Application of Human Behavior Theories


Applicationof Human Behavior Theories

Socialwork involves the application of diverse knowledge of psychologicaland physiological perspectives of evaluating people. The significanceof such knowledge is even more enforced when dealing with groups orindividuals of specialized cases such as the elderly. Theunderstanding of human behavior is important for a social health careworker to effectively provide appropriate services to specializedclients (Passeret al, 2009).From the perspective of the social care providers, understanding ofclients and patients requires the application of appropriate theoriesof human behavior. This is because these theories enable a socialworker to relate the known knowledge about human behavior to theexperiences of the clients (Passeret al, 2009).Consequently, social workers are able to guide their clients towardsrecovery by altering negative behavior that is harmful to their wellbeing and health. This paper will explore the application of thetheories of cognitive psychology and psychodynamics to understandhuman behavior. Taking the case of Mr. Robert, an aged alcoholic,this paper aims at discussing how the two theories can be used tounderstand his situation and inspiring behavioral change.


Psychodynamicsis the approach that explores the understanding of the psychologicalforces that influence the human emotions, feelings and behavior. Thistheory studies the relationship between the various parts of a humanbeing as they relate to motivational, mental and emotional forces(Kalat,2013). Psychodynamics further explores how the psychological forcesare related to the early experience of an individual. As developed bySigmund Freud, psychodynamics is used to describe the mind processesthat lead to the flow of psychological energy that influences thehuman behavior. The use of this approach is less intense in thetreatment of psychological distress compared to other treatmentapproaches(Plotnik&amp Kouyoumdjian,2013). However,the application of psychodynamics allows a social worker tounderstand the behavior of a person and the origin of the situationunder review.

Thepsychodynamics therapy is based on the theory of inner conflicts thathelp in revealing the repressed behaviors and emotions. Through theapplication of psychodynamics, a social worker is able to understandthese past experiences and help the patient to recover by resurfacingof the repressed behaviors and emotions. According to Plotnikand Kouyoumdjian(2013), thesurfacing of the patient’s experiences and past, brings them intothe consciousness the patient, leading to healing and recovery.Generally, psychodynamics explores the understanding of theinterrelationship between personality, the mind and psyche inrelation to the motivational, emotional and mental forces(McClintock,2009).The approach studies the mental forces in terms of interaction ofpsychological forces that affect behavior, and the inner forces thataffect behavior.


Thecognitive psychology is a human behavior theory that studies themental processes that shape human behavior. According to Braisby andGellatly (2012), the cognitive psychology studies the use oflanguage, perception, the memory, creativity, problem solving andthinking, among other cognitive processes. The theory of cognitivepsychology helps psychologists to explore different disciplines suchas abnormal psychology, educational psychology, personalitypsychology and social psychology among others. The focus on themental processes helps a social worker or a psychologist tounderstand the mental background of a person and how they shape hisor her behavior (Temple,1990).Consequently, a social worker will be able to predict the behavior ofan individual by exploring and understanding his or her cognitivetrends.

Oneof the main focuses of the cognitive psychology is the attention ofan individual. Being a cognitive process, the attention of a persondetermines the type of behavior that he or she gives priority andwhy. By understanding the factors that influence the attention of aperson, a social worker will be able to determine the extent to atwhich the behavior of a person can be altered by helping him or heradopt a different focus of attention (Braisby &amp Gellatly, 2012).The cognitive psychology theory also explores the meta-cognition of aperson, which are the thoughts that an individual holds about his orher thought. This helps a social worker to understand how a personviews himself and how effective the self monitoring process of anindividual is. Similarly, the theory explores the adoption oflanguage as an element of cognitive processes and how it relates tothe behavior of a person (Temple,1990).By understanding the language, the psychologist will know thecognitive processes and what motivated the use of the particularlanguage that relates to the behavior of the person.

Theapplication of cognitive psychology allows a psychologist tounderstand the elements of memory of an individual. Through theapproach, the social worker will understand the procedural memorythat relates to the subconscious level of the individual. Since theprocedural memory requires less of conscious effort by theindividual, the focus on the memory allows a psychologist to explorethe past experiences of an individual (Braisby &amp Gellatly, 2012).In addition, this theory explores the semantic memory that exposesthe knowledge possessed by an individual this helps to evaluate theirconscious behavior. More importantly, the use of the cognitiveapproach helps in the understanding of the most significant events ofan individual’s life.

