Monday, July 6, 2009

Why it is important to consider the individual, family, community, cultural, school, and societal factors when counseling children and adolescents.


The individuality, family, community, cultural background, school and other societal factors must be deliberated when counseling children and adolescent. Social ecology provides a framework for viewing difficult issues involving individual and family adjustment to societal change, including adjustments faced by individuals who have developmental disabilities and their families (Berry, 1995).


Bronfenbrenner’s theory is levels of environment that has effect on a child’s growth. There are five the levels or structure of environments:

1. Microsystem - Consisting of the child’s most immediate environment (physically, socially and psychologically), this core entity stands as the child’s venue for initially learning about the world (Swick and Williams, 2006). The child’s family has foremost influence on his development from his birth towards nurturing of their parents and siblings where they build their most trust. They way how his parents nurtured the child through their parent’s belief and culture have effect on child’s development.

2. Exosystems are the contexts we experience vicariously and yet they have a direct impact on us. They can be empowering (as a high quality child-care program is for the entire family) or they can be degrading (as excessive stress at work is on the total family ecology) (Swick and Williams, 2006). These are factors outside of child’s family and yet they are surrounded and influence indirectly with (work environment of parents) or without social interaction (child care). A child who has a janitor as his father’s (or parent's) job has a different influence with another child who has a Chief Executive Officer father (or parent)

3. Macrosystem - The larger systems of cultural beliefs, societal values, political trends, and ‘‘community happenings’’ act as a powerful source of energy in our lives. The macrosystems we live in influence what, how, when and where we carry out our relations (Bronfenbrenner, 2005). The society (media, country’s culture, education and neighborhood) brings out how a child perceive himself and how he can relate to all his surroundings and in the long run connect with the norms of a certain social order (populace).

4. Mesosytems connects any of these levels such as when a family member joins a certain religious group and eventually affecting the child’s environment. For instance, a child is affected by what his church or religious Sunday school teacher tells him to believe or do.

5. Chronosystems is the long-standing evolution on a combination of all these structure of environment and their family history. A good example of these is the unexpected death in a family.


Counselors should understand the situations and environment when counseling children and adolescents sequentially to relate with them and eventually find the proper and necessary treatment. A child with a microsystem of good and religious upbringing at the early age of five who lives in a small populated area in a state of Nebraska and move to an environment with macrosystem of foreign speakers (in a case of a military family moving overseas) will have a chronosystems of different expectations and finally reach his teen years (age 15) dwelling in a populated area of Tokyo with a neighborhood of local gangs (or peer pressures) in Japan.

The child’s development will be different from someone who is his neighbor with the same religious and family background in Nebraska the whole entire time (15 years).

The counselor must communicate and established an understanding to view the child’s transition or 5 levels of structure of environment as a factor and relate to each level and be aware then empathize with the child or adolescent’s history.


Berry, J. (1995, March). Families and Deinstitutionalization: An Application of
Bronfenbrenner's Social Ecology Model. Journal of Counseling & Development, 73(4), 379-383. Retrieved January 5, 2009, from SocINDEX with Full Text database.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1974). Developmental Research, Public Policy, and the Ecology of Childhood. Child Development, pp. 1,5. Retrieved January 5, 2009, doi:10.1111/1467-8624.ep12265367

Bronfenbrenner, U. (2005). Making human beings human: Bioecological Perspectives on human development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Swick, K., & Williams, R. (2006, April). An Analysis of Bronfenbrenner’s Bio-Ecological Perspective for Early Childhood Educators: Implications for Working with Families Experiencing Stress. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(5), 371-378. Retrieved January 5, 2009, doi:10.1007/s10643-006-0078-y
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