Leo J. Tijhuis & John P.M.G. Van Meer
Tijhuis Practice Child and Youth Psychotherapy, Nijmegen, The Netherlands





Psychological development of adolescents is not the same as growth. In dialectical ways development can include progression, regression, new constructions, remodeling, and decline. In a sample of 21 adolescents this dialectical moving is investigated using a nomothetic and an idiographic analysis of their self-narratives. The purpose of this study is the search for the process of individuation as a dialectical moving in adolescent development. We have studied the nature of the individuation process as a dialectical relationship between basic motives: the S motive or the striving for autonomy of the self, and the O motive or the striving towards contact and unity with the other. In the adolescent self, known as the second separation-individuation process, both motives are intertwined in the individuation process. The result of this developmental process is a synthesis between self-enhancement and unity, between autonomy and mutuality. The central question in our paper concerns an investigation into the cyclic process of valuation and development. More specifically, wil the individuation process move along the developmental line of self-enhancement, along the line of unity with other, or simultaneously along both lines? Our findings illustrate the moving of meaning in the adolescent lifeperiod. We will discuss the significance of these findings to our clinical practice as a consultant and psychotherapist.