The primacy of the developmental task

It has been stated earlier, that assessment and therapeutic communication with children, young people and their parents does not commence with the uncovering of pathology, but with the understanding of the meaning of their behaviour. An essential component of the psychodynamic conceptual and treatment framework therefore, is that it assumes a continuity of process and meaning, and thereby a continuity between brain and mind. This necessitates having a firm grasp of what is developmentally appropriate behaviour for the child and young person. A focus on what constitutes the developmental task in terms of the age and stage and what requires to be negotiated for the child and young person, is an essential requirement of any assessment process. A consideration of what may be described as the emotional milestones of development (Schmidt Neven, 1996, 2010) also enables us to identify what constitutes the unifying developmental experiences for all children and all young people, rather than what sets them apart from each other. The assertion of a unifying developmental experience for children and young people in turn, helps us to avoid fragmentation and instead to assert a set of unifying principles to inform practice.

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