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This assignment will deepen your understanding of the different theories of practice and give you an opportunity to analyze, and critique the use of practice interventions from various schools of thought. You are to choose three theories to describe your eclectic practice model from a critical analytical perspective using the following guidelines: 
1. Introduction 
2. Briefly describe the key concepts of the theories and then critique the theories according to their benefits and limitations, based on evidence-based practice. Your paper should demonstrate evidence of critical thinking and knowledge about the three theories as they relate to social work practice from a social justice perspective.
2) Explain why you did not include two theoretical approaches to your eclectic approach.
3) Summary/conclusion of the paper in general. Include a reflection on your own eclectic model of practice guiding your future social work practice.
4) At least six citations are required for this assignment in addition to course material.

Eclectic Model of Practice

Eclectic model of practice is conceptualized as an approach which borrows from various metatheories or mid-level theories to address the client's needs or the situation. Therefore, eclecticism can be utilized to explain human behavior as well as intervening in the human behavior (Walsh, 2013). Eclectic model of practice hence seeks to utilize the most helpful theoretical intervention or explanation to a community or a client. For example, if an eclectic social worker is offering assistance to a female client who recently cheated on her husband of 10 years and feeling terribly sad and guilty then, he/she can draw from various theories to explain the situation or to intervene. Using the Freud's theory the social worker may see this client as one trapped in the phallic development stage and in need of building ego over the id impulses. Similarly, using the Erickson's theory the social worker may perceive the client as one who has not resolved the duty of developing intimacy, hence has an obligation to develop intimacy. On the other hand, attachment theory will scrutinize the interaction between the partners and see the lack of attunement hence unhealthy relationship which led to the client to feel lonely thus engaging in an affair. The theory will propose re-attunement which leads to a feeling of mutual understanding. This illustrates how eclectic model of practice aids social worker to draw from various theories to practice their profession effectively (Thompson, 2015). The objective of this research, therefore, is to compare and critique three practice theories in developing an eclectic model of practice.

  1. Theories and Their Key Concepts

Three theories which will be used to describe the eclectic practice model include attachment theory, Self-psychology theory, as well as empowerment theory (Coady & Lehmann, 2016).

  1. Attachment theory

British psychologist John Bowlby established attachment theory after the Second World War. He defined attachment as enduring psychological connectedness among humans. Therefore, attachment theory is fundamentally concerned with emotional bonds between people. This theory can be described as a psychological, ethological, and evolutionary theory with its attention to relationships and specifically the relationship between the mother and the child. The theory further holds that a child must establish a relationship with the mother or the caregiver to ensure emotional and social development (Coady & Lehmann, 2016). Besides, this theory postulates that for one to develop social competence, he/she must possess emotional, social, and intellectual skills as well as behaviors that position him or her to be successful. A careful evaluation on the adult attachment results into four categories of attachment which include;

  1. Secure
  2. Anxious
  3. Dismissive-avoidant
  4. Fearful-avoidant

Attachment Theory

Dismissive-avoidant and the fearful-avoidant are characterized by a discomfort with psychological intimacy, hence, the desire to retain psychological independence even in marriage. Anxiety, on the other hand, is marked with a desire for attention and care from the attachment figures, however, the attachment figure manifest unwillingness to respond to such needs. Secure attachment is a balance of dismissive-avoidant and the fearful-avoidant as well as the anxious attachment (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters & Wall, 2015).

Attachment theory, therefore, implies that though biological factors propel attachment relationships, the bond which is established between the mother/caregiver and the child is modeled by the interpersonal experience. It further notes that the encounters of an individual in his/her earlier relationships contribute to creating internal working models that influence attachment styles consequently affecting future attachment relationships. Moreover, the attachment trends of the mother or the caregiver significantly influence the attachment relationship they will establish with the child.  It is also important to note that, in attachment theory attachment orientations and the working models are subject to change (Cournoyer, 2016). Finally, according to attachment theory, some clinical disorders or psychological maladjustment can be attributed to anxious working models or unhealthy attachment styles.

