Adolescent Counseling And Developmental Theories


All humans have fundamental necessities that vary at different stages in life. For the adolescent, due to the significant social and emotional development occurring, these demands are even more apparent. For such as demographic, belonging entails experiencing a sense of acceptance and harmony with their immediate surrounding and desired goals. This research paper explores four theories of normal development, including Piaget’s theory of adolescent cognitive development, Bowlby’s attachment theory, Bandura’s social learning theory, and Erikson’s psychosocial developmental theory. The aim is to examine recent research believes these theories discuss how they help in the therapy process.

Piaget’s Theory of Adolescent Cognitive Development

Piaget’s theory of adolescent cognitive development demonstrates the need for handling adolescents as individuals that can grasp and carefully manage theoretical topics using this new mode of reasoning. The theory acknowledges that the sense of awareness among adolescents justifies the need for eclectic counseling support that inculcates thought discipline (Babakr et al., 2019). The concepts are based on developmental science and understanding of human behavior associated with an adolescent with logical reasoning that can be developed by exploring their innovative capabilities. Piaget’s theory appreciates that the concept of mind control directly impacts the ability to generate new thoughts, pictures, or conceptions about external things that are not perceptible to the senses Kazi & Galanaki, 2019). In such a case, envisioning can be used in effective counseling intervention as the adolescent has well-developed mental faculties that influence behavior and perception of reality.

The Need for Discipline in Imagination

Piaget’s theory of adolescent cognitive development provides the basis for developing counseling intervention that explores the power of imagination that develops among the adolescent. Piaget’s theory acknowledges that human imagination develops at adolescence but is a significant resource often underutilized, especially in a school setting that demands attention (Zatloukal et al., 2019). Studies have demonstrated that schools need to introduce training on developing imagination as a creative tool in the mind (Kruger 2021). Similar research has revealed that imagination plays a critical role in fostering creativity and cultivating the mind (Carvalho et al., 2018). There is a growing fear that people are losing their creativity as their obligations increase. Scientists are learning that engaging in intentional imagination throughout adolescence and maturity may aid in achieving desired outcomes and manifesting aspirations.

Managing Mental Health Issues

One of the most effective applications of Piaget’s theory is in mental health support among adolescents. An apparent lack of control over one’s thoughts is shared among various psychiatric conditions (Sanchez et al., 2022). There are mental health issues that have been directly associated with mind control problems, such as paranoia, acute anxiety, and obsessive-Compulsive disorder (OCD) (Fusar‐Poli et al., 2021). Effectively applying the concepts in thought control might solve common mental health problems among adolescents, such as anxiety and depression (Zatloukal et al., 2019). According to cognitive-behavioral theories, negative assessment of obsessional thinking is critical in its escalation and retention (Carvalho et al., 2018). It recommends that control must be exercised over thoughts that portend possible threats. The need to address such limitation is best understood in conjunction with the science of conciseness related to the desire for personal growth and self-accomplishment.

Bowlby’s Attachment Theory

Bowlby’s attachment theory also introduces essential concepts applicable in improving the quality of counseling among adolescents. According to Bowlby’s maternal deprivation theory, persistent disruption of the bond between newborn and primary caregiver may result in long-term cognitive, social, and emotional issues for the child (Fonagy et al., 2018). Delinquency, diminished intelligence quotient, increased violence, sadness, and psychopathy are all examples of such mental health concerns (Reisz et al., 2018). Affectionless psychopathy is characterized by an inability to demonstrate empathy or compassion for others. These people behave impulsively, with little concern for the repercussions of their conduct, and exhibit no remorse for their antisocial behavior. Bowlby’s attachment theory is often defined based on its interpretation of growth related to early childhood experiences.

The Long-term Consequences of Maternal Deprivation

For instance, Bowlby’s attachment theory demonstrates the instincts likely to attract a child to their mother, referring to mental health vulnerabilities associated with neglect. Babies are born with a predisposition to exhibit some intrinsic behaviors that aid in establishing closeness and contact with their mother or attachment figure, including crying, smiling, and crawling (Fonagy et al., 2018). At first, these attachment behaviors behave similarly to set activity patterns, and all serve the same purpose. Infants have innate social releaser’ behaviors such as crying and smiling, which excite adult caregivers. Bowlby’s theory recognizes that the newborns remained close to their mothers throughout the human species’ development, who lived to produce offspring of their own.

Bowlby’s attachment theory recommends investigating the upbringing of the vulnerable adolescent to define the appropriate psychological care intervention. The theory highlights the need for a secure attachment type associated with a warm and caring relationship between mother and child. Studies have demonstrated that children and young adults feel loved and cared for and have the capacity to create good connections with individuals in their immediate environment. Bowlby postulated that newborns and mothers acquire a biological need to maintain touch (Fonagy et al., 2018). The basis of the theory is that human characteristics such as closeness seeking are innate and would be triggered by any circumstance that seems to jeopardize achieving proximity, such as detachment, insecurity, or fright. An adolescent’s behavior should be scrutinized for a possible case of distress from parental neglect as a trigger for abnormal behavior and the varied views about their reality.

