Development in Adolescence

Learning Objectives:

  • Explore and connect Psychosocial, Cognitive, and Psychosexual Development
  • Explore and connect another Theory, Approach, or Perspective to work in critical thinking skills for client assessments
  • Exploring important aspects of a person’s experience and ability to justify why they are important


Photo by Spencer Russell on Unsplash

Maryam is the oldest daughter in a family of four children and a Junior at Alamo High School. Maryam’s mother is Superintendent of the school district and her father owns a thriving consultant company. Maryam is the president of the junior class, a starter on the basketball and volleyball teams, the secretary for the Spanish club, and a peer mentor at both school and church. She has met with the school counselor to discuss her plans to get into her first choice for college at Cornell University. When the counselor comments on her busy schedule, Maryam replies, “Well, I know but it’s what you have to do to get into a good school and I know what I want. I appreciate your help with the information, but I’ve got to go to class now, see you later!” The school counselor stops her before she leaves and inquires if Maryam would be open to meeting with the school Social Worker to explore some strategies for managing a busy schedule and Maryam shrugs and states, “sure, why not”.

The Social Worker asks to meet with Maryam the following week to check in and see how she is doing. Maryam reports feeling fine. She states “I know I’m busy but if I want to achieve my goals, then I have to be. Colleges want to see all the stuff you’ve done, and I want to make sure it’s enough”. The Social Worker reflects this and her desire to accomplish her goals, and then asks how Maryam handles all the stress that comes along with being engaged in so many activities as well as any pressure she may feel about going to college. Maryam replies “I don’t know. Fine, I guess. I mean, I don’t sleep much because I’m constantly thinking of all the things I have to do the next day and making sure I get into Cornell, and sometimes my head hurts, but I think that’s just from all the reading I have to do, besides, don’t most kids my age feel this way? I mean I just don’t want to disappoint my parents. They’re really hoping I get into Cornell because that’s where they both went to school”. The Social Worker asks Maryam what she plans to major in and Maryam states “I’m not really sure. My mom thinks I should go into education like her and my dad thinks I should go into business or finance like him”. The Social Worker asks Maryam to take some time over the next week and think about what she would choose if it were completely her decision and did not feel pressure coming from anyone, and to meet again to discuss what she comes up with. Maryam is agreeable and schedules a time to meet the following week.

Maryam arrives the following week, seeming a little more down. The Social Worker asks how she is doing, and she replies, “not so great”. The Social Worker explores this with Maryam and she states “That activity you had me do, it just really got to me because I didn’t think it would be so hard to think about what I actually wanted, not what my parents have wanted for me, but what I actually wanted”. She reported feeling more anxious over the past week, stating “I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and feeling like I should know, I mean, who doesn’t know what they would want to do if they could do anything they wanted? I also noticed I wasn’t as motivated to do any of my normal extracurricular activities, except for running, that always makes me feel better”. The Social Worker discussed how her feelings were actually very normal for someone her age, as well as for many people trying to find “the perfect fit” and shared this is something that takes time and this being ok as well. Maryam reported feeling some relief hearing this and asked to meet with the Social Worker again.

Critical Thinking:

  1. What stage of Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development is the client currently in? Are they meeting expectations of this stage? Examples? Are they demonstrating any delays in this stage? Examples?
  2. What stage of Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development are they currently in? Are they meeting the goals of this stage? Examples? Are they demonstrating any struggles with their goals in this stage? Examples?
  3. What theory, approach, or perspective from previous Dimensions (PIE, Biopsychosocial, Sociocultural, or Social Change) would you use to assess this client? Why?
  4. What do you feel are the most important aspects (physical development, attachment, sexual development, etc) to consider for this client? Why?


Hutchinson, E. D. (2019). Dimensions of human behavior (Sixth edition). Sage Publications, Inc.



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Human Behavior and the Social Environment I Copyright © 2020 by Susan Tyler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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