Psychosocial Functioning

Psychosocial Factors and Mental Health

Humans are highly influenced by both psychological and social factors. It is the interaction between these 2 forces that determines how the individual will cope in the world. For those seeking rehabilitation from addiction, there is interest in how these psychosocial elements impact mental health. If an individual is having difficulties dealing adequately with their social environment, there may be interventions that can help improve the situation. There is also the hope that more knowledge of psychosocial factors will lead to a better understanding of problems like addiction.

The Stages of Psychosocial Development

The psychologist Erik Erickson developed a theory about psychosocial development where he outlined the expected stages that a human should pass through. These 8 stages of psychological development are each characterized by an issue that needs to be resolved. The stages are:

Trust versus Mistrust

The tendency to trust or mistrust the world will develop within the first year of life. At this stage the infant will be completely at the mercy of the caregiver. If they get the care they need, the infant will develop trust.

Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt

Once a child reaches 2 years of age, they will have begun to explore the world around them. A great deal of learning occurs during this time, and the child will also begin to exert their independence. If the environment is kept safe and they are given the opportunity to develop a sense of self-sufficiency, it will mean that they develop autonomy. If the parents don’t allow the child to be independent, it can lead to shame and doubt. This stage lasts up until the age of four.

Initiative versus Guilt

This stage occurs between the ages of 4 and 6 when the child begins school. This is when they will begin to assert themselves, and the outcome of this will have an impact on their development. If the child feels able to take charge, they will be more likely to take the initiative in the future. If they are not allowed to make their own decisions and be assertive, they can develop a sense of guilt.

Industry versus Inferiority

Between the ages of 7 and 13 years of age, the child develops a fuller sense of themselves as individuals. It is here that they will discover talents and interests and develop self-esteem. If the child does not discover their talents during this period, they can develop a sense of inferiority.

Identity versus Role Confusion

This stage of psychosocial development begins in adolescence and continues into adulthood. At this stage, the individual is focused on how the world perceives them. If experiences during this time help the person build their own identity, this will be a positive outcome for this stage of development. If they fail to develop this sense of identity, it will lead to role confusion.

Intimacy versus Isolation

Here the young adult is experimenting with relationships and intimacy outside the family. If their experiences are not positive, it can lead to loneliness and isolation.

Generativity versus Stagnation

By the time the individual has reached middle age, they will usually have a career, responsibilities, and a long-term relationship. Those who fail in their careers and their relationships can stagnate here. They may feel like life is going nowhere.

Ego Integrity versus Despair

This is the last stage of psychosocial development and occurs around the age of 65. Here the individual will look back over their life and make a judgment about how successful they have been. If they are not satisfied with their accomplishments, there may be a sense of despair.

Psychosocial Disorders

According the Erickson’s theory, any individual who fails to positively resolve the issues that occur during psychosocial development may experience problems in life later on. Psychosocial disorders are mental health problems that occur due to life experiences. Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse can be considered to be psychosocial disorders. The individual may have turned to alcohol because they felt unable to deal with the world around them.

It has been suggested that alcohol or drug abuse among young people can be highly detrimental to their psychosocial development. Those who are involved in substance abuse during this important stage of development will fail to progress naturally through the stages. This will mean that their psychosocial development will be stalled until they are able to escape their addiction. It is argued that the age at which the person became addicted is more important than their chronological age when it comes to treatment.

Psychosocial Functioning Assessment

It can be important for the therapist to assess the psychosocial functioning of any individual they are trying to help. Different tools have been created for conducting such assessments. One example of this is the Psycho-Social Functioning Inventory. This is a questionnaire that when completed offers an insight into a client’s current psychosocial development. This information can then be used when deciding on the most appropriate treatments.

Promoting Psychosocial Functioning

Those individuals who have been diagnosed with psychosocial disorders can be helped using a variety of treatment options. Those individuals who are involved in substance abuse can benefit from addiction treatment programs. Here they can learn new ways of dealing with life which lead to improved psychosocial functioning. It is also possible to treat disorders using counseling and different types of therapy such as psychotherapy or cognitive therapy.

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