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Ego Psychology in Social Work

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Charlene Bradt

on 24 April 2014

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Transcript of Ego Psychology in Social Work

Ego Psychology in Social Work
Theoretical Basis
A deviation from Sigmund
's id, ego, and superego model which was introduced in

Developed as a theory of human behavior,emphasizing the role of the ego over the mind's other components.

The ego attempts to reconcile one's internal needs/ desires with social expectations

Emphasis on the use of defense mechanisms

Ego Psychology in
Social Work Practice

(restoring, maintaining or enhancing client functioning while strengthening ego)

(long-term focus on psychoanalytic methods)
Ego Psychology &
Social Work Values
Emphasis on the clients right to self-determination.
The client-worker relationship is a helping relationship.
Start where the client is and include client in entire process.

Social worker must:

Convey an acceptance of clients worth
Provide non-judgmental attitude
Show appreciation for client's individuality
Confirm client confidentiality
Displays empathy and authenticity

Works best with clients who want to look inside themselves

Forces clients to deal with emotions and their past

Ego psychology can be helpful but only if client has to want to do this type of therapy
of Ego psychology
Outcomes are not always easy to measure

Based largely on practitioners' and clients'
reports which can be subjective
Key Assumptions
People are born with the
ability to adapt to their environments

Social influences significantly affect psychological functioning and are often transmitted through the family unit

Mastery, competence, pleasure and aggression are important
in human behavior

Person-environment and internal conflicts can cause problems with social functioning at any stage of development
Henriques, G. (2013). The elements of ego functioning. Theory of Knowledge. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/theory-knowledge/201306/the-elements-ego-functioning
Brown, S. (2012). Ego psychology. Retrieved from http://gmumsw640.blogspot.com/2012/07/stephanie-brown-61312-socw-640-advanced.html

Danzer, G. (2011). From Ego Psychology to Strengths, From Victim to Survivor. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma. 20: 175-198. Taylor and Francis Group.

Boyle, S., Hull, G., Mather, J., Smith, L., & Farley, W. (2006). Knowledge and skills for intervention. Direct Practice In Social Work. Retrieved from http://www.pearsonhighered.com/assets/hip/us/hip_us_pearsonhighered/samplechapter/0205401627.pdf
Ego Psychology in Social Work Practice

Ego Strengthening
(focusing on the positive)

(understanding how the past
impacts the present)

(positive or negative reactions
towards the social worker)
Focuses on the
Biopsychosocial model
assess needs, problems, demographics, social roles, ego functioning, coping strategies and social supports.
Examples of Differences
between Ego-Supportive &
Ego-Modifying Approaches

Current behavior, conscious thoughts & feelings.
Past & present; conscious, preconscious & unconscious
Focus of Intervention
Duration of Intervention
Short term or
long term
Generally long term
Psychological Testing
Directive, sustaining, educative, and structured; some reflection
Nondirective, reflective, interpretive
Criticisms and Limitations

Not much attention given to diversity

Strategies are open ended and not practical in time sensitive practice

Tends to over-emphasize the role of the ego, drives, and defensive mechanisms

Walsh, J. (2006). Theories for Direct Social Work Practice. pp. 28-55. CA: Thompson Cole.
Goldstein, E. G. (1995). Ego psychology and social work practice (2nd ed.). MI: Free Press.
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