A comparison between Gestalt and Jung Therapy

VKATZ Gestalt & Jung Therapy

Gestalt Therapy and Jung Therapy

“The medical treatment of transference gives the patient a priceless opportunity to withdraw his projections, to make good his losses and to integrate his personality” (Carl Jung- The Psychology of the Transference. CW 16. Par. 120).

The two modalities discussed in this essay are Gestalt therapy and Jungian therapy. A description of each modality, together with their historical background, key concepts, as well as similarities and differences in client-therapist relationship, and therapeutic goals, will be provided—finally, a summary detailing the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Gestalt theory

Gestalt theory focuses on how the client perceives reality and the idea that individuals are constantly learning about themselves, thereby reinventing (Corey et al., 2021). Instead of focusing on the past, Gestalt therapy requires the client to become aware of the present and, in doing so, promotes self-acceptance (Yontef, 1995).

Historical background of Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy was developed in 1940 by Fritz and Laura Perls. Perls was trained in psychoanalysis and was influenced by other philosophical and psychological approaches (Frew, 2016). Wilhelm Reich’s interest in non-verbal communication influenced Perls and Sigmund Friedlander’s idea of polarities. (Frew, 2016). Kurt Goldstein, like Friedlander, believed that people moved towards creating balance. In doing so, they acclimatize to the environment. The purpose is self-actualization (Bowman & Nevis, 2005). According to Parlett and Lee (2005), Field theory states that a person’s behavior is understood in relation to their perception of the reality of their environment, which also impacted Gestalt theory together with Jan Smuts’s theory of Holism (Yontef & Jacobs, 2019).

Key concepts of Gestalt Therapy

According to Corey et al. (2021), the fundamental principles that underpin Gestalt therapy are holism, field theory, the figure formation process, and orgasmic self-regulation. Field theory requires an understanding of what occurs between the boundary of the individual and the environment. It is essential to look at figure and ground. The figure is things that are relevant at any moment, whereas the ground represents aspects that the client may not be aware of. The background is analyzed through the non-verbal gestures of the client. Figure formation is when the background information starts becoming the focal point. A Gestalt therapist aims to move this attention towards and away from this figure. Orgasmic Self-Regulation is when there is an imbalance in the equilibrium because of a need. Humans can navigate through these stages of imbalance to restore equilibrium (Corey et al., 2021).


A further concept of Gestalt therapy is awareness; there are three ways a client can achieve awareness through therapy (Sharf, 2012):

  • Contact

Contact is necessary for every individual. The challenge is to engage with the various elements without losing oneself (Sharf, 2012).

Contact Boundaries

Although contact is a necessary and healthy process, individuals may employ contact boundaries to assist in coping with life. Contact boundaries can be both positive and negative. Gestalt therapists view these boundaries as disturbances and have identified five. Introjection is when an individual accepts the beliefs of others without consideration of their alignment with their own. Projection occurs when an individual sees undesirable characteristics of themselves in others without owning such traits. Retroflection is when individuals do things to themselves that they wish to others. Deflection is when there is a distraction from a situation that may feel uncomfortable, and confluence occurs when individual tries to maintain peace by avoiding conflict (Sharf, 2012). According to Sharf (2012), these methods weaken or diminish contact.

  • The Present

According to Gestalt therapists, considering the individual in the present moment is essential. However, they do look at how the past affects the present. Examining the past is termed unfinished business and refers to aspects that have not been dealt with (Joyce & Sills, 2001). These feelings are given closure in the present (Sharf, 2012). Unfinished business could be in the form of blocked energy. This blockage can surface in defensive behavior, such as tension in various body parts (Corey et al., 2021).

  • Growth Disorders

These are emotional problems that people have due to a lack of awareness. They do not network with the environment resulting in difficulties (Seligman, 2006).

Jungian Therapy

Jungian therapy is a psychoanalytic approach developed by Carl Jung. Jung’s interest in philosophy, theology, mythology, and anthropology was widespread (Sharf, 2012).

Historical background of Jung therapy

Jung was influenced by Immanuel Kant, who believed that people did not see reality for what it is but instead as something that is influenced by the collective unconscious (Sharf, 2012). Carl Gustav Carus and Eduard von Hartmann’s concept of the universal unconscious also influenced Jung’s personality theory (Sharf, 2012). Jung was also influenced by anthropologists, including Adolf Bastian, who believed that likeness in psychologies of individuals could be understood by examining rituals, rites, and mythologies of specific cultures (Sharf, 2012). While studying word association, Franz Riklin and Jung developed the concept of the complex. Complexes are words that represent unconscious memories that impact people’s lives. Although Jung credits many of his ideas to Freud, he did have hesitations about Freud’s basic theory of sexuality (Sharf, 2012). During Jung’s time of exploration, he befriended Richard Wilhelm, an expert in Chinese writing and folklore (Stein, 2005).

