The eyes and ears with which we see and hear life are not the same from when we are born to when we grow older. Human perception plays a large part in our personalities and behavior. Because this perception is constantly changing, our psychological and emotional lives are always in flux. The study of developmental psychology is the scientific study that deals with these changes over the course of our lives.
Developmental psychology is often thought of in terms of having the greatest impact within three spheres of influence: social context, cultural context, and socioeconomic context. This is in contrast to the theory that most psychological and behavioral patterns in humans are innate, and that we are born with them. It is the classic nature versus nurture approach, and while one hundred per cent of emphasis should never go each way, it has been a major breakthrough in how we understand ourselves since developmental psychology has become more common place, not only in theory, but also in practical applications as well.
Many career training programs these days incorporate developmental psychology as part of their coursework. Faculties dealing with community studies are one example, with programs preparing students for careers in childcare, human resources, social services and educational assistants. Healthcare faculties also have many programs that teach developmental psychology. For example, someone attending a school of nursing will attend classes focusing on the theories of personality growth through developmental psychology.
What are some ways an aspiring nurse can actually take advantage of developmental psychology theory?
- Working in pre-natal maternity care, a nurse can assist a soon-to-be mother in preparing the right kind of household environment that will not only be healthy and safe, but will foster a positive and happy environment.
- Neo-natal care, where nurses may have to treat the baby for physical illness and injury, and where knowing the root cause of the problem may involve more than a physical mishap, but be related to the baby's attempting to grasp their reality in their environments.
- Early childhood and youth care, it is important for a nurse to be aware of influences outside the direct sphere of the parents and household, for this is a time when the cause of problems may not be fully understood by the patient or their caregivers. This actually becomes even more the case in adolescents and teenagers as well.
- Old age, here nurses are often working with patients who will constantly need assistance for the rest of their lives. Dealing with the psychological impact of palliative care and death can have major consequences on the health and comfort of the patient in these years.
Nursing is an extremely complicated and multi-faceted profession that works with every aspect of the individual's mental and physical life, and in every stage from birth to death. Getting a strong knowledge of developmental psychology from a nursing school can round off any technical and medical expertise to make a good practitioner also an intelligent and caring person.