Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development

The main focus of this paper is the critical analysis of Kohlberg theory of moral development and how it could help a therapist in understanding a client’s presentation of a problem.  But before understanding how this theory could help a therapist understand a client’s presentation of a problem, understanding of the theory itself is of a paramount importance (Moshman, 2005).

Lawrence Kohlberg developed his theory of moral development of 1950s on the basis of Piaget’s work. Both Kohlberg and Piaget were of the opinion that morality is actively constructed as well as rationally based. That morality is neither inert nor acquired through the learning process but that is develops through cognitive structures that actively form in succession. Each of these structures resolves contradictions and conflicts emerging or formed by previous opinion on moral issues. Unlike Piaget, who was mainly interested in childhood, Kohlberg was of the opinion that moral development was a gradual process that continued from childhood through adolescence to adulthood (Moshman, 2005).

Kohlberg theory of moral development of 1927 to 1987 points out that development of morality takes place through succession of stages. Each of these stages represents a level of moral rationality that is high. The basis of defining these stages is the level of reasoning that they involve. An individual’s reasoning on moral dilemmas as opposed to a given moral conclusion or a belief is the basis of moral development assessment (Moshman, 2005).

Kohlberg’s theory can be of great importance to therapists in understanding how a client represents a problem by placing the individual in a specific stage of this theory hence understanding his/ her level of thinking. Hence by categorizing clients in terms of theory’s different stages, the therapist will be able to understand how and the specific client is representing the problems in a specific manner.

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