Key Concepts of Jungian Therapy

Jungian therapy is based on the premise of an integration of the conscious and unconscious, which Jung termed, individuation (Corey, 2021).

Levels of Consciousness

According to Sharf (2012), Jung identified three levels of consciousness. The conscious level is the only level that individuals know and grow from birth. Individuation occurs as the individual grows and sees oneself as complete and different from others. At the centre is the ego. The personal unconscious store’s everything that is not allowed by the ego. Conflicts and unresolved issues are part of the personal unconscious and are repressed; however, they can manifest themselves in the form of dreams. The collective unconscious is the universal way that we see the world. According to Jung, specific thoughts and ideas can be inherited; he referred to these as archetypes.


Jungian therapy engages the unconscious with the conscious, these unconscious elements he referred to as archetypes (Geils, 2011).

Although there is no limit, Jung identified four main archetypes (Geils, 2011). The persona is the mask we wear to function. If the persona is given too much value, there will be a lack of genuine emotion (Sharf, 2012). The Anima and Animus, where the anima represents the female parts in the male mind, and the animus is the male parts in the female psyche. Jung believed that each must be willing to express the anima and animus to have a balanced personality. To know the self requires an individual to be in touch with both the conscious and unconscious; Jung employed dream analysis and spiritual and religious experiences to understand the unconscious (Sharf, 2012). The shadow is the dark personality trait that our conscious is unaware of.

Similarities and Differences of the Client-Therapist Relationship

According to Sedgwick (2001), Jungian psychotherapy requires participants to meet equally with no power given to the therapist. Jung saw that the personalities of both as fluid, resulting in healing for the patient and transformation for the therapist. Emphasis was placed on personal rather than technical seeking to unlock the unconscious. This is in contrast with Gestalt therapy, where therapists must set aside their personal biases to be cognisant of the present. Another difference is that Jungian therapy employs assessment methods such as remoralization, remediation and rehabilitation to understand the client’s progression (Howard et al., 1993), whereas Gestalt therapy uses various exercises and role-play such as empty chair or reversal technique (Day & Matthes, 1992).

Similarities and Differences in Therapeutic goals

Gestalt therapy aims to reduce the need for environmental support and increase self-support. This is similar to Jungian therapy; the goal is to separate parental influence so that the individual can evolve by becoming cognizant of unconscious thoughts (Day & Matthes, 1992). Both modalities recognize the need to purge projection for awareness to increase. Perls uses the empty chair technique to express introjects, whereas Jung encourages the ability of clients to be critical of parents and the environment that they have internalized (Day & Matthes, 1992). The difference is that Gestalt therapy focuses on the here and now, and Jungian therapy focuses on the psyche in totality (Sharf, 2012).




Strengths and Weakness Gestalt Therapy

According to Frew (2013), this approach can work well with clients from culturally diverse backgrounds because it considers the client’s context. Another advantage is that Gestalt experiments can be adapted to the perceptions of the clients’ culture (Corey, 2021). However, the weakness is that the experiments can become highly emotional, which could pose a block to clients from cultures where showing emotion is taboo (Corey, 2021). Another weakness is that although Perls stressed self-support as indicating maturity, he never defined self-support. According to Shepard (1975, p.120), a colleague commented that Perls emphasis on self-support could indicate his unresolved issue centered around dependency (Day & Matthes, 1992).

Strengths and Weakness Jungian therapy

According to Geils (2011), a strength of Jungian psychology is that it works well with African traditional healers who are religious as it understands both religion and psychology. Jung’s concept of individuation can also be seen as a strength in the form of freedom however can also be viewed as elitism which requires years of training and therapy and lots of money (Tacey, 2010).


In understanding Gestalt and Jungian therapy, preference is swayed towards Jungian therapy. From a psychological framework, Jung’s theory is holistic when considering each aspect of an individual, and it employs techniques to monitor progress (Howard et al., 1993).


Bowman, C. E., & Nevis, E. C. (2005). The history and development of Gestalt therapy. In A.


  1. Woldt & S. M. Toman (Eds.), Gestalt therapy: History, theory, and practice (pp. 3-


20). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Bronwell, P. (2016). Gestalt therapy. In I. Marini & M. A. Stebnicki (Eds.), The professional


            counsellor desk reference (2nd ed., pp. 241-245). New York: Springer.


Corey, G., Nicholas, L.J., & Bawa, U. (2021). Theory and practice of counselling and


            psychotherapy (3rd SA ed., Ch. 8). Cengage Learning.


Day, B., & Matthes, W. (1992). A comparison of Jungian, person-centred, and Gestalt


approaches to the personal growth groups. The Journal for Specialists in Group work


            17(2), 105-115


Frew, J. (2016). Gestalt therapy: Creatively adjusting in an increasingly diverse world.


