Category: Psychology
Developmental Psychology

In order to help a patient recover sooner, nurses must know the basics of developmental psychology. It is very important to understand the mental processes, behaviors and emotional state of a patient in order to give him useful advice and treatment. The report covers a case study of Aimee, a girl that requires placement in a hospital and a surgery. The case study provides a description of the person, the given situation, physical and medical condition of a person, it also describes social circumstances that are relevant to the situation. The report covers the physical, cognitive, and social needs of a patient, and explains Aimee’s needs according to the theory of attachment.

Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment and Other Theories of Development

There are many theories related to human development and psychology, such as Freud, Erikson, Behaviorism, Piaget, Vygotsky, Kohlberg, and other theories of development. Each theory provides an explanation of the process of human development. An emotional bond between two people is an attachment, and this attachment is very important for the proper development of a person. Bowlby developed the theory of attachment when he was trying to understand the strong distress that infants were experiencing during the separation from their mothers and fathers. Investigation of the adult attachment theory is based on the idea that the system of motivation that results in the rise of the strong emotional bondage between parents and children is the result of the bond that develops in the adult emotionally intimate and close relationships. According to Bowlby, the infants would cry, cling and frantically search, to prevent the separation, or to make them come back. According to Bowlby, the expressions of the infants may be an evolutionary function leading to the process of psychological development. Bowlby believed that attachment to the parents is very important for the future life of a child.

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Factors That Affect Social Development

Social, emotional, environmental, and cultural factors affect the development of a person, and they have a strong influence on the health and wellbeing of this person. Social skills of a person are developed by the family of this particular person and they have an influence on the whole life of a person because the ability to communicate with other people depends on the social skills that the person acquired in the family. Interactions in the family help the child to socialize; the attachment with parents prepares the child for his future bonds with people. Emotional, environmental and cultural factors are also very important for the developmental process of a person.

The Role of Developmental Psychology in Nursing Practice

Developmental psychology plays an important role in nursing practice. Nurses must help people in the process of their recovery. In order to help people recover, nurses must understand the behavior and mental processes of their patient. Thus, developmental psychology is essential in nursing practice, because by using developmental psychology, a nurse can better understand the emotional state of a person that is recovering from a health problem.

Stages of the Life Span

There are particular stages of the lifespan related to physical, cognitive, psychological, social, spiritual, and emotional development. The life span development starts with prenatal experience, continues with a birth of a person, then with an infancy period, then early childhood, middle childhood, the adolescent period, continued by the major stages of life that are related to the end of life. On each stage of the life span development, a person has a specific level of emotional, cognitive, social, and physical development.

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Aimee’s Physical and Psychological Crisis

The object of analysis and discussion of the case study is Aimee, who is going through a developmental physical and psychological crisis. Aimee requires nursing care in a clinical setting.

Aimee is a two-and-a-half-year-old girl. She needs to go to the hospital for corrective surgery. She has a congenital deformity of her hips. In case the operation and recovery process goes well, Aimee will stay in the hospital for approximately ten days.

Aimee is an only child in the family. She has never spent time apart from her parents Mildred and George. Aimee knows her GP and Specialist very well because she frequently visited their rooms. However, she has never been in hospital since she was born. Aimee’s language ability is normal for her age, she uses simple words such as “hospital” and “operation”. Aimee knows how to ask questions to satisfy her basic needs.

In order to calm Aimee down and prepare her for hospital experience, her mother has read Aimee many stories about children in the hospital. The aim of those stories was to explain Aimee what happens when a child goes to the hospital, and what happens to a child when he/she has an operation in simple terminology, so Aimee can understand everything. According to Aimee’s mother, even though Aimee can repeat some words from the stories, that she read, Aimee has a limited understanding of the situation, and she does not completely understand what is going to happen to her.

Her physical condition is that she has a birth defect, called congenital deformity of a hip. It requires placement in a hospital and surgery.

Aimee has a physiologic disorder. Her medical condition requires surgery, and Aimee has to stay in the hospital for ten days.

There are some social circumstances, which are relevant to the situation, such as the fact, that Aimee is going to stay in the hospital for the first time. Thus, her mother is afraid that Aimee will have problems with separation from her parents. Her mother is also afraid, that Aimee’s friends will avoid Aimee after the operation.

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According to her lifespan stage, Aimee has some particular physical, cognitive and psychological needs. Aimee needs to be with her mother, to communicate with her parents in order to feel safe and taken care of. Aimee’s physical needs have to be taken care of since she is a child, so is not independent. Aimee needs to feel that her mother is close to her and can protect her.

