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Ecological/ Person In Environment Theory

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Jacob Colby

on 10 April 2013

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Transcript of Ecological/ Person In Environment Theory

Ecological
Person In Environment Theory Natalie Francis
Destony Stewart
Jake Colby Theoretical Basis Key Assumptions Assessment Framework Framework Social Work Values and "PIE" Critique of Theory Efficacy of Theory References Role Play Case Study Activity Just as animals interact with natural environment, human beings interact with their natural and social environments.

It follows closely with Newton and Darwin theories such as objects interacting with other objects make up an environment.

Poor neighborhoods are transactional settings that can negatively impact human behavior and development meaning our neighborhood or where we grow up effects our development as an individual.

(Dybicz, 2009) The key assumptions with this theory are that there is an action/reaction process. Something in our environment occurs and we have a unique reaction to it. The reaction process can later be termed as a trait.

Enhancement of functioning between the individual and the environment to reach an ideal state is a component of understanding the relationship.

The job of the social worker is to trace the causes that impact functioning of the client and then effect change in either the environment or the client. The social worker then provides the client with coping skills and with those coping skills it can allow the client to successfully adapt to their environment.

(Dybicz, 2009)
Child Welfare Manual: Diagramming Families for Assessment. Missouri Department of Social Services. Retrieved from
http://www.dss.mo.gov/cd/info/cwmanual/

Dybicz, P. (2009). A Kantian-Style Critique of Person-in-Environment. Journal of
Progressive Human Services, 20(1) 166-182.

Hong, J., Cho, H., Allen-Meares, P., Espelage, D. (2011). The social Ecology of the
Columbine High School Shooting. Children and Youth Services Review, 33. 861-868.

Karls, J.M., O'Keefe, M. (2009). Person-In-Environment System. In A.R. Roberts (Eds.), Social Worker's Desk Reference.
(371-375). New York, NY: Oxford Publishing.

Kondrat, M.E. (2011). Person In Environment. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-
9780195389678/obo-9780195389678-0092.xml?rskey=afbAIR&result=1&q=person%20in%20environment

Ohmer, M. (2010). How theory and research inform citizen participation in poor
communities: The ecological perspective and theories on self- and collective efficacy and sense of community. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 20, 1-19. doi: 10.1080/10911350903126999

Susan Scherffius Jakes PhD & Craig C. Brookins PhD PhD (2004): Introduction, Journal of
Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 27:2, 1-11. Doi: 10.1300/J005v27n02_01 Genograms are a way to describe and gain insight into relationships and roles within the family unit.

Ecomaps are a way to show a unit's relationship to outside systems. Who the focal system is - their names, ages, relationships, occupations, and religion;
roles and who performs them.

The network - What persons or systems are important to the individual? Outside the immediate family, where does the individual turn for support?

How does the focal individual "fit" in relation to larger society? Are there problems with other organizations, schools, work, church, etc.?

The relationship system(s) - How do members of this system feel about the other parts? Who is close to whom? Are there identifiable alliances? What are the major conflicts within the system from the point of view of each member?

The system through time - What is the significant history about the development of the systems (marriage, children, etc.)? What are the significant themes, patterns, events in the history, major losses, changes, and how has the individual/ system handled them?


(Child Welfare Manual) Assessments Cont. Genogram
The genogram is essentially a family tree diagram that includes other social data.

Hartman (1978) points out that the use of a genogram provides a picture of the family system through time. It enables an individual to step out of the system, examine it, and gain insight into complex family dynamics that have developed over time and how they affect the current situation.

(Child Welfare Manual) Eco Map The eco map is a way of mapping the family system in its environment. The method of diagramming depicts the individual in their dynamic ecological system. It informs the worker of problematic systems and influences within the person's environment. Ann Hartman describes the following functions of the eco map. The mapping procedure:

Portrays an overview of the individual in their ecological situation.
Pictures the important nurturant or conflict-laden connections between the individual and the world.
Demonstrates the flow of resources, or lacks and deprivations.
Highlights the nature of the interfaces and points of conflicts to be mediated, bridges to be built, and resources to be sought and mobilized.


