Zones of proximal emotional development - Psychotherapy within a neuroaffective perspective

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Abstract

This article outlines a conceptual framework for assessing personal and emotional functions of a person’s zone of proximal emotional development. The framework is based on the integrative theory Neuroaffective Developmental Psychology (NADP), which brings together attachment theory, neuropsychology, developmental psychology, and trauma theory. Within the NADP framework, this article describes a way of understanding children’s normal emotional mental organization and of examining how this mental organization may be developed or disturbed by relational issues. It also describes how a child’s mental organization can be disturbed and thus, without intervention, disturb the child’s personality development on a lifelong basis. The article presents three case vignettes, describing three children growing into adolescence with three different attachment patterns and suggested individually tailored intervention plans for each of them, relevant and useful for clinicians working with vulnerable children and families. Because the nervous system retains its plasticity throughout life, attachment is not necessarily an unchangeable pattern. That is why we as clinicians should develop psychotherapeutic methods and a research-based way of determining “what works for whom” by assessing the zone of individual proximal emotional development. The text outlines the characteristics of NADP and how it can be used to structure an intervention plan.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy
Volume17
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)28-42
Number of pages15
ISSN1528-9168
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018

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