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"Clinical implications of the development of the person"

"Attachment & Human Development

Volume 7, Number 4 / December 2005

381 - 392

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Clinical implications of the development of the person

Gerhard J. Suess A1 and June Sroufe A2

A1 Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany
A2 Private Practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA


The Minnesota longitudinal study of parents and children from birth to adulthood provides both a theoretical framework and a host of empirical findings that can serve to bridge the gap between research and clinical application. Key among these findings are: (a) the ongoing impact of early relationship experiences throughout the years, even with later experience and circumstances controlled; (b) the cumulative nature of experience and its continual impact with current context; (c) the important role of adult partner relationships; (d) the increasingly active role of the persons themselves in their own development; and (e) the interplay between experience, representation, and ongoing adaptation. These findings, and the theoretical structure underlying them, suggest the need for complex, comprehensive intervention that begins early, with a focus on altering the quality of parent – child relationships. At the same time, additional components, including couples therapy and efforts to alter the child's inner constructions of experience, are clearly suggested. One must attend to forces maintaining children on maladaptive developmental pathways once established, as well as understanding the factors that initiated such pathways.


Transactional intervention, attachment based intervention, Minnesota Longitudinal Study, research-based practice"