Gestalt Review, 20(2), 106-128.


Geils, C. (2011). Jungian analysts and African diviners: An exploration of the archetype of


the self. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 21(3), 357-360.


Howard, K. I., Lueger, R. J., Maling, M. S., & Martinovich, Z. (1993). A phase model of


psychotherapy outcome: Causal mediation of change. Journal of Consulting and


            Clinical Psychology61(4), 678–685.


Joyce, P., & Sills, C. (2001). Skills in Gestalt counselling and Psychotherapy. London: Sage.


Partett, M., & Lee, R. G. (2005). Contemporary Gestalt therapy: Field Theory. In A.


  1. Woldt & S. M. Toman (Eds.), Gestalt therapy: History, theory, and practice (pp.


41-63). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Sedgwick, D. (2001). Introduction to Jungian Psychotherapy: The Therapeutic Relationship


(1st ed.). Routledge.


Seligman, L. (2006). Theories of counselling and psychotherapy: Systems, strategies, and


            skills. (2nd Ed). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Ltd.


Sharf, R. (2012). Jungian analysis and therapy. Theories of psychotherapy and counseling:


            Concepts and cases (5th ed., Ch. 3 pp. 82-122). Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.




Sharf, R. (2012). Gestalt therapy: An experiential therapy. Theories of psychotherapy and


            counseling: Concepts and cases (5th ed., Ch. 7). Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.


Tacy, D. (2010). Cosmos/culture/clinic: The moves and ideas of archetypal psychology. A


            long and pleasant conversation. Panel presentation at the International Association


for Analytical Psychology Congress. Montreal, Canada


Yontef, G. (1995). Gestalt therapy. In A. S. Guurman & S. B. Messer (Eds.), Essential


            psychotherapies: Theory and practice (pp. 261-303). New York: Guilford Press.











read more

Attention and Memory

VKATZ Attention & Memory

Attention and Memory

“The secret to good memory is attention, and attention to a subject depends upon our interest in it. We rarely forget that which has made a deep impression on our minds” (Edwards, 2011).

Memory coding and memory retrieval are based on the idea that the environment is filled with different stimuli. It is imperative to understand attention and the principles that aid memory because of attention (Long et al., 2018). This essay will outline critical theories in attention and memory and the key concepts governing ADHD in South Africa.


The essay will begin by discussing the critical theorists and concepts of attention.

Donald Broadbent

According to Ipser et al. (2016), the foundation of theories of attention is grounded in information-processing models of attention. Although the environment is saturated with stimuli, selective attention occurs. Donald Broadbent was a forerunner in attention research. He saw attention in two stages. The first is when channels are identified for their particular characteristics, like volume. The second is when the selective filter allows only one of the channels to be processed. This became known as the Filter Theory of Attention (Ipser et al., 2016).

Broadbent validated this through the Dichotic Listening task (Isper et al., 2016). In this task, individuals used headphones, and two sets of numbers were played in each ear. They were then asked to repeat the numbers. The finding was that individuals found it easier to repeat the numbers when they were played in each ear. Furthermore, the fewer times the channels were switched, the easier the task became (Isper et al., 2016).

The Dichotic Listening task was further adapted to include shadowing. Shadowing is when individuals are instructed to listen to the message in one ear (attended) while ignoring the message in the other ear (unattended). Although the participants were aware of the attended message, they could still differentiate the characteristics of the unattended message (Eysenk & Keane, 2010).

According to Isper et al. (2016), although Broadbent’s theory postulates that people can focus on one channel when no shadowing is present, some people could remember short sentences or a list of numbers played on the other ear. Broadbent explained this by saying that stimuli are stored in the sensory-motor store and can be retrieved because not too much time has passed.

According to Cherry (1953), the Cocktail party effect, which allows an individual in conversation to give attention to another conversation, invalidates Broadbent’s idea of a selective filter. Gray and Wedderburn (1960) criticized Broadbent’s theory; instead of only using numbers, they included words. They asked participants to repeat what they heard either ear by ear or category-by-category. They found that categorization was more manageable, which questions Broadbent’s theory.

Anne Treisman

According to Ipser et al. (2016), Treisman’s attenuation theory of attention argued that although people ignore unattended channels, in certain circumstances, retrieval can occur. According to Treisman and Gelade (1980), Treisman’s feature-integration theory assisted in understanding the pop-out effect. The target stimulus pops out when the stimuli and the distractor fluctuate by one element. However, if there are many differences, it will take longer to detect the target stimulus as it requires resources for processing. Feature integration theory was criticized for not taking into account visual tasks (Duncan & Humphreys, 1989).

Duncan’s theory of selective visual attention

According to Duncan (1984), this theory requires objects to be analyzed. It seeks to explain how participants were shown two overlapping shapes and can choose to focus on one while ignoring the other. Object-oriented attention theorists state that the stimulus is immediately categorized into objects during the first stage based on things like similarities (Ipser, 2016). Deutche and Deutche (1963) propose that even though the information may be processed, only what is selected will be stored in memory.