  1. Self-psychology theory

HeinzKohut established the self-psychology theory in the 1970s. This theory, therefore, offers a clear framework in understanding self-regulation. Self in this theory is understood as a cognitive framework that can classify individual subjective experiences in a given order hence forming an arrangement of developmental needs. These developmental needs must be satisfied before one arrives at self-regulation. In this theory, developmental needs are referred to as self-object needs. They are referred to as self-object needs because they rely on how individual received them from primary caregivers (Cournoyer, 2016). Kohut argues that, if self-object needs are satisfied in childhood, then an individual capable of self-regulation is formed. These self-object needs are fundamentally psychological needs which can be distinguished into three categories. That is;

  1. The grandiosity axis
  2. The idealization axis
  3. The alter ego-connectedness axis

 An individual is perceived to have developed alongside the grandiosity axis if he/she has the capability to maintain a stable, positive concept of self-esteem. As a result, the individual participates in engagements that have meaning to the self. Proper development besides this axis is featured by a feeling of agency, initiative, and personal competence. On the other hand, an individual develops beside idealization axis when he/she has the aptitude to form stable goals, beliefs as well as to strive to achieve ideals he/she is firmly convinced. Similarly, proper development besides ego-connectedness axis manifests an individual with the potential to form meaningful group association and interpersonal relationships. This axis is featured by self-respect, value, and goals that are respected by others as well as a strong feeling of connectedness or belongingness. The self-psychology theory also postulates that primary caregivers influence how an individual can integrate the structures which lead to self-regulation. This theory, therefore, concludes that insufficient satisfaction of the self-object needs in childhood may result in the development of an individual with challenges in forming interpersonal relationships due to undeveloped the self-esteem (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters & Wall, 2015).

  1. Empowerment theory

Self-Psychology Theory

Empowerment as a theory entails both the process and the outcome of empowerment. This theory postulate activities, action, and structures that can empower individuals, communities, or organizations in social and political contexts. However, empowerment lacks a universal measure. This is due to the fact that different people, communities or organizations have different needs; hence demand a particular empowerment which befits their context.  Empowerment theory, therefore, suggests communal and individual responsibility to attain goals and control of the available resources (Cournoyer, 2016). It further articulates the need for sufficient understanding of the sociopolitical environment. Empowerment theory has three levels of empowerment analysis which include;

  1. Psychological empowerment
  2. Organizational empowerment
  3. Community empowerment

Psychological empowerment is conceptualized as the empowerment at a personal level. The analysis at this level, therefore, focuses on the individual competence, understanding of the social and political environment as well as the effort exerted to control the locally available resources.  One way of enhancing these skills is by participating in communal and organization activities.  A powered individual is characterized by a critical awareness of his/her socio-political environment, a sense of personal control, and exhibit skills required in exerting control. On the other hand, organizational empowerment requires explicit distinction (Peterson, 2014). For example explaining what is meant by empowering organization and what is meant by the empowered organization.

Empowering organization refers to organizations which offer an opportunity to people; hence they have the potential to control their lives. Empowered organization refers to organizations which have the potential to successfully influence of or develop policies that can lead to a renewed manner of receiving services. The primary role of empowering organizations is to educate members on skills and sense of control, while that of empowered organization is to exert influence to ensure members benefit from the policies crafted. Besides, empowered community refers to a community with the ability to establish projects that can improve the quality of life of its members. It further has the potential to mitigate any threat to the well-being of the community. The empowered community, therefore, has the opportunity for all members and encourages all citizens to participate in community activities (Peterson, 2014).

  1. Critique of the Theories
  2. Attachment theory

   Proponents of the attachment theory are convinced that relationship developed between the mother and the infant affects how the child will develop an interpersonal relationship in adulthood. This is determined by the fact that the early relationship between the mother and the child affects the child brain development. It is thus evident that attachment theory holds the parent to be accountable for the way their child/children develop. Though true that parent should be responsible for the development of their children because they influence them and have their genes, parents are not the only attachment figures that influence the development of children entirely (Hepworth, Rooney & Strom-Gottfried, 2016). It is explicit in psychology and sociology that children are heavily influenced by their social groups especially in the formation of their personality. For example, if children are born of unemployed, drug abusing parent who lives in the ghetto then according to the attachment theory that child will have challenges forming interpersonal relationships. Attachment theory, however, has made a tremendous contribution to understanding the significance of relationships in one's life. For instance, friendship relations are crucial in adolescence because they are foundations of emotional support and security (McLeod & Sundet, 2015). This assurance facilitates proper development in social competence and future relationships.  Attachment theory thus offers attachment as a useful tool in the treatment of interpersonal disorders.  

