What we know - Pathways Approach

Four concepts underpinning our Pathways Approach

1. Bio-ecological systems theory (BRONFENBRENNER, SINCE 1979)
This theory says that development happens in the context of the system of relationships that forms the child’s environment. It emphasises the interaction between the child’s biology, their immediate family and community environment, and the societal environment that influences their development directly or indirectly.

The theory suggests that changes, conflict or strengths in any one of these layers will ripple throughout other layers, so we must consider immediate and wider influences on people.

2. Strengths, plasticity and change
We believe that everyone has strengths and capabilities, can learn, grow and change and can use their strengths as the foundation for new learning. Recent research tells us that the brain has the ability to reorganise itself by forming new connections between brain cells. This is referred to as the ‘plasticity’ of the brain. And while this happens most easily in the early childhood years, learning and change can happen at any time in a person’s life.

We understand using strengths-based approaches does not mean ignoring concerns. Rather, it means using what ‘is working’ or has worked before as the starting place for facing challenges and change.

3. Life course perspective
The life course perspective considers an individual’s life history. It focuses on the connections between individuals and the historical and socioeconomic context in which they live, including how earlier events in a person’s life can affect them.

This perspective emphasises the importance of time and context when reflecting on an individual’s behaviour. Through this perspective family is seen as a ‘collection of individuals with shared history who interact within ever-changing social contexts across ever increasing time and space’ (BENGSTON AND ALLEN 1993).

4. Continuum of need
This concept means that people have particular needs and challenges in a particular context and at a particular time. These needs and challenges are not who they are, but describe what they are experiencing.

People can move from experiencing very few needs and challenges to having very high needs and significant challenges, depending on the range of influences on their lives. This means that others need to be ready and able to respond as needs and challenges change, and change over time.
These concepts inform our beliefs about and approaches to transitions. We believe that transitions during each person’s life are important milestones that can be exciting but can also be stressful. We recognise that we must respond to and support people through times of transition.

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