Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Developmental Science and Counseling

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Developmental Science and Counseling

Article excerpt

Developmental science is increasingly used as a foundation for counseling theory and practice. The need to build a more evidenced-based perspective to inform practice and a desire to expand counseling theory are often given as the rationale for this trend. Ivey's (2000; Ivey & Goncalves, 1988) work in developmental counseling and therapy (DCT) is perhaps one of the more well-known attempts to blend counseling and developmental science. However, in light of research from the developmental sciences, DCT has encountered numerous challenges both as a theory and as a practice. It is the goal of the current article to identify some of these challenges and to suggest possible resolutions that maintain the integrity of DCT practice while extending theoretical foundations for both counseling and developmental science.

Three challenges can be identified in the effort to blend developmental science and counseling. Although Ivey's (2000; Ivey & Goncalves, 1988) work is reviewed in this article, other efforts in this area (Greenspan, 1997; Pine, 1985) are subject to the same general concerns: (a) creation of a philosophical framework, (b) explanation of development, and (c) application of developmental science to counseling.

A Philosophical Framework

Ivey (2000; Ivey & Goncalves, 1988) discussed the creation of a philosophical framework to guide the theoretical and practical work of integrating the two disciplines of developmental science and counseling. Although the use of antiquity elaborated in Ivey's unique reading of Platonic philosophy is paralleled with the work of genetic epistemologist Jean Piaget (1953/1992), several complications arise. First, liberties are taken with the ideas of Plato (see The Republic; Plato, trans. 2000). Ivey openly admitted that he did not use Plato as Plato intended but has given us a new interpretation of the philosopher's work. The new interpretation, apparently, is designed to align itself with the work of Piaget. However, Piaget (1953/1992) thought little of Plato's work:

   First, there is platonism, which was a feature of the early works
   of Bertrand Russell and A. N. Whitehead, which stimulated the work
   of Scholz, and which remains either the confessed or unconfessed
   ideal of a large number of logicians. Logic on such a view
   corresponds to a system of universals existing independently of
   experience and nonpsychological in origin. However, we still have
   to explain how the mind comes to discover such universals. The
   platonic hypothesis only shelves this problem and brings us no
   nearer a solution. (p. 453)

Neither Piaget nor the developmental sciences, in general, have much to do with Plato or the works of antiquity. Indeed, the explicit rejection of antiquity is what gave birth to developmental science. Piaget, along with all developmental science, has philosophical roots in the work of German and French romantic philosophers. Goethe and Rousseau provided the foundation for developmental science. Indeed, Freud (1933/1965) wrote that he did not truly find a meaningful purpose for his life work until he read Goethe. Piaget (1953/1992) praised Rousseau numerous times throughout his career. It is obvious from Piaget's own writing that he was well versed in the main works of romantic thinkers, such as Pestalozzi (1781/2004), Froebel (1899/2001), Goethe (1810/1970), and Rousseau (1762/1979). Indeed, the one time Piaget mentioned Plato was to dismiss his works as meaningless banter that simply avoided answering any important questions.

What was it about romantic philosophy that made developmental scientists turn away from antiquity and praise this disparate group of revolutionaries? One obvious answer is that the spirit of the romantics has permeated most of what developmentalists believe: All people are innately good, all people are born and must live in equality, and all people develop in a positive direction. …

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