eclecticism

Theory and Practice
  • Thesis responsible, ethical practice needs to
    be built upon strong theory.
  • Principle 1
  • Theory is essential in predicting and explaining
  • What happens if I dont intervene?
  • What happens if I do and what is the best
    practice method? If asked, how do I know?

Theory Practice
  • Principle 2
  • Theory enables the social work to formulate a
    treatment plan based on assessment and diagnosis
  • It eliminates guesswork and impressionistic
    responses, that at times are a result of
    individual countertransference

Theory Practice
  • Principle 3
  • Theory allows the social worker to anticipate
    outcomes and speculate about unanticipated
    relationships between variables
  • It provides a construct for assessment
  • How do I know what I know about this behavior?

Cautions with Theory
  • Theory can be reductionistic and a tool for
    labeling and classifying
  • Theory can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If
    a expect neurosis, I see neurosis. It doesnt
    take into account alternative expectations
  • Theory as dogma(Group Think Phenomena)
  • Politicization of TheoryAgency manifestos of
    theory We begin to serve the theory rather then
    the client

Choosing a Best Practice Theory
  • Relevance to an ecological framework on the
    Micro, Mezzo, Macro levels of practice
  • Does the theory support social values and ethics
  • What is the theoretical framework based upon
  • Determinism Victims of circumstance lack of
  • Reductionism The most simple explanation is the
    absolute explanation
  • Ontological Issues What is the nature of man?
  • Epistemological Issues Positivism versus
  • Research Qualitative, Quantitative, Rigor of
  • Relevance to field of practice

Theory Practice Exercise
  • Using what you know of theorywhat is the best
    theory to use in each practice setting and why?
  • Case management with a developmentally disabled
  • Psychotherapy with a developmentally disabled
  • Case management with a client with mid-stage
    Alzheimers Disease
  • Supportive counseling for a client dying of
    cancer in early-stage Alzheimers Disease
  • Group therapy with an adult male group, all who
    have a history of child molestation?
  • A support group for children who have been
  • Remember, theory explains our methods and