Mr.Robert’s Case

Mr.Robert is an aged man living in the accommodation for the old, withthe risk of homelessness. With the responsibility of taking care ofthe old people, social workers need to know the history of thepatients and clients like Robert. This is what inspires the socialworker assigned to Robert to understand that he is alcoholic. Beingan alcoholic, the situation presents a further case for the socialworker since he or she has to take care of Robert in two major ways.First, understand his current situation of aging and help himappreciate the old age and live towards his sunset gracefully.Secondly, the social worker has to help Robert to heal from thealcoholic habit by understanding his psychological forces thatinfluence the behavior. To do this, the social worker can use varioustheories of human behavior that help him or her to understand thepsychological processes that shape Robert’s behavior.

Useof Psychodynamics

Thesocial worker can use Psychodynamics as an approach to thepsychological process of treating Robert. Through the use ofPsychodynamics, the social worker will study the psychological forcesthat influence the behavior of Mr. Robert. The adoption of theapproach will help the social worker to understand the emotions, thefeelings and behavior of Mr. Robert and how they relate to his earlyexperiences. To understand the behavior of Mr. Robert, the socialworker needs to explore the interrelationship between his psyche, hispersonality and his mind. This will be in relation to emotional,motivational and mental forces (Kalat,2013). Through the adoption of the theory, the social worker will notonly be able to understand his behavior but also his emotionsespecially at the unconscious level. Through the use ofpsychodynamics, the social worker will understand the causes of thehabit of alcoholism that Mr. Robert has adopted and how to counterthe behavior.

Throughthe use of psychodynamics, the social worker will understand thefeelings that Mr. Robert has about his current situation. This isbecause the theory will help the social worker to study the behaviorof Robert as it relates to the feelings that influence his perceptionabout himself. In addition, the use of the psychodynamics theory willexpose the emotional status of Mr. Robert and determine the extent atwhich his behavior is affected by the emotional factors. The socialworker will need to understand the dynamics of the relationshipbetween the conscious and the unconscious motivation that lead to thebehavior of alcoholism by Mr. Robert. This will only be able throughthe use of an approach that studies the relationship between themental processes of Robert and the behavior he portray. Therefore,psychodynamics becomes the most appropriate theory of human behaviorto apply.

Useof Cognitive Psychology

Byadopting Cognitive Psychology, the social worker will understand themental processes that influence Robert to adopt alcoholic behavior.One of the significant applications of this approach is indetermining the levels of mental forces that leads Robert toalcoholism. One of the levels is the memories that Robert holds thatcould be the cause for the alcoholic habit. Without firstunderstanding the causes of these memories, the process ofrehabilitating Robert from alcoholism may be futile or difficult.Therefore, the social worker needs to adopt the knowledge onprocedural memory to activate some memories on the unconscious level.This will expose some of the experiences that Robert could have facedin his life that tends to lead to depressing situations that mayignite his alcoholism. Through the application of cognitivepsychology approach, the social worker will understand both thesemantic and episodic memory that informs how Robert consciouslyviews his current experiences.

Thesocial worker will study the language that Robert uses to understandhis cognitive approach and deduce his perception regarding hisexperiences. By studying Robert’s perception, the social workerwill understand the use of language as a cognitive process and themental processes that influence the behavior of alcoholism. Tounderstand why Robert takes alcohol, even at his old age, the socialworker will need to question the language he uses by assessing theattention of his thoughts and perception. This will help the socialworker to expose the mental processes that shape the thinkingpatterns of the old man. As a result, the social worker willdetermine the most appropriate intervention methods of altering thenegative behavior.


Theoriesof human behavior help psychologists and social workers by enhancingthe understanding of why people behave in certain ways. In the caseof Mr. Robert, the social worker can to apply psychodynamics andcognitive psychology to understand why he is alcoholic. To understandthe case study, the social worker needs to apply various theories ofhuman behavior. These theories help the social worker to expose themental and emotional factors that influence the behavior of theclient. In order to successfully guide Mr. Robert towards healing,the social worker will understand his cognitive processes throughcognitive psychology approach. Moreover, the social worker will applypsychodynamics to understand the forces that influence his behavior.


Braisby,N., &amp Gellatly, A. (2012). CognitivePsychology.Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kalat,J. (2013). Introductionto Psychology.Stamford,&nbspCT:Cengage Learning

McClintock,T. (2009). Psychodynamic Perspectives on Aging and Illness.Stamford,&nbspCT:Cengage Learning

Passeret al, (2009).Psychology:The Science of Mind and Behavior.McGraw-HillHigher Education

Plotnik,R., &amp Kouyoumdjian,H. (2013). Introductionto Psychology.Stamford,&nbspCT:Cengage Learning

Temple,C. M. (1990). &quotDevelopments and applications of cognitiveneuropsychology.&quot In M. W. Eysenck (Ed.) CognitivePsychology: An International Review.West Sussex, UK: John Wiley &amp Sons Ltd