The Varied Views about Reality

Bowlby’s attachment theory also recommends that individual variations in views about the nature of qualities be considered in developing effective counseling intervention. Bowlby hypothesized that the dread of strangers is a necessary survival strategy ingrained into nature (Reiszet al., 2018). Similar studies have shown that individual variations in reality views begin in preschool and are modified throughout time by signals received from various sources, including parents, instructors, and society (Kruger 2021). The direction in which parents praise their children is critical as it defines the mental models necessary to make a proper judgment (Carvalho et al., 2018). Studies have shown that young children who get praised for their effort rather than aptitude are more likely to develop confidence and motivation years later (Zatloukal et al., 2019). As a counselor, some of the responsibilities would include public sensitization of society-level moral standards and their impact on the perception of reality among adolescents.

Bandura’s Social Learning Theory

Bandura’s social learning theory introduces the concept of immediate environment affecting the psychosocial behavior of the adolescent demographic. The theory also postulates that the adolescent population depends on observation and training for intellectual and social growth (Yılmaz et al., 2019). In such a case, the power of human awareness to reflect cognitive activities and control over-functioning in social and academic settings is significant. While most people can achieve sufficient levels of cognitive control in most situations, the capacity to manage one’s attention and thoughts are far from flawless (Fusar‐Poli et al., 2021). The adolescent population is not likely to have developed levels of awareness that many naturally awaken essential mind tools such as imagination. Counseling the adolescent population should recognize the need to develop focus and imagination as faculties of the mind that can positively change the perception of reality.

Handling children at home and learning institutions also helps define their behavior and sense of security that directly defines their psychological stability at adolescence. Bandura’s social learning theory demonstrates that anxious or ambivalent children tend to mistrust caretakers, and this uncertainty often results in their world being examined with apprehension rather than enjoyment. Similar studies have referred the adolescent as a vulnerable demographic that would likely seek acceptance from their peers and are constantly on the lookout for signs of abandonment (Yılmaz et al., 2019). Children who grow in an anxious-ambivalent environment can continue their impaired perception into adolescence and frequently feel neglected by their relationships while unable to communicate love and connectedness.

Bandura’s social learning theory also elaborates on the tendency for adolescents to learn from each other and the adult population in their immediate environment. Studies on the application of the theory made observations that adolescents and young adults pay attention to the conduct of some of these people in their environment depending on their behavior models (Gagnon 2018). The adolescent may eventually mimic the observed behavior, eventually developing into a habit. Similar studies have proven these insights noting that adolescents and young adults may do so regardless of whether the conduct is considered gender suitable. Still, several mechanisms increase the likelihood that the individual would duplicate the behavior that the dominating culture considers proper for its gender. Research has also shown that adolescents are more likely to emulate the conduct of individuals of the same gender. Therefore, counseling intervention should involve cognizance of the environment in which the individual grew up to offer effective psychological therapy.

Erikson’s Psychosocial Developmental Theory

Finally, Erikson’s theory in psychosocial development reinforces the need to believe that the adolescent experience builds on the previous stages and lays the groundwork for subsequent developmental periods. Erikson felt that humans encounter a conflict that acts as a turning point in their development at each stage. According to Erikson, these conflicts are concentrated on either growing or failing to develop a psychological trait (Kaiser 2020). Erikson argued that a feeling of competence stimulates behavior and action necessary as a motivating factor in one’s feeling of self-accomplishment. Each stage of Erikson’s theory is devoted to developing competence in a particular area of life. If the stage is managed well, the individual will have a feeling of mastery, which is sometimes referred to as ego strength or ego quality. If the stage is badly handled, the individual will emerge with an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy in that area of growth.

Erikson’s theory in psychosocial development emphasizes that counseling support should investigate the trends of growth for the adolescent and identify areas that might have negatively impacted their esteem. In this setting, both physical and cognitive development can be investigated as the process through which individuals observe, think, and comprehend their reality due to the combination of genetic and learned elements (Fusar‐Poli et al., 2021). Cognitive development encompasses a variety of domains, including information processing, intellect, reasoning, language development, and memory. Erikson’s theory recognizes the need for direct mentorship from teachers among the adolescent population who have experienced setbacks in their previous growth stages.

The Role of Teachers in Adolescent Care

In Erikson’s theory in psychosocial development, positive and negative criticism affects children’s perspectives, depending on whether the feedback is directed at the individual or the process. According to research on various feedback forms, children who get person-centered praise develop more fixed mindsets and exhibit maladaptive reactions to failure than those who receive process-centered praise (Fusar‐Poli et al., 2021). Culture may have a small but significant influence on the prevalence of certain attitudes (Kruger 2021). The current pedagogy emphasizes paying little attention to the need to cultivate the art of focused thinking that is not necessarily limited by the material world. Piaget’s theory concepts can help define the best counseling intervention based on the various world views among the adolescent.


Mental health management among adolescents is a critical aspect of psychiatric care. There is an apparent need for practical application of the theories considering the impact of improving counseling care quality among adolescents. Piaget’s theory of adolescent cognitive development provides a basis for mental care intervention that explores the imaginative capacity of the individual. Bowlby’s attachment theory focuses on the desire for care and connection among children and adolescents, providing insights on care in cases of parental neglect. Bandura’s social learning theory connects the immediate environment of the individual and their behavior through observation. Finally, Erikson’s psychosocial developmental theory provides guidance on proper counseling care based on the individual’s difficulties in their previous states of development. These theories have direct application to effective counseling intervention among the adolescent.


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