  1. Self-psychology theory

Empowerment Theory

   The self-psychology theory has been developed as a psychodynamic framework which fits a social worker. Similar to the attachment theory, self-psychology theory burdens the mother by tracing the psychological challenges which are developed to the mother. Self-psychology particularly faults the mother for lack of empathy. Empathy is this theory is perceived as the avenue through which unmet self-object needs can be addressed. Therefore, self-psychology helped in understanding empathy as essential part of mental health care. Besides, it offered the explanation which led to appreciating narcissism as essential part of natural development (Hepworth, Rooney & Strom-Gottfried, 2016). Empathy is thus offered as a tool to comprehend and evaluate what has been observed as well as inform the intervention to be implemented. If a social worker can demonstrate the potential to understand the other person from his/her point of view then, treatment proceeds effectively. Self-psychology, on the other hand, is marked by the inability to address the entire factors which influence an individual well-being and development.

  1. Empowerment theory

Empowerment theory is beneficial in the sense that it offers a framework to facilitate a reflection and action towards social transformation. It is thus concern with the real ability or the perceived ability of an individual in determining the direction of life or community. To attain this objective empowerment theory, therefore, emphasizes the significance of educating people on political, social, and economic systems. The aim of empowerment theory in social work is not an adaptation but to build capacity in community, organizations, and in individuals to mitigate the social problems (Thompson, 2015). Since the effect of the social injustices and powerlessness diffuse to various levels, empowerment has been crafted to address communal, institutional and individual structures. This is because empowerment in social work aims at redistributing power to the society, hence solving social injustices (Hepworth, Rooney & Strom-Gottfried, 2016).

For example, in social work, a small group of work is used as an ideal model of how empowering intervention among individuals happens. Besides, the small group creates the foundations of the social support, through offering an opportunity to gain new skills. The small groups also act as the potential powerhouse for future action. Furthermore, the small groups allow the oppressed to learn of the empowerment among them thus developing entrepreneurial fortitude through engagement in social, political, and economic advocacy (Hepworth, Rooney & Strom-Gottfried, 2016).

  1. Why Theoretical Approaches are not included in the Eclectic Approach

The reason I did not include relational and emotional focused theoretical approaches into my eclectic approach is illuminated by the fact that relational theory is applied through networking while emotional theory is focused with emotional development especially between couples. As such the two frameworks are limited in their address of concrete social challenges that face communities. Besides, the two frameworks portray a social worker not an active agent in the process of social transformation. Therefore, it is my considered opinion that the two theories are not in line with my eclectic approach which is pragmatic and practical in approach.

Comparison and Critique

My eclectic approach is a pragmatic approach which involves one on one contact with the client at the micro level. I thus identify it as an approach which deals with people directly, either at the family level, group level, or individual level (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters & Wall, 2015). Thus this type of eclectic approach does not adhere to a particular theory but draws from all to solve the present problem. The primary objective of this kind of approach is to promote economic and social justice at the micro level. It thus provides answers to people who are oppressed and vulnerable.  This kind of eclectic approach, therefore, cannot utilize relational and emotional focused frameworks. My eclectic model is illuminated by the desire to promote social justice, ethics, personal awareness, and sensitivity to social diversity.


In conclusion, it is explicit from the research that theories are a vital part of social work practice because they provide the framework under which a social worker practices his/her knowledge. In fact, they are tools in the form of principles, concepts, and predictions. However, it is vital to note that theories are not absolute truths hence they have the ability to evolve through research or observation. Similarly, theories are not universal hence they do not apply in every situation (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters & Wall, 2015). However, well researched and considered theories provided practical interventions. As a social worker, it is, therefore, important to note that no amount of theoretical knowledge can substitute close monitoring of a client to understand their response and progress. It is evident from this research that an effective social work integrates information from various quarters to arrive at an informed decision. Therefore, as a social worker profession, one must have integrated knowledge in different social and human field (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters & Wall, 2015). With such knowledge, a social worker can claim to be equipped with eclectic approach model of social work, hence competence to promote social and economic justice.  


Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. N. (2015). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Psychology Press.

Coady, N., & Lehmann, P. (Eds.). (2016). Theoretical perspectives for direct social work practice: A generalist-eclectic approach. Springer Publishing Company.

Cournoyer, B. R. (2016). The social work skills workbook. Cengage Learning.

Hepworth, D. H., Rooney, R. H., Rooney, G. D., & Strom-Gottfried, K. (2016).

Empowerment  Series: Direct Social Work Practice: Theory and Skills. NelsonEducation.

McLeod, J., & Sundet, R. (2015). Integrative and Eclectic Approaches and Pluralism. The Handbook of Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy, 158.

Peterson, N. A. (2014). Empowerment theory: clarifying the nature of higher-order multidimensional constructs. American journal of community psychology, 53(1-2), 96-108.

Thompson, N. (2015). Understanding social work: Preparing for practice. Palgrave Macmillan.

Walsh, J. (2013). Theories for direct social work practice (3rd. Ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

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