Reflecting On What I Have Learned In This Class Sw 550

The life of an individual is affected by various factors that include biological, psychological and social factors resulting in behavioral diversification in the society. Hence, in order to understand an individual’s behavior, each person needs to be studied using a holistic approach that gives an account of all the factors affecting their lives. In the social sciences field, various theories have been developed with an aim to provide a better understanding of the complex human behavior. These theories seek to explain the reason why an individual behaves or reacts to a situation as they do. In this class, I have gained knowledge on various theories developed by different people that will be of immense use in my life, and in my practice as a social worker. I have also gained knowledge on different approaches I can use, as a social worker to better understand an individual’s background. One is the use of a genogram, which gives the family’s background thus helping in the diagnosis of the cause of an irregularity in an individual’s behavior.

How these theories help in making sense of one’s own life

Theories that explain human behavior and lessons on this topic have offered insight into my own life and behavior, as it has become clear why I act towards situations as I do. Theories explain our emotional and psychological reactions towards events as they offer insight on our natural needs and the importance of their fulfillment (Teater, 2010). They also offer information on the developmental stages we pass through hence, enabling us to understand these phases resulting in our changing personalities and varying actions with age. Thus, with a better understanding of that, I am able to be in control of my actions as I have an understanding of what drives me into acting as I do. Through the knowledge I have acquired about theories, I am able to understand other people’s reactions as well which is important in avoiding conflict and enables me to offer assistance when it is necessary.

Where do you position yourself in relation to particular theories, i.e. is it useful in explaining your personal experience? Not useful? Does it make sense to you, etc.

Theories applicable in social science are numerous, and they seek to explain why people behave in the manner they do. They set goals for the human race, hence offering guidelines on social actions resulting in the achievement of set goals (Teater, 2010). Human beings react differently to situations, and this difference can be explained by these theories. One such theory is Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical theory that helps us in understanding how the unconscious mind influences the conscious mind. According to Sigmund Freud, our unconscious thoughts play a role in our actions. For example, when in a new relationship, one partner may accidentally call his partner by his ex-partner’s name.

In such a scenario, Sigmund explains that the cause for such an occurrence is underlying unconscious feelings and thoughts towards the ex-partner by the person who makes such an error. The person may not be conscious of such feelings or may be in denial of them. This theory is applicable in my life since some occurrences that may be unexplainable. There may be times in which I may not be able to explain my actions towards a situation. However, with the aid of Sigmund’s theory, it becomes clear that past experiences that are ingrained in my memory may result in future actions that I may not be able to relate to my current situation.

Another theory learned in this class that may be of influence in my life is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is a theory that explains human developmental psychology. This theory by Abraham Maslow explains the various stages undertaken in human growth. He identifies five distinctions of physiological needs, safety needs, the need to belong, esteem needs and self- actualization needs (Teater, 2010). In order for proper growth to occur, all the needs must be met in the order identified. An individual fails to feel complete if one stage is skipped and some of the needs fail to be met. Understanding of this theory is practical in my life as I am able to realize the needs I must fulfill in order to feel complete as an individual. They guide my actions in my quest to fulfill my innate needs. Hence, I am able to streamline my efforts towards achieving the basic needs first before proceeding to needs higher up the hierarchy.

The developmental stages theory by Erik Erikson also plays a fundamental role in identifying the key components of human behavior and the reason that human behavior is different at various stages (Walsh, 2010). This theory shows an interaction between a person’s mind, body and the cultural experiences they go through in their lifetime. Unlike Daniel Levinson, who only focuses on an individual’s behavior in their adult years, Erikson focuses on human behavior throughout their life from infancy to adulthood. I find this theory to be educative and quite related to my life as by understanding at which stage in my life I am, I am able to comprehend the emotions I go through and take control of them. This theory depicts a pattern followed by human behavior that changes with growth and increase in age. Thus, I am able to deal with each individual in accordance to his or her age and his or her comprehensive ability. Thus, these theories taught in this unit are quite relevant in my life and have high practicability.

How might you use these theories in your practice? How could selected theories help you understand your clients?

Social sciences require high involvement with the people that one is dealing with thus it is vital to have an understanding of the various temperamental and behavioral differences of people (Teater, 2010). This may be due to differences in their upbringing, their cultures and other factors that may influence their thinking such as religion. As much as theories are not fully comprehensive, with some focusing only on a part of an individual’s life; for example, Daniel Levinson’s theory, theories do offer a platform to gauge human behavior. My understanding of Erik Erikson’s theory will be of much use in my profession as a social worker as I will be able to deal differently with children, adolescents and adults at different growth stages. This will enable me to view a situation from each individual’s point of view and offer guidance in a manner most comprehensive and practicable to the situation at hand.

Abraham Maslow hierarchy of needs theory is also a theory that will offer great guidance in my practice as a social worker. By understanding how needs are ranked, I will be able to identify the cause of dissatisfaction in an individual that can be traced from failure to satisfy needs lower in the hierarchy. With this guideline, I will be in a position to offer practical guidance to my clients, thus solving the problem from the cause. The psychoanalytical theory by Sigmund Freud will also be of considerable aid in solving cases where the patient has no knowledge of the reason they do some things or react differently to events than how others do (Walsh, 2010). By tracing back a sub-conscious thought or action to past events, I will be able to help the patient overcome the experience thus be able to move on and handle future events in a different manner.


The class has offered great insight in the practice of social work. By teaching theories employed in the practice of social work, we have been empowered to solve behavioral problem that face people in life. Other tools such as genograms are also quite helpful in understanding family behavior, which may be helpful in tracing a problem stemming from the family tree. It may help solve genetic and cultural problems that are specific to an individual’s family.


Teater, B. An introduction to applying social work theories and methods

            Maidenhead, England: McGraw Hill/Open University Press. 2010.

Walsh, J. Theories for direct social work practice. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage

            Learning. 2010.

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