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Human Growth, Behaviour and Development

Human Growth, Behaviour and Development
Essential Theory and Application in Social Work

November 2015 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Understanding the way in which individuals develop before birth, as babies, children and adolescents through to young and older adulthood towards death is an important part of any social work role. Being able to skilfully apply this understanding in real life practice situations is even more important, as purposeful translations of human development are at the heart of effective professional practice.


Introducing students to emotional, psychological and social developmental theories of human growth before exploring in detail how these theories can be incorporated into practice, this book will ensure students have all the tools they need to not only understand but critically appraise and apply psychosocial theories early on in training and whilst on placement. With the help of real world case studies, summaries and tips for further study, it will show students how life course theories inter-relate and how they can make appropriate, purposeful translations of theory into skilled, professional practice.

Childhood in the early years
Attachment – bonding and brain development
Erikson - the initial stages
Object Relations Theory – meet my needs
From childhood through adolescence to becoming an adult
Attachment – new relationships on old foundations
Erikson - from identity to intimacy
Object Relations Theory – looking for the perfect match
Adulthood and Older Age
Attachment – the complexity of adult attachments
Erikson (stages 7-8) – from mid-life to contentment or despair
Object Relations Theory - maturity or immaturity
Surviving life’s challenges
Loss, Change & Transitions
Family Systems and psychodynamics – is there such a thing as a “normal family”?
Trauma & Resilience
Voices from practice

Gibson and Gibson have created an important student-friendly resource in this well-written and informative book.  If you struggling to make sense of life course theory, particularly key psychodynamic theory’s and concepts, and their impact across the life course this highly readable book will help! Primarily aimed at social work students, the coverage of key theories is comprehensive. Learning is supported through links to case studies, and providing opportunities for critical thinking and reflection to support their application to practice. This book provides a welcome extension to the important discussions in life course theory practice.

Dr Janet Walker
University of Lincoln

The book covers some key areas that align with my teaching for the module, such as attachment, Erikson, and loss. As such, I felt that this was an accessible and useful text to add to this module.

Miss Rachael Cleveland-Doxford
Faculty of Health and Social Care, Coventry University
December 6, 2023

This was a brilliant book that I drew on substantially in developing my sessions for social work apprentices (L5) on their theoretical perspectives in social work module. It was easy to understand with some great exercises in to help relate the ideas to practice. This book was used by our students within their assignments to a significant extent.

Miss Sarah Jane Brain
School of Social Work,Allied&Public He, Staffordshire University
February 9, 2023

Useful book and helps to explain theory links for human growth and development. Lots of key theorists including Bowlby, Erikson, Freud are discussed with good links to social work practice.

Miss Sunnie Sian
Teacher Education & Prof Development, CWA Assessor
December 26, 2022

This is an accessible read and very useful for student social workers. If you need to better understand life course theory, particularly key psychodynamic theory’s and concepts, and their impact across the life course this book covers key theories where case studies are used to support learning and Help in application to practice.

Ms Teresa Bufton
Social Work, Heart of Worcestershire College
August 8, 2019

A very helpful addition to the subject, with the life-span approach logical and helpful to students.

Mr Luke Tibbits
Centre for Lifelong Learning, Warwick University
August 26, 2016

Well written, this covers a good range of developmental theories, explaining them in a clear manner, which will help students to develop their knowledge of human growth and development. It is very helpful to have critical thinking boxes, which prompt students to engage further. Links to social work practice are also helpful.

Mrs Bec Buss
Social Work, Ruskin College
June 15, 2016

This is an excellent text which comprehensively covers this subject area. Highly recommended.

Mr Paul Rimmer
Social Work , Edge Hill University
March 23, 2016

This is one of several texts for Social Work students which explains key lifespan theories, and applies them to assessment and intervention. The use of case examples, and critical thinking tasks is excellent, as is the 'how does this help social work' sections.

Mr Dave Mason
Faculty of Health Sciences, Staffordshire University
July 12, 2016

As a tutor who teaches Human Growth & Development this book will be very useful addition to our learning resources.
The links from theory to practice are particularly good and will offer a good insight for my students

Mrs Shona Floyd
Health & Social Care, Peterborough Regional College
June 17, 2016

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

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