Eysenke and Keane (2010) saw attention taking two forms; bottom-up control of attention is a response to a stimulus that might be important for the individual; an example could be the cocktail effect, top-down control of attention is that which you have control over. Although these theorists suggest a single attention system, Posner and Boies (1971) acknowledged three factors: the alerting, orienting, and executive system.


According to the Cambridge Dictionary of American English (1999), memory is the ability to remember. The following will discuss theories and key concepts surrounding memory.

Information Processing Approach (IP)

Researchers debated the concepts of IP, shifting towards wanting to understand the process of what we remember and when. According to the IP approach, memory consists of three stages, input, storage, and output (Groom, 1999). Short-term (STM) and long-term (LTM) memory became known as the two-store model of memory (Baddeley, 2007). Lezak et al. (2012) postulated that STM keeps information for seconds unless practiced. On the other hand, LTM contains all life’s experiences and is essentially unlimited (Holt et al., 2012). According to Ipser (2016), LTM can be divided into two, memories that influence present behavior but are not consciously recalled are called implicit memory. Explicit memory is the conscious recollection of facts and can be divided into Episodic memories that have occurred at a specific time and place; sematic, which stores information about the past, and gist memory. Working memory is located at the intersection of memory and attention, and it allows for the keeping and manipulation of information in the seconds after sensory information has gone (Long et al., 2018). Working memory is distinguished by its restricted capacity and different stores for different types of information, such as different phonological and visual-spatial stores (Baddeley, 2003).

The brain’s role in attention and information processing

The hippocampus is known to play a vital role in episodic memory. Recent research from healthy controls and amnesic patients has shown that it is also involved in implicit memory (Squire & Zola-Morgan, 1991). The occipitotemporal cortex is vital in selecting what information encodes since it enables basic sensory processing of incoming information (Long et al., 2018). The prefrontal cortex aids cognitive control processes by biasing processing in posterior regions. Such top-down biasing acts serve to direct perceptual and reflective attention (Miller & Cohen, 2001).

ADHD in a South African context

According to the American Psychiatric Association (1994), Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity symptoms. This neurological disorder can present itself during a child’s early developmental stage (Roth et al., 2017). Information regarding ADHD in South Africa is limited but can be estimated at between 5% and 10%; it is also suggested that early detection is vital because of its negative characteristics (Schellak & Meyer, 2016). Midlander et al. (2020) notes that attention is essential for success in school, and children with ADHD may find it difficult to follow and complete tasks reducing their success rate in a school environment (Roth et al., 2017). The World Health Organisation has developed the Adult ADHD Self Report Scale (ASRS), a test that can be done to assess ADHD. The limitation is that although this test is available for many languages of the west, it does not cater to South Africa, which has 11 official languages (Campbell & Young, 2016).


The ability to retrieve memory impacts what is remembered in the future, and it can also be noted from this essay that for successful retrieval, there needs to be undivided attention with little or no distractions (Dudukovic et al., 2099). Memory is a perceptual construct, and although the emphasis is placed on accuracy, Edwards and Potter (1995) argue that this is an impossibility as there is no record of the original event. Therefore, in my opinion, memory is selective according to the need of each individual.




American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental


            Diseases (DSM-IV), (4TH ed). Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Publishing.



Baddeley, A.D. (2007). Working memory Thought and Action. Oxford: Oxford University




Bornman, J., & Donohue, D. (2013). South African Teachers’ Attitudes toward Learners with


Barriers to Learning: Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and little or no


Functional speech. International Journal of Disability, Development Education60(2),




Campbell, M.M., & Young, C. (2016). A Xhosa language translation of the CORE-OM using


South African university samples. Transcult Psychiatry, 53(5), 654-573.


Cherry, E.C. (1953). Some experiments on the recognition of speech, with one and with two


Ears. Journal of Acoustic Society of America, 25, 975-979.



Deutsche, J. A. & Deutsche, D. (1963). Attention: Some theoretical considerations.


Psychological Review, 70, 80-90.


Dudukovic, N.M., DuBrow, S. & Wagner, A.D. (2009). Attention during memory retrieval


Enhances future remembering. Memory & Cognition 37, 953–961.


Duncan, J. (1984). Selective attention and the organisation of visual information. Journal of


Experimental Psychology, 113(4), 501-517.


Duncan, J., & Humphreys, G. W. (1989). Visual search and stimulus similarity.


Psychological Review, 96(3), 433-458.


Edwards, D., & Potter, J. (1995). Remembering. In R. Harre & P. Stearns (Eds.), Discursive


Psychology in practice. London: Sage


Eysenck, M.W. & Keane, M.T. (2010). Cognitive Psychology (6th ed.). New York:


Psychology Press.


