As far as theories of development, the psychoanalytic theory says that development depends on the unconsciousness and emotions and goes through stages throughout age in life. Cognitive theorists, like Piaget, emphasize on the active building of understanding and a positive view of development. Behavioral and social cognitive theorists Skinner and Bandura focus on scientific research and on the environment. The ethological theory focuses on the biological and evolutionary aspects of development. The ecological theory focuses on the different systems within the environment. Finally, the eclectic theoretical orientation selects the best parts from each theory (Santrock, 2009).
I am a certified hypnotist and in practicing hypnosis on others and practicing self-hypnosis, I realize the big importance of our unconscious mind on most of our decisions, actions and behaviors. I am thankful to Freud and his successors for the learning on the subconscious. Working with autistic kids within the spectrum of autism, I realize the importance of positive reinforcements and logic. I also see the pitfall in some of his work. For instance, he considers a stage of development when a child realizes that if I move some liquid from one container to another, then that is the same amount of liquid. I have tried that experiment on an autistic first grader, and he answered that the amount is different, because some water is lost with the drops remaining against the periphery of the first container. The child was accurate and Piaget was inaccurate. As far as social cognitive theories, I have successfully experimented them with dogs, in terms of training them, socializing them, and considering their environmental breed traits that usually do not fail, such as in the case of aggressive breeds, physical problems with hips in certain breeds, getting along with people and other animals, and dominance and submissive issues. As far as the ethological and ecological theories, I see their implications in my own life. I have moved from one continent to another and experienced quite different systems within the environment, such as the social, political, legal, educational, economical systems. Often my Italian friends from back home in Italy, tell me I am too Americanized. Inevitably the environment has shaped my personality, lifestyle, thinking, and beliefs. To most Americans though, I will probably always be Italian, despite the fact I finally became an American citizen this year. My accent, despite all my efforts to get rid of it, is still present in all my communications and it has affected me in many ways, which are not always positive.
I believe some of these theories build upon one another, since some theorists that lived chronologically in history later than others, did benefit from the learning of previous theorists. To me, it is a bit like religious and political views. I can see the best in all of them and I can criticize some aspects of all of them. Some of the latest theories, such as the ecological one, could benefit from more research and cases of best practices. To conclude, I believe the best theory is the eclectic orientation. That is what I have been practicing in my private client practice. Each client and individual is unique and some particular theories, or a combination of theories, may better apply than others, to that individual, at a specific time in life.
Santrock, J. W. (2009) Life-span development 12th Edition Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
— Thank you.
Elena Pezzini, M.S., C.P.C.
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