The relational theory suggests that a principal human necessity is the institution of mutual and authentic connection in relationships, where a disconnection leads to psychological problems. It is very consonant with social work perspectives, particularly on the salience of relationships and the environment (Krill, 1978). The concept of identity complexity can be used to theoretically describe the manner in which the environment and interactions are fundamental to identity (Krill, 1978). Aside from the relational theory, the existential theory is another social work theory that is widely applicable in psychology. The existential theory majorly focuses on self-determination, self-search for meaning and free will, often centering on a person, rather than the symptoms.While the relational theory is based on the essence of relationships in the identity of a person the existential theory is centered on the assertions that all people are capable of self-awareness, every person must have unique relationship known through relating with others and that life meaning continually changes and hence all persons must continually recreate themselves.
The Agbon case study can be used to analyze the relational theory and the existential theory critically. To be able to understand the traits of different cultures or multicultural persons wholly, it is important to invest a lot of time and effort in understanding his/her culture, in an open-minded and nonjudgmental approach. For the case of Agbon, the adaptation to a new culture is complex as he has to deal with some factors, not limited to the death of his parents, adoption, and life in an orphanage. The relational theory, in this case, is very relevant. By default, Agbon is set to forge new relationships with people in this new environment, regardless of the prevailing factors such as the demise of the parents. According to Turner, the ability of persons to create relations is intuitive and natural (2017). Though the existential theory also stresses on the importance of relationships towards identity, it is centered on the concept of self-determination and self-awareness. As such, in Agbon case, it falls short in explicitly explaining the changes in the trait as a result of the new environment, as self-will and self-awareness cannot account for all behavioral changes.
Conclusively, both the relational theory and existential therapy are essential in social work studies as they both emphasize on the need for relationships in determining identity. However, the relational theory is arguably a more applicable theory in the Agbon case study.
DuPlessis Nelson, J. (2015). How Do You Solve a Problem Like Agbon?: The Trials and Tribulations of Applying Diagnoses to Children of a Foreign Culture. Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 14(4), 423-433.
Krill, D. F. (1978). Existential social work.
Turner, F. J. (2017). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches. Oxford University Press.
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