Identifying Relevant Theories and Models

Via: Google Images

Psychoanalytic Theory

            Psychoanalytic theory mandates that part of our personality lies in the unconscious (Hyde & DeLamater, 2014). Sigmund Freud is the founder of this theory, and he posited that many current problems or symptoms can be traced back to an individual’s childhood. Sex drives is a major part of his theory and helped influence the client’s desire to cheat. Giugliano (2003) declares that conflict occurs between the libido and aggression drives (Giuliano, 2003). His theory emphasizes more of the biological concepts that impacts sexual functioning. In the client’s case, his wife’s ego was weak because she gave into her desire to have an affair. Hyde (2014) maintains that there is a battle between the id and the superego (Hyde, 2014).

During the case study, both the client and his wife might use defense mechanisms during their argument. Metzger (2014) states that “Defenses are unconscious and automatic” (p.478). She displayed denial until he provided proof that he knew about her affair. They both might not even realize that they are displaying defense mechanisms to protect themselves emotionally but that is because the defenses are coming from their unconscious. The goal would be for the learner to bring that into conscious awareness so that they can both be aware of their actions and reactions. Once they are aware of how the defense mechanisms are impacting their marriage, then they can take steps to make appropriate changes.

Social Learning Theory

            Social learning theory posits that sexual behaviors are learned and imitated (Hyde, 2014). By that logic, it would mandate that their children would be likely to cheat on their spouse in the future. Hogber & Byrne (1998) says that social learning theory has aspects of operant conditioning in it (Hogber & Byrne, 1998). The children could potentially end up modeling his drinking behaviors or end up committing infidelity in the future because that is the behavior that they witnessed in their upbringing. The couple might be unaware of how problematic behaviors could affect their children and this theory explains how they learn behaviors.

Cognitive Theory

Cognitive theory emphasizes changing irrational thought processes. Sometimes dysfunctional thinking can contribute to the behaviors that an individual chooses. There are certain gender schemas that we attribute to each gender in regards to human sexuality (Hyde, 2014). For example, promiscuity is more socially acceptable in males than in females. In the case study, society is likely to frown more on the infidelity because the wife is the guilty party. Gallagher, Naragon-Gainey, & Brown (2013) says that CBT is commonly used to treat anxiety symptoms (Gallagher, Naragon-Gainey, & Brown, 2013). The learner observed that the client displayed obvious distress and possible anxiety symptoms. The irrational thoughts also play a role in his increased drinking because the client has had a hard time coping with his wife’s infidelity. The way that the client views or perceives the traumatic event can influence how he learns to cope with it.

Neuroscience Influence

            Neuroscience has helped our understanding of the client’s problem by addressing that there could be biological components that could affect the drinking or infidelity that is involved in this case. Going back to psychoanalytic theory, certain concepts such as erogenous zones and libido come from the biological/scientific aspect of the human sexuality field (Hyde, 2014). There are also scientific aspects that could contribute to the client’s drinking (assuming that it leads to a future addiction because the case stated that he has not had a prior history of alcohol abuse). Giuliano (2003) acknowledges that science is important because they influence not only the drives in Freud’s theory, but also the stages in psychosexual development (Giuliano, 2003). Science can be very important in explaining biological aspects that could be contributing to the client’s symptoms or presenting problems.

Most Effective Theory for Identified Case

The theory that the learner feels best represents the client is cognitive theory. This theory can help the client deal with the trauma/anxiety symptoms that he is exhibiting. Gallagher (2013) says that CBT can help decrease anxiety (Gallagher, 2013). The learner would want to use counseling sessions to try to lessen the symptoms that the client is experiencing. The learner also believes that the feelings that he is experiencing can be treated using this approach. She would want to help stabilize him so that he can make rational decisions about his marriage. The traumatic event could end up being reframed where the client could end up viewing it as an opportunity for growth. Hyde (2014) declares that changing how the client perceives the situation can make a difference in their mindset (Hyde, 2014).

Systems Perspective

Systems theory looks at how the entire family operates as a whole. The dynamics of all the individuals are assessed to see how they each contribute to the dysfunction. Hentsch-Cowles & Brock (2013) says that systems theory looks at how family members affect each other within that particular dynamic (Hentsch-Cowles & Brock, 2013). This theory resonates with the learner because traumatic or dysfunctional events rarely affects only the primary individual. It usually affects the entire family system as a whole. Karakurt & Silver (2014) declares that “All behavior must be considered within the context of the larger system” (p.81).

That would be particularly helpful in this case study because the learner could explore the effect that the drinking and the infidelity had on the entire family. Certain dynamics could cause enmeshment with family members. The learner would need to help the client work through the recent drinking increase by helping him develop better coping skills and using reframing as a therapeutic tool. Once the drinking is addressed, the learner would need to explore the meaning of the infidelity for the client. She would need to be cognizant of the fact that she would more than likely see the client for individual counseling. However, she could give a referral for couples or family counseling so that the entire dynamic could be treated.


In conclusion, the learner had the opportunity to apply different opportunity to apply different theories to the given case study. In addition, she got to reflect on how the theories are applicable to human sexuality. She learned a lot about systems theory and how it can be useful in the counseling field.


Gallagher, M., Naragon-Gainey, K. & Brown, T. (2013). Perceived control is a transdiagnostic predictor of cognitive-behavior therapy outcome for anxiety disorders. Retrieved from: Capella Library.

Giuliano, J. (2003). A psychoanalytic overview of excessive sexual behavior and addiction. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity. Retrieved from: Capella Library.

Hentsch-Cowles, Brock, L.(2013). A systemic review of the literature on the role of the partner of the sex addict, treatment models, and a call for research for systems theory model in treating the partner. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity. Retrieved from Capella Library.

Hogben, M., Byrne, D. (1998). Using social learning theory to explain individual differences in human sexuality. The Journal of Sex Research. Retrieved from: Capella Library.

Hyde, J., DeLamater, J.D. (2014). Understanding human sexuality. (12th ed.). New York, NY, McGraw-Hill.

Karakurt, G. & Silver, K. (2014). Therapy for childhood sexual abuse survivors using attachment and family systems theory orientations. The American Journal of Family Therapy. Retrieved from: Capella Library.

Metzger, J. (2014). Adaptive defense mechanisms: Function and transcendence. Journal of Clinical Psychology. Retrieved from: Capella Library.



Cite this page: Danielle Bosley, "Identifying Relevant Theories and Models," in, July 28, 2017, (accessed September 26, 2022).