Ego Psychology Theory

Human Behavior in the Social Environment

  1. Eda Goldstein

Published Online: 15 JUL 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470373705.chsw002008

Comprehensive Handbook of Social Work and Social Welfare

Comprehensive Handbook of Social Work and Social Welfare

How to Cite

Goldstein, E. 2008. Ego Psychology Theory. Comprehensive Handbook of Social Work and Social Welfare. 2:5.

Author Information

  1. New York University, School of Social Work, New York, New York, US

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2008


Gaining recognition in the United States in the late 1930s and 1940s, ego psychology focuses on a person's ego functions, defenses, sense of mastery, coping capacities, and life cycle stages. It also draws attention to the impact of interpersonal relationships, the environment, and the culture on human functioning. Biopsychosocial assessment, mobilizing client strengths, and the client-worker relationship are at the core of ego-oriented intervention, which utilizes psychological and environmental techniques. Ego-oriented intervention has been applied to diverse problems and populations and its proponents have attempted to integrate many of the ideas and principles of culturally sensitive, affirmative, and empowering interventive approaches. There is increasing evidence for the utility of ego psychological interventions and ego psychology is still popular today among social work practitioners.


  • ego psychology;
  • ego-oriented intervention;
  • clinical social work practice