The Handbook of Counselling Children & Young People
eBook - ePub

The Handbook of Counselling Children & Young People

Maggie Robson, Sue Pattison, Maggie Robson, Sue Pattison

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  2. English
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eBook - ePub

The Handbook of Counselling Children & Young People

Maggie Robson, Sue Pattison, Maggie Robson, Sue Pattison

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About This Book

Expert authors from a wide range of backgrounds bring together the fundamentals of counselling practice with children and young people in this landmark handbook. It covers all your students need to know about theory and practice approaches, the counselling process, and practice issues and settings. This second edition is updated with the latest developments and research in an ever-changing field, and includes new content on:

  • Diversity and difference
  • Mental illness
  • Safeguarding and risk assessment
  • Child and young people?s development
  • Attachment theory and application

Each chapter includes a chapter introduction and summary, reflective questions and activities, helping trainees to cement their learning. With chapters contributed by leading specialists and academics in the field, this book is essential reading for trainees and practitioners working with children and young people.

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Part I Theory and Practice Approaches

1 Child Development and Attachment

This chapter will discuss:

  • The theoretical underpinnings and some conceptual frameworks of child development and attachment
  • The centrality and importance of considering diversity
  • Implications of child development and attachment for therapeutic practice when working with children and young people
  • Case presentations of young people whose development and attachment is affected. These aid reflection on the key points


Theories on childhood development and attachment remain some of the most studied and central theories in helping us understand how as humans we develop physically and psychologically. There are numerous debates on attachment and development, which primarily hail from the nature–nurture question. In responding to these debates, I draw from research on epigenetics and environment interactions which states that it is not nature or nurture nor is it nature and nurture but that life emerges from the interaction between the two. That there are no genetic factors that can be studied independently of the environment, and there are no environmental factors that function independently of the genome (Meaney, 2001: 51; Meaney, 2010). Additionally, given the importance and centrality of diversity when exploring child development, in the context of counselling I also draw from cultural and relational neuroscience research that examines how psychological processes develop and are influenced and shaped by the interplay between culture, biological and physiological factors, genetic influences, patterns of neural activation and environmental processes (Schore, 1994; Siegel, 2010; Sasaki and Kim, 2017). Furthermore, I believe that human experience is organised physiologically, affectively, cognitively, biologically and experientially (Erskine and Moursund, 2011). Thus, whilst Bowlby and Ainsworth’s attachment models, which primarily explain infant behaviour towards their attachment figure, will be explored, I will outline a wide range of other orientations in order to mirror the complexity of processes that make up child development and the plethora of theoretical perspectives that have already been published in the vast literature within developmental psychology, psychotherapy and counselling literature.
Given the magnitude of this subject area, it is impossible to cover any particular theories in enough depth to do them justice or to cover all theories that relate to attachment and child development. Thus, in order to contextualise, synthesise and integrate perspectives noted in this chapter, I will use a relational framework that asserts a range of considerations (see Erskine, 2015; Finlay, 2015; Paul and Charura, 2015). These include that what happens in the therapy room may well reflect developmental and phenomenological processes that are happening outside for the client. It also highlights the importance of the intersubjective space between two people, in the here-and-now, and the containing and psychologically holding presence of the therapist in a human-to-human, collaborative relationship within a safe space and working with whatever emerges (Erskine, 2015; Finlay, 2015; Paul and Charura, 2015). Hence past experiences that may have impacted the development, attachment and relational patterns of the child/young person require the therapist to be flexible enough to attune to each client’s relational needs (Clarkson, 2003). Therefore, these relational principles will form the basis for the perspectives noted in this chapter, particularly when considering the implications for therapeutic practice on child development and attachment. To end the chapter a list of points for key learning is provided.

Underpinning Theoretical and Therapeutic Concepts – Beginnings

Psychosexual development

Before focusing on attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969; 1988; Ainsworth et al., 1978), I will offer a few different theoretical perspectives of development in order to contextualise both the history and the diversity of thought within developmental and psychotherapy theory.
In this section I will offer a brief overview of the psychosexual stages, though it is impossible to do it justice in a few paragraphs, especially given that so much has been written about this in psychoanalytic literature. My intention, however, is to point to some of the theoretical conceptions around psychosexual development in children and young people in order to further the stimulus of practitioners’ thinking and considerations on psychosexual development theory as one of the pillars of psychological theories on child development. In Sigmund Freud’s writing from 1905 onwards to other contemporary writing that has followed he depicted the emergence of human development through psychosexual stages.
It is worth highlighting at this early stage in this chapter the historical context of two distinct and often contradictory schools of thought found in Freud’s classical psychoanalytic school of thought. Shuttleworth (1989) described these as Freud’s mechanistic model of emotional life, which Freud (1911) postulated as that of an organism dealing with different quantities of excitation. In later writings this was interwoven with more psychological development concepts which were hypothesised as being concerned with the relationship between instincts and internal drives as well as the capacity for contact with reality and rational thought (Shuttleworth, 1989).
Thus as Freud’s writing and clinical practice developed, he shifted his model of development and hypothesised that consequently the capacity in later life to process emotion and relate to others or psychopathological presentations could not be simply translated as being linked to childhood sexuality and the relationship with primary caregivers – the ‘past causing the present’ – but rather experience accumulates and develops in indirect and multifaceted ways (Freud, 1911; Shuttleworth, 1989).
In relation to Freud’s contribution to development on psychosexual stages, he hypothesised that in developing from infancy to adolescence, the individual develops through psychosexual stages and activities that consist of contending with libidinal tensions and their accompanying anxieties (Freud, 1905; Shuttleworth, 1989). These stages are notably the oral, anal, phallic (which also constitutes the Oedipus complex), latency and genital stages, all of which have been written about extensively elsewhere and thus I will not focus on their descriptions in this chapter (see Freud, 1905; 1924; Freud et al., 1953; Garcia, 1995).
Given the infant’s dependency on its primary caregivers, its interpersonal struggles and anxieties are thus made relational and are manifested through overindulgence and overfrustration. His conceptual framework of the psychosexual stages is not one that is a linear, or unidi...

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