Gray, J., & Wedderburn, A. (1960). Grouping strategies with simultaneous stimuli. Quarterly


            Journal of Experimental Psychology, 12, 180-184.


Groome, D. (1999). An introduction to Cognitive Psychology: Process and Disorders.


London: Psychology Press.


Holt, N., Bremner, A., Sutherland, E., Vliek, M., Passer, M., & Smith, R. (2012).


Psychology: The science of mind and behaviour (2nd ed.). London: McGraw-Hill


Ipser, J. (2016). Attention. In Swartz, L., de la Rey, C., Duncan, N., Townsend, L.,


O’Neill, V. (Eds.), Psychology: An introduction (Ch. 12). Oxford University Press


Southern Africa.


Lezak, M.D., Howieson, D.B., Bigler, E.D., & Tranel, D. (2012). Neuropsychological


            assessment (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.


Long, N., Kuhl, B., & Chun, M. (2018). Memory and Attention: Steven’s Handbook of


Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience 1(1), (1-37). John Wiley &


Sons, Inc


Midlander, M., Schall, R., Bruin, E., & Smuts-Craft, M. (2020). Prevalence of ADHD


symptoms and their association with learning-related skills in Grade one children in


South Africa. South African Journal of Association 40(3), 1-7.


Miller, E.K., & Cohen, J.D. (2001). An integrative theory of prefrontal cortex function.


Annual Review of Neuroscience, 24(1), 167-202.


Regnart, J., Truter, I., & Meyer, A. (2020). Translation of the Adult Attention-


Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Self-Report Scale into an African Language: An


Exploratory Study. Psychiatric Quarterly91(4), 1371–1379.


Roth, K., Zittel, L., Pyfer. J., & Auxter, D. (2017). Principles and methods of adapted


            Physical education and recreation (12th ed). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett



Schellack. N., & Meyer, H. (2012). The management of attention deficit-hyperactivity


Disorder in children. The South Africa Pharmaceutical Journal, 79(10), 12-20.


Squire, L.R., & Zola-Morgan, S. (1991). The medial temporal lobe memory system. Science,


            253(5026), 1380-1386.


Treisman, A.M., & Gelade, G. (1980). A feature-integration theory of attention. Cognitive


            Psychology, 12(1), 97-136.


Van Ommen, C. (2016). Memory. In Swartz, L., de la Rey, C., Duncan, N., Townsend, L., &


O’Neill, V. (Eds.), Psychology: An introduction (Ch. 13). Oxford    University Press


Southern Africa.

read more

Social Media is Important in Higher Education

VKATZ Social media in higher education

“The only “good learning” is that which is in advance of development” (Vygotsky, 1978, p89). According to Ansari et al. (2020), as technological advances increase to accommodate the existing environment, there has been a dramatic shift towards online learning in higher education. This transference has mobilized the way information is processed. Social media has become a significant component in the lives of individuals. Therefore, the integration of social networks into higher education is, naturally, the next step toward progression. Social media allows for increased access to institutions, a collaborative learning framework, and a platform for professional learners to reach their intended clients (Ansari et al., 2020).

The significance of social network platforms in higher education has become evident over the past two years as the world continues to battle the Covid 19 pandemic. The dramatic shift from face-to-face learning to online has made it possible for students to continue with their learning undisrupted (Tessa, 2020). This essay will argue that social media is essential in higher education. Even though opposing views see this integration as a hindrance, this essay will undoubtedly maintain that social media in higher education provides more benefits than burdens.

Social media is vital in higher education because it provides equal access to education, which allows for professional development. According to Cahn et al. (2013); Krutka et al. (2017); Trust et al. (2017) (as cited by Luo et al., 2020), with the incorporation of social media in higher education, many learners that were previously excluded from pursuing professional development as a result of restraints such as location or work commitments, can now benefit from a more mobilized solution. Additionally, due to its vast network, learners worldwide can share their knowledge without considering the distance (Luo et al., 2020). As a result, the collective knowledge brought into the community is so vast and rich that it can only prove to be beneficial for the learner (Luo et al., 2020). It is essential to point out that as opposed to the traditional classroom structure of learning, online education requires fewer resources and has fewer expenses making it more affordable. The result is that more people will have access due to affordability (Tesar 2020).

The second reason supporting the importance of social media in higher education is that it provides the learner with a collaborative, creative, and supportive framework. Such an atmosphere will provide a healthy and rewarding learning environment. Ansari and Khan (2020) conducted an empirical-based study with 360 students that looked at how they perceived the use of social media in collaborative learning. The results showed that there was better interaction between students, peers, and teachers due to the use of social media. It also revealed that students’ participation increased because of sharing knowledge online. This engagement led to better academic results. Additional to their findings was that there were signs of increased creativity amongst the students.

