Theories in Psychotherapy Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Psychosocial Development Theory

In the history of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud was the first to delve into the unknown recesses of the human mind to identify reasons for neuroses. As such, he identified infantile sexuality to lie at the heart of most problems in the relationship with the self and others and used the three-dimensional model of the id, the ego, and superego to describe the various ways in which these neuroses manifested themselves. Today, many theorists use Freud's theories to build their own derivative theories. Even though many today reject some or most of the early philosopher's ideas, it is thanks to him that these theories have a reason for existence in themselves. Today, the theory known as psychosocial development bases many of its concepts on the early ideas conceptualized by Freud. As such, theorists like Erik Erikson, Alfred Adler, and Karen Horney have developed their own concepts of what it means to develop as a human being from childhood to adulthood today. Their major departure from Freud's theory rests on the fact that the social environment plays a significant role in human development.

Like Freud, Erikson's theory is based upon the belief that childhood plays a vital role in the development of the personality (Davis and Clifton, n.d.). While accepting Freud's ideas on the id, ego, and superego, along with the idea of infantile sexuality, Erikson's theory incorporates two major departures from the early philosopher. Erikson believes that the personality cannot be described solely on the basis of sexuality and that the personality continues to develop after the individual has reached five years of age.

The stages of Erikson's personality development theory unfolds according to an individual's upbringing and culture, along with the innate traits with which a person is born. The stages of development include the following:

Stage 1 is the development of basic trust vs. mistrust. This development is largely based upon the maternal relationship, since the relationship with the mother is the first that the child develops. The second stage is the development of autonomy vs. shame and doubt, which focuses on the increasingly complex familial and social relationships a child develops with others and with the self. Stage 3 is initiative vs. guilt, where autonomy develops further into initiative. Depending on the levels of initiative and guilt, stage 4 focuses on industry vs. inferiority. This is where the individual either distinguishes him- or herself as a fully conscious, free-thinking person or a conformist who can be manipulated by others. The development of identity vs. role confusion is the next stage, while intimacy vs. isolation is the sixth stage. The generativity in stage 7 develops from healthy intimate and professional relationships, while stagnation is its opposite. Erikson emphasizes that a desire to establish and guide the next…

Sources Used in Document:


Adler Graduate School. (2014). Alfred Adler: Theory and Application. Retrieved from:

Beyers, W. And Seiffge-Krenke, I. (2010). Does Identity Precede Intimacy? Testing Erikson's Theory on Romantic Development in Emerging Adults of the 21st Century. Journal of Adolescent Research. 20(10). Retrieved from:

Davis, D. And Clifton, A. (n.d.) Psychosocial Theory: Erikson. Retrieved from:

Goodman, S.H., Connell, A.M., and Hall, C.M. (2011). Maternal Depression and Child Psychopathology: A Meta-Analytic Review. Clinical Child Family Psychological Review. 14. Retrieved from:

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