Information for therapists

Certain patterns can be found in the behavior of adults. To what extent does someone think, feel and act as you would expect for their age and to what extent is behavior determined by ‘early’ or less developed patterns?

The Developmental Profile clearly maps out strong and weak personality traits. For care providers, coaches and managers, this insight is important to help determine the focus of a treatment. Unexpected (crisis) situations can also be prevented with the information obtained.

The Developmental Profile stems from developmental psychology and is mentioned in the multidisciplinary guideline Personality Disorders. The profile combines the psychoanalytic frame of reference with existing classification systems such as the DSM 5 in an empirically verifiable manner and is updated based on results from validity and reliability research.

Development in phases and areas of life

The Developmental Profile is based on developmental psychology and on the idea that every individual passes through a number of developmental stages in her/his life, which normally progress from an immature to a mature level. The phases are referred to in the Developmental Profile as ten developmental levels:

  1. lack of structure
  2. fragmentation
  3. egocentricity
  4. dependence
  5. resistance
  6. rivalry
  7. individuation
  8. solidarity
  9. generativity
  10. maturity

The first six levels are characterized as immature or disadaptive levels and the next four as late, mature or adaptive levels.

For example, lack of structure, as the earliest level, is characterized by gaps in psychosocial functioning and maturity, as the last level, is characterized as the stage in which the individual is able to deal constructively with limitations and in particular the finiteness of one’s own life.

Development lines

In addition to this division of levels, the Developmental Profile is subdivided into areas of life in which development takes place: the development lines.

Nine lines of development are:

  • social attitudes
  • object relations
  • self image
  • standards
  • needs
  • cognitions
  • problem solving
  • behavior (2 lines) and other themes

In the Developmental Profile, the behavior (thinking, feeling and acting) of the adult is typified by the extent to which he has developed adaptive patterns of behavior appropriate to his age and the extent to which his behavior is determined by (childhood-appropriate) disadaptive patterns. In principle, every adult has characteristics of the child he used to be. The Developmental Profile shows to what extent this is the case (Abraham 1993, 1997).


The Developmental Profile can be used in two ways: as a frame of reference and as a diagnostic tool.

Developmental Profile as frame of reference

The profile can be used as a frame of reference in daily clinical practice. The practitioner or coach assesses an intake or treatment report based on the Developmental Profile and makes an estimate of the adaptive and disadaptive developmental levels. He chooses a treatment based on this strength/weakness analysis.

In addition, the Developmental Profile can be helpful as a frame of reference for professionals to:

  • systematically reflect on the feeling, thinking and acting of the client over the past years and present them in an orderly fashion.
  • to provide a common language in treatment teams.
  • provide a clear, uncluttered framework in training situations to structure, understand and discuss the client’s functioning in different areas.

Developmental Profile as a diagnostic tool

As a diagnostic instrument, its use is comparable to the performance of a psychodiagnostic examination. A semi-structured interview is conducted in two or three interviews. This interview serves as the basis for drawing up the profile. This application takes more time and is useful if there is a clear indication that it’s necessary. For example, if it is not clear after a few intake interviews which treatment is appropriate or if longer intensive psychodynamic or client-centered psychotherapy is considered.

As a diagnostic tool, the Developmental Profile also provides relevant information for establishing a behavioral treatment protocol, developing strategies to promote drug adherence, reporting on motivations for criminal behavior, or assessing applicants’ abilities for specific employment.

The Developmental Profile can be used as a diagnostic tool in the following cases:

  • When the standard classification does not provide sufficient guidelines for treatment – ​​The Developmental Profile can then provide information about the presence of disadaptive personality traits.
  • When there’s a history of recurrent and disabling behavior patterns in an individual, for example in the case of work-related or recurrent relationship problems – The Developmental Profile as a structured research is helpful in substantiating and analyzing these problems.
  • For insightful and person-oriented psychotherapy – The Developmental Profile provides a basis for the assessment of the patient’s capacity and introspective capacities. It also provides an indication of the patient’s possibilities for change and limitations.
  • In case there is uncertainty about the most appropriate form or framework of the treatment (ambulatory or not) – The Developmental Profile offers insight into the possibilities and limitations of the patient.
  • In case of stagnation of the treatment and the need for further exploration of problems in the therapeutic relationship – The Developmental Profile offers additional information from its developmental psychological framework about disadaptive relationship patterns and immature defense patterns, such as poor impulse control and acting-out behavior, which leads to problems in the therapeutic relationship and stagnation of treatment.

Reliability and validity

The Developmental Profile aims to take inventory of clinically relevant personality traits in a standardized manner. The goal is to make the patient’s habitual behavior comprehensible and easier to influence. The test for standardization, a sufficient degree of inter-rater reliability, internal reliability and construct validity, has been met (Van et al 2000). The Developmental Profile also appears to be sufficiently predictable on the basis of other psychological testing research (Callewaert-Meijer et al 1995). Research into predictive validity is currently underway.

View diagnostic tools

The Developmental Profile foundation has a list of colleagues who are qualified in the application of the Developmental Profile as a diagnostic tool. This examination results in a report and a recommendation for treatment.

For information about the possibilities of this diagnostic examination, please contact us.

Request the research results of the Developmental Profile for your patient

The Developmental Profile foundation has a list of colleagues who are qualified to administer the application of the Developmental Profile as a diagnostic tool. This examination results in a report and a recommendation for treatment.

For information about the possibilities of this diagnostic examination, please contact us.