McLoughlin and Lee (2010, as cited in Tess, 2013) used Vygotsky’s (1978) Social Constructivism to explain the need for social media in higher education. Online learning encourages participation from learners; this creates a collaborative environment that fosters support amongst the community. Each learner is responsible for their learning progress. The combination of support and cooperation from peers and teachers will result in more robust academic achievements. Furthermore, on this point, according to Luo et al. (2020), Bandura’s (1977) social learning theory can explain development through learning on social media. The theory postulates that learners model their behaviors according to their observations. With social media, which is an interactive platform, learners can learn with and from each other, thereby providing a collaborative space.

Furthermore, finally, social media is essential in higher education because it can provide a framework for professional learners (medical students) to engage with potential clients, reach their desired audience, and share information with their peers (Harrison et al., 2014). According to Agazio and Buckley (2009); Green and Hope (2010); Schmitt and Lilly (2012), (as cited by Fenwick, 2016), professional presence on social media can reach clients or patients who may traditionally not have access to these professionals. These students can also create peer group communities with other students, both locally and internationally, to discuss challenges and conduct peer consultations. In this way, information can spread faster and more efficiently. Dodsworth et al. (2012, as cited by Fenwick, 2016) also support social media in higher education, reiterating that clients who live in remote areas can now benefit from these professionals due to social networks.

In Fenwick’s (2013) exploratory article, he found that professionals are using social networking sites, such as Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and YouTube, to name a few, to share information. When these platforms are utilized to disseminate information, professional students can build a community around themselves, significantly benefiting their future practice. As outlined above, the importance of social media in higher education is undeniable.

Although there is substantial evidence to prove that social media in higher education is imperative, there are opposing views that state that the presence of social media in higher education is not necessary and can be detrimental to the learner.

The first argument is that although social media widens accessibility for the students, the shift to online instruction will encounter resistance from the teachers’ perspective. According to Donelan (2015, as cited by Sá, 2020), resistance from the teaching faculty could result from not having the appropriate skills. It is crucial to remember that most senior faculty staff are elder and possibly technologically challenged. Because of this, social media in higher education will meet resistance. Although this may seem like a valid point, Manaca and Ranieri’s (2016, as cited by Sá, 2020) research stresses the importance of ensuring that staff is adequately trained to meet the digital requirements of the current times.

Moreover, Rowan – Kenyon and Martinez Alema’n (2016, as cited by Sá, 2020) state that because today’s learners are already engrossed in social media, having access to this in higher education will influence whether or not learners will enroll at an institution. Although institutions may never be ahead of social media developments, they must embrace the move as this is what today’s learners are looking for. For institutions to remain competitive, including e-learning in tertiary education is imperative (Sá, 2020).

Another opposing argument is that despite the collaborative nature of social media in higher education, it does not encourage debate, which is vital for learning (Tess, 2013). Learners feel pressure to put their work out there for fear of being judged (Sá, 2020). To refute this argument, Madge et al. (2009, as cited by Tess, 2013) conclude on the points above by saying that when social media is combined with academics, there should be a course that teaches learners how to navigate ethically.

Finally, another reason that opposes social media in higher education is that there may be a distortion of the professional identity with the personal identity. There is also the concern that confidential information could be exposed on their social platforms as well as bad behavior on the part of the learner, which could jeopardize their careers once they are qualified (Harrison et al., 2014). Although these may be viewed as valid points, MacDonald et al. (2010) say that social media is here to stay, and thus finding ways to control and regulate its use among medical students is essential. This, however, is the task of the educators and regulators. Harrison et al. (2014) suggest that professional courses be created to teach these learners what is and what is not appropriate for social media.

Misbehaviours of students on social media do not negate the fact that the social platforms have provided learners with endless opportunities for growth and development. As highlighted, these opposing arguments can be easily remedied with education.

The accessibility of social media in higher education is fundamental to the development of learners. It fosters advancements in career development, it rears a positive environment that is pro learning, and it can benefit the community at large because important information can be disseminated. It is, without a doubt, crucial in higher education; therefore, institutions need to ensure that they are equipped to meet this changing environment.




Ansari, J. A. N., & Khan, N. A. (2020). Exploring the role of social media in collaborative learning the new domain of learning. Smart Learning                                Environments, 7(1).

Fenwick, T. (2016). Social media, professionalism and higher education:  a sociomaterial consideration. Studies in Higher Education, 41(1), 664-677.

Gierth, L., & Bromme, R. (2020). Attacking science on social media: How user comments affect perceived trustworthiness and credibility. Public                                      Understanding of Science, 29(2), 230–247.

Harrison, B., Gill, J., & Jalali, A. (2014). Social Media Etiquette for the Modern Medical Student: A Narrative Review. International Journal of Medical Students2(2), 64–67.