(Child Welfare Manual) A solid or thick line represents a strong connection:



Three solid lines indicates the strong connection is an intense relationship:



A broken line indicates a tenuous relationship:



A zig-zagged line shows a stressful or conflictual relationship:



Indicate the direction of the flow of resources, energy, or interest by drawing arrows along the connecting lines: Theoretical Bases Cont. Lewin’s 1933 saw behavior as a function of the person and the environment [B = F(P, E)]

Murray’s notion of environmental press that saw behavior as created by the interaction of the person’s needs and his (or her) environment.

As a result of ecological theory there has been a gradual shift in psychological practice from seeking to change individual behavior through only individual-focused intervention, to behavior change through changing the environment in addition to the characteristics of the person.

Much of human behavior is an adaptive or maladaptive response to social events and roles in society.

(Scherffius, 2004) How does it feel to be around this new population?

How are you reacting to your new environment?

Are there any problems that you are experiencing?

Do you feel comfortable with the people in your environment?

How have you changed? The person-in-environment model serves as the main guiding framework for guiding social work interventions. It is derived from the ecological systems theory.

The theory defines how individuals interact with their environment.

According to Gordon (1981, p. 167) “So much of social work’s focus is on intervening in one variable to influence other variables”.

The fundamental principle of causality is presented. This is the notion that for every action there is a reaction.

The interface or transaction between person and environment or action and reaction is the main site of social work interaction.

(Dybicz, 2009) Frameworks Cont. Ecological theory is based off of concepts of Causality, Adaptation, and Systems Integration or Thermodynamics.

Implications for practice involve assessments geared toward examining biological, social, and psychological. Biopsychosocial assessments.

It is the job of the social worker to trace the causes that impact the functioning of the client and then effect change in either the environment or the client.

Enhancing functioning through corrective adaption.

Enlightening the client to the cause of the reaction if not already known.

Provide coping skills to adapt to change.

Identifying troubling aspects in client’s environment. Recognize any causality and appropriately use systems theory work to build open or closed systems.

(Dybicz, 2009) The creative capacity for interpretations one’s environment has a lot to offer when addressing issues such as resiliency and empowerment.

It promotes social work values such as social justice and the importance of human relationships.

The notion of "Free will" as a self-fulfilling prophecy to work towards the client’s right of self determination.

Social values go along with understanding the importance of understanding the interaction between people and their environment. PIE/ Ecological theory emphasize equilibrium which relates to sustainability.

The value of service to address complex systems affecting individual behavior.

Requires social workers to be competent and take a multifaceted approach to intervening on client’s behalf.

(Dybicz, 2009) Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Model Theoretical Basis Cont. The engagement of residents in poor, disadvantaged communities has been a focus of social work practice for a long time.

Community-based social work strategies were created to enhance citizen participation and build the capacity of residents to address issues in poor communities, including problems of at risk youth, unemployment, affordable housing, crime and safety.

(Ohmer, 2010) Case Study Activity Instructions: Read the case study and draw an Eco Map in relation to systems and environment discussed in the case.

Discuss systems affecting the individual. Appropriateness for verifying client population.

Clarity and Specification of Person In Environment.

Group's View. Appropriateness for Varying Populations Not an intervention, it is a framework.

Helps increase the range of interventions. Clarity and Degree of Pie Defining and differentiating SW from other fields.

It is concrete. Group's View on PIE Can be used as an assessment tool.

Provides information for more adequate interventions. Person in environment is not a theory.

Provides a basis for gathering data. An important theory that is rooted in person and the environment is systems theory.

Systems theory describes relationships that make up components of a whole or system.

Systems are a series of connections and interrelationships between people and groups. Essentially, social systems are connections of relationships between a person or persons and their environment. A social system can include family, friends, classmates, work, and several others.


The microsystem is the most inner layer of the environment and include the person’s or focal system’s primary interactions. These are individuals that there is direct and face-to-face contact with.

The mesosystem are connections of microsystems that have relations with one another.

The exosystems are systems that indirectly influence the focused individual through direct influences or the individual’s microsystems.

Lastly, macrosystems are larger contexts that affect all the other systems on a much broader level. Through both these direct and indirect influences; the focal system is influenced by his or her immediate environment.

(Hong, 2011)
Ecological Systems theory can also be explained through Uri Bronfenbrenner’s ecological perspective as four interdependent levels of systems. The ecological framework is made up of the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem. (Kondrat, 2011) (Karls, 2009) (Kondrat, 2011)
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