There are some particular developmental issues for the lifespan stage, on which Aimee is at the moment, such as that Aimee is learning to talk properly, to understand the world better, she is trying to master her social skills, so she needs to feel connection and attachment to her mother and father. In order to develop successfully, Aimee must feel safe and satisfied.

Aimee is on a toddler stage of development. She is in her early childhood stage of development. The attachment with parents is very important at this stage.

In relevance to the case study scenario, there are three possible therapeutic interventions. Different types of interventions can be used to suit Aimee’s needs. Different approaches may be helpful. The therapeutic interventions that can be used are individual treatment, parent guidance, psychopharmacology.

Aimee’s mother may ask for my advice in this situation. She may ask how the impending surgery and hospitalization may affect Aimee’s overall psychological health and development. To answer this question, I must say, that Aimee has particular physical needs at her age. Those needs are to feel that her mother will protect her, stay with Aimee, and take care of her. Aimee’s mother is also required to satisfy all the physical needs of her daughter.

In order to give her a better understanding of the situation and a better picture of what will happen, Aimee’s mother needs to know several things. Aimee’s mother has to understand that Aimee really needs this surgery, so she must be placed in the hospital. She must be ready to frequently visit her daughter in the hospital to take care of her. She must also understand that Aimee will be taken care of by the professionals, so she does not have to be overly worried about Aimee.

There are different relevant theories of development. According to one of the theories, Aimee’s level of understanding is not complete. There is a way to explain Aimee everything so that she does not panic. Her mother must tell Aimee, that everything will be fine, the operation will be performed by professional doctors, Aimee will see a dream during the operation. The important fact is that Aimee’s mother will always be there to take care of Aimee.

According to Bowlby’s theory of attachment, relevant to her age, Aimee may be affected by any length of separation. According to Bowlby (1988), any attachment relationship gives pleasure to a parent and a child, the ability to play and communicate with each other gives a mother and a child so much joy. Both receiving and giving pleasure is very important in a healthy attachment relationship. If the ability to communicate is prevented for some reason, the child is affected by this separation. A child can feel desperate if the attachment is not fully restored for a rather long period of time. According to Bowlby (1973), anger is a common response to separation from a parent. Bowlby (1973) suggested, that: “the most violently angry and dysfunctional responses of all are elicited in children and adolescents who not only experience repeated separations but are constantly subjected to the threat of being abandoned (96)”. Thus, parents do not want to leave children alone in the hospitals, due to the possibility, that this separation can have a negative impact on their child.

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According to Bowlby (1988), there are three phases of response to the separation from a parent: protest to separation, despair, and detachment. According to Bowlby, detachment is a result of a protest and despair, detachment can occur in case of a long term or frequent separation from a parent.

Aimee’s mother needs to know the specific information about staying with or leaving Aimee, in order to reassure her. She should know that Aimee can be left in the hospital, but Aimee must know that her mother will be available whenever Aimee needs her. Aimee’s mother must reassure Aimee, that everything will be fine, and she will visit Aimee all the time and will be there if needed. According to Bowlby, if a child is confident that the attachment figure is available, he/she will not fall into despair, so there will be no protest and detachment from the relationship.

Aimee’s mother and father have a fear that Aimee’s little friends will be frightened by Aimee’s appearance when they see her in the hospital or at home after the surgery. The reason for this fear is the fact, that Aimee will be wearing a plaster hip and leg cast.

Aimee’s mother worries how Aimee will adjust to the situation. She worries that Aimee’s friends will reject her or even tease her at the playgroup that Aimee attends every week. According to theories of development, there is a way to reassure Aimee’s parents. According to Bowlby (1951), Aimee will feel safe if her mother will show her that she will be there for Aimee whenever Aimee needs her. Aimee’s mother must show Aimee, that she is a dependable parent, and Aimee can trust her. According to Russell, nurses must understand the emotional state of the patient, and help the patient recover by supporting him. Dealing with people’s emotions and giving correct advice is very important for nurses.

To sum up, development psychology is very important for nurses, because in order to help a patient recover, a nurse must understand the emotional state, mental processes, and behavior of a patient. This case study presented an analysis of Aimee’s developmental physical and psychological crisis that was related to the fact, that she needs surgery. Theory of attachment explains what Aimee and her parents are feeling in the situation when they have to be separated from each other, and it helps to understand the situation better and give patient’s mother correct advice.

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