Luo, T., Freeman, C., & Stefaniak, J. (2020). “Like, comment, and share”—   professional development through social media in higher education: A                           systematic review. Educational Technology Research & Development, 68(4),  1659–  1683.

MacDonald, J., Sohn, S., & Ellis, P. (2010). Privacy, professionalism and Facebook: a dilemma for young doctors. Medical education44(8), 805–813.

Mansfield, S., Morrion, S., Stephens, H., Bonning, M., Wang, S., Withers, J. (2011).  Social media and the medical profession. Medical Journal Australia, 194(12),               642-4.

Sá, M. J., Serpa, S., Ferreira, C. M., & Santos, A. I. (2020). Social Media Centrality in  Identity (Re)construction in Higher Education. Journal of Educational and Social Research10(1), 11.

Tess, P. A. (2013). The role of social media in higher education classes (real and virtual)–A literature review. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(5), A60- A68.

Tesar, M. (2020). Towards a Post-Covid-19 ‘New Normality?’: Physical and Social  Distancing, the Move to Online and Higher Education. Policy Futures in  Education, 18(5), 556–559.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological  Processes (Revised ed.). Harvard University Press

read more

Erik Erikson : Understanding stages of development

Erik Erikson

Erik Erikson (1902-1994)

“Children accruing ego identity gain real strength only from wholehearted and consistent recognition of real accomplishments, that is, an achievement that has meaning in their culture.” Erikson (1959, p. 95)

Erik Erikson was a pioneer when it came to understanding personality theory that encompassed the entire lifespan. Swartz et al., (2016)

As a child, Erikson experienced many childhood struggles due to the relationship between his Jewish mother and an unknown Danish father. When anti sematic beliefs were rife in Germany, Erikson found himself an outcast. Because of his appearance, he did not fit in. This could have led to a degree of an identity issue that would explain his lifestyle. Fleming (2004)

Although Freud influenced Erikson, they differed in that Erikson saw a need to expand further.

Erikson’s theory is based on eight stages of development instead of Freud’s five stages. The difference between the two is that Erikson saw development as something that occurs through the life span of an individual, whereas Freud stopped at adolescence. Erikson saw personality development as a consequence of social interactions, in contrast to Freud, who based development on the psychosexual process.

According to Erikson, the individual will encounter inevitable crises at each stage of development. The individual can resolve these conflicts and progress to the next stage. If the conflict goes unresolved, this could lead to personality problems in the child and later in adulthood. Fleming (2004).


How does Psychology help to understand people’s behavior

The task of life is to find personal identity, or as Erikson (1958) states, a quest for identity. A person will have a positive identity if that person has moved through each stage, ensuring the resolution of the crises. However, failure can lead to interpersonal conflict. Erikson (1968).

Social identity theory proposes that individuals define themselves according to their group. If the group provides stability, recognition, and growth, this leads to positive psychological effects; however, the opposite will result if the group does not provide for the needs of the individual. Haslam et al., (2009)

Erikson’s Eight Stages of Development

Erikson viewed development as occurring through eight stages that span an individual’s life. During each phase, the individual will experience a series of crises. If the individual overcomes these challenges, a strong foundation will be established to move on to the next milestone. However, if the needs are not met or progression is hindered, the individual will experience conflict that will manifest in childhood and adulthood. It is also important to note that reparative steps could be taken to address these issues resulting in personality changes. Fleming (2018).

Although there are eight stages for this essay and in line with the course, I will discuss the first three stages.

First Stage: Trust versus Mistrust

The first stage is Trust versus Mistrust. This occurs from birth to a year old. During this phase, the infant requires consistent love and attention from the caregiver. The infant learns to trust that the basic needs will be met through this. If the caregiver is neglectful, mistrust is instilled. The infant will either gain hope or weaken through withdrawal due to mistrust. Fleming (2018).

As stated by Jean Piaget, if a parent fails to provide the infant with primary care during the “sensory-motor” stage, the foundation of trust will not be present. As a result, this child may display signs of internal hopelessness as an adult. Erskine (2019).

Later in adult life, the individual might have difficulties trusting people, looking for the slightest inconsistency to prove their mistrust. On the other hand, if the infant’s needs are met at this developmental stage, that individual may see such inconsistencies as normal. Erskine (2015b).

Bowlby stressed the importance of early relationships with attachment figures. Infants use this as a gauge that provides them with an understanding of how acceptable or unacceptable they are to these figures. When an adult displays signs of insecure attachments, this could result from interference in bonding. Bowlby (1973).

Fraiberg’s research also showed that when infants experience disturbance in this stage, they create survival techniques such as freezing the body or turning their face away. To a mild extent, we may see this in adults, resulting from the relationship bond being broken. Fraiberg (1983).


