Influences of Environment on Behavior and the Family System

Influences of Environment on Behavior and the Family System

Kaplan University

HN144-04: Human Behavior and the Environment

Unit 9 Assignment: Influences of Environment on Behavior and the Family System

Influences of Environment on Behavior and the Family System

Sandra went from a thriving, caring and compassionate woman to being a bitter and resentful woman. For 33-years, Sandra was a teacher, has four children, and after her retirement, she had dream of traveling and volunteering (Zastrow). Sandra found out that she is unable to follow her dreams and feels an obligation to care for her husband, who will not do anything to help himself or his family. Sandra’s husband is mentally, physically, and verbally to her and their children and now suffers from cirrhosis of the liver and has had to stop working. On one hand, Sandra wishes that Benedito, her husband, would die so that she could be free to follow her dreams, but on the other hand she feels guilty for even thinking about things such as wishing he would die. She has worked hard all her life to get what she has so she will not file for divorce because she fears he would take everything is has worked to get, nor will she put him in a nursing home. Due to all this, Sandra feel resentful and like she is stuck in this situation with no other alternatives or options available to her.

According to Erik Erikson in his Theory of Psychosocial Development, I believe that Sandra is in Despair, which is Erikson’s eighth stage. During this stage, people are in their 60s or older, like Sandra, and are typically retirees (Psychology Notes HQ) . If Sandra was to contact an HSP (Health Service Professional), they would have the opportunity to review Sandra’s life and give her some things that may be helpful to help her deal with this time of transition crisis in her life because and HSP has the resources to provide Sandra with the counseling she need along with other options, such as support groups and knowledge and skills that Sandra needs to take care of her husband with all his health issues. She could even have a healthcare provider come into her home and sit with her husband a couple of days a week for a few hours so that she could get some time for herself. This could help Sandra get out and do some volunteer work and be a part of the community as well (Reinhard, Given, Peltlick, & Bernis).

In my opinion, the biggest negative influence in the behavior of Sandra is the obligation she feels to her husband. When Sandra got married, she made wedding vows that she would stay with her husband for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death (Zastrow). She is fulfilling those vows, but it is not easy for her because of these vows she makes the decision to remain in an unhealthy marriage that is full of abuse and unhappiness. Along with this is the obligation to take care of her husband and give up her dreams, and by having to do this, Sandra feels as if she is useless and not good for anything except being there for her husband’s every command and need.

When considering the Stress Theory, there are several recommendations a HSP could make to Sandra that would help her cope with her trauma/stress that would help her meet her goal of a long-life expectancy. A few examples of recommendations would be different relaxation techniques, exercise, and fun activities (Zastrow). An HSP could also recommend that Sandra get into a program of some sort, like counseling, start eating properly (diet) with the proper intake of nutrition and start a healthy sleep pattern. All of these things would help keep Sandra from being as physically exhausted and help keep her mind clear and healthier as well as her state of well-being and body.

If I were working with Sandra, and she provided me with consent to contact her family, I believe that involving her children would make a positive impact on her family system. Even though the children hate their father, they love Sandra and I believe would do anything they, along with their children, possibly could do to help Sandra cope with some of the stress and issues she has. This also would help Sandra become more happy with her life and the way things are regardless if she still upheld her vows or not.

Her children and grandchildren’s role in helping Sandra cope with her trauma/stress would be a support system that she is lacking. They could just be there for her when she needed a shoulder to cry on, an ear to vent to, help her make dinner, help Sandra with her husband or cleaning the house. Just having the family together during a nice quiet evening would make a huge difference in Sandra and help her tremendously because things become less stressful and traumatic when a family comes together and enjoys each-other’s company.

The Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) is an excellent human services agency that serves older adults and could provide Sandra and her family with their current stressors. All of Alabama’s DHRs provide information and assistance to older adults, individuals with disabilities, and their caregivers. They offer help for caregiver information and help the caregivers get educated with more knowledge they need to know in order to better care for their loved one as well as give the caregiver temporary relief or a brief respite from care giving so that the care giver can get a little breather. This agency also helps give individuals like Sandra and her family the help they need, such as counseling and other outlets as stress relivers so that they can live more positive and healthier lives.

Considering everything I have learning while in HN144-04: Human Behavior and the Environment this term, there are several best practice approaches that a HSP could use to help a multigenerational family experiencing a negative environment. A HSP needs to make sure when planning activities for their session, that the activities not only address the needs of the family as a whole, but that they also include aspects that address the needs of the adults and children as a whole together as well. This will get all generations involved interested and participating. It is also important for a HSP to sit and listen to each side, without judgement, and provide an unbiased opinion and advice on the issues at hand. This will help all parties involved see things through and open mind from the outside in and offer more help than they could see they had. I believe all of this would help Sandra and her family live a happier, healthier and longer life.


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Reinhard, S.C., Given, B. Petlick, N.H. (2008). Supporting Family Caregivers in Providing

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Social Environment, 9th Ed. Blemont: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning. Retrieved from!/4/2@0:14.4!/4/2@0:14.4