Psychopathology: Theory and Practice

30 April 2020 – Professor Stephen Briggs

Mental health problems in adolescence cause concern worldwide; adolescence is notable for the emergence of distinctive difficulties of varying severity and uncertain duration, including; self-destructive relatedness; depression; eating disorders. Diagnoses and prognoses are volatile and unreliable. Most adult disorders begin in adolescence, up to 75% by the age of 24; yet most mental health difficulties are resolved during adolescence. Diagnostic approaches therefore need to be supplemented by other ways of formulating understanding of adolescent mental health issues.

Unprecedented social changes have transformed the social and cultural worlds young people live in and created new contexts for development. The momentous and radical developmental process in adolescence makes demands on young people to bear loss and re-evaluate relatedness, to adapt to the emerging adult sexual body and become more separate from parental figures. It forms a necessary turbulence; mental health difficulties arise through disturbances to the developmental process and internal relatedness. The seminar will focus on understanding different aspects of the developmental process for individuals, distinguishing between developmental breakdown, communications of states of mind, including through acting and projecting; defences against the pains and turbulence of change; and processes of making developmental changes and gains.

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Professor Stephen Briggs

Stephen Briggs is Professor of Social Work at the University of East London, and Honorary Professor, University of Nottingham. He is a Member of the Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He was formerly Consultant Social Worker in the Adolescent Department, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. His latest book, Time-limited Adolescent Psychodynamic Psychotherapy; a developmentally-focussed psychotherapy for young people, will be published by Routledge in 2019.