Second Stage: Autonomy versus Shame

The second stage is Autonomy Versus Shame and occurs from one to three years of age. The toddler begins learning how to walk, talk, and control bowel movements at this juncture. A sense of autonomy begins because the toddler can now do things for herself/himself. However, parents may be impatient with the toddler. This leads to shame. If the toddler is met with patience and understanding, he/she will develop will; the antitheses is a compulsion. Fleming (2018).

In adulthood, the results could manifest as self-doubt. Erikson (1959).


Third Stage: Initiative versus Guilt

The third stage is Initiative Versus Guilt and occurs from three to six years. Erikson accepts Freud’s Oedipal factors; however, he expands by recognizing social factors. The child imitates the same-sex parent but then sees the parent as competition. The initiative is defined through imitation and exploring different capabilities. Fleming (2018).

According to Erskine (2019), this phase is characterized by the child engaging in imaginary play, and there is a sense of increased autonomy as the child self directs.

If the parents dampen the child’s process, guilt settles in. If the child is encouraged and the parent entertains the process, the child will find purpose. The opposite outcome will be inhibition.

As you can see, absence in development in each stage leads to disrupted personality behaviors that manifest in childhood and adulthood.


Psychology in the South African Context

It is important to note that unlike the western individualistic approach to understanding development, the Social ontogenetic approach purports that the self is realized in relation to the community. Nsamenang (2006).

According to Nsamanang (1992), the life cycle of African people can be seen in three phases, spiritual selfhood, social selfhood, and death. Development through each stage is defined according to a cultural perspective.

Social identity can either have a positive or negative effect on the individual and can explain behavior towards the social constructs. As Haslam et al., (2009) state, a group identifies themselves in relation to another group. They can be seen as either “superior” or “inferior.” If the group is seen as “inferior” or of low status, the individual may want to permeate to the “superior” group to avoid stigmatizing. If this move cannot be achieved, social creativity is adopted. This can be achieved through refusal to accept the inferiority of the group or to produce a social change that will improve the ingroup. Branscombe et al., (1999).

During Apartheid, black and white people were exposed to radically different living experiences. The black people were marginalized, they suffered poverty, the children were given poor education, and there was forced removal from their living spaces. Many family units were broken due to needing to find work outside of their designated living areas. This resulted in the socio-economic degradation of the black communities. Richter (1994).

Because the black people of South Africa had the struggle in common, they identified strongly with their social groups, strengthening their cultural identity. Stevens and Lockhat (1997).


In my opinion, psychology played an important role in South African history. Social change came in the form of political action which improved black people’s social status.


In my view, understanding personality and behavior requires a holistic view that includes all aspects that influence the individual. A one-sided bias would have an adverse result on the treatment plan.

I enjoyed studying Erik Erickson’s perspective on development because I believe that we evolve in our lives, circumstances may change, and reparations of past trauma occur. All of these changes affect our behavior and personality. To believe that we stop developing means that we stop growing, and that, in my view, is naïve.




Erskine, R. G. (2019). Child development in integrative psychotherapy: Erik

Erikson’s first three stages. International Journal of Integrative Psychotherapy, 10, 11-34.


Nsamenang, A. B. (2006). Human ontogenesis: An indigenous African view on

development and intelligence. International Journal of Psychology, 41(4), 293-297.


Fleming, J. S. (2004). Erikson’s psychosocial developmental stages.


Townsend, L., Mayekiso, T., & Ntshangase, S. (2016). Early and middle childhood.


In L. Swartz, C. de la Rey, N. Duncan, L. Townsend, & V. O’Neill (Eds.), Psychology: An

introduction (4th ed. Ch. 3). Oxford University Press Southern Africa.


Haslam, S.A., Jetten, J., Postmes, T., & Haslam, C. (2009). Social Identity, Health

and Well-being: An Emerging Agenda for Applied Psychology. Applied Psychology: An

 International  Review, 58(1), 1-23


Thom, D. P., & Coetzee, C. H. (2004). Identity development of South African adolescents in a democratic society. Society in Transition35(1), 183–193.

Erikson, E. H. (1959). Identity and the life cycle. Psychological Issues, 1, 18 -171

Erskine, R. G. (2015b). The script system: An unconscious organization of evidence. In R. G. Erskine (Ed.) Relational patterns, therapeutic presence: Concepts and practice of integrative psychotherapy. 73-89. London: Karnac Books


Fraiberg, S. (1983). Pathological defenses in infancy. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 51, 612-635.

Richter, L. (1994). Economic stress and the influence on the family and caretaking patterns. Dawes, D & Donald, D. (Eds). Childhood & Adversity. 28-50. David Philip Cape Town

Branscombe, N. R., Schmitt, M. T., & Harvey, R. D. (1999). Perceiving pervasive discrimination among African-Americans: Implications for group identification and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 135-149

Erikson, E. H. (1958). Young man Luther: A study in Psychoanalysis and history. New York, NY: Norton

Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York, NY: Norton

read more