Laura Humphrey, Ph.D.

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A Developmental Psycho-neurobiological Approach to Assessment of Emerging Adults

Laura Humphrey, Ph.D.


Translating the Assessment: The Products

Collaboration Conference. The assessment’s Collaboration Conference is the meeting of the emerging adult and his or her family with the professional team involved in the assessment process. The purpose of the meeting is to join together the experience of the emerging adult and the family with the collective wisdom of Drs. Viner, Monroe-Cook and Humphrey’s 90+ years of clinical experience working with troubled emerging adults. In collaboration together, we focus our collective wisdom to understand the full nature of the developmental and psycho-neurobiological difficulties that have brought the young person’s life to a halt, the matrix of factors that have contributed to those difficulties, the available strengths and resources the young person already has, and what it will take for him or her to get traction in treatment and be able to truly launch a fulfilling and meaningful life.

The Assessment Report. The results of the completed assessment are summarized in an integrative and comprehensive report, which is available to the emerging adult and their parents within two weeks of the Collaborative Conference at the conclusion of the assessment. The report incorporates all of the findings from each of the psycho-neurobiological, and life-functioning, domains summarized above, as well as the history and previous treatment records, all integrated into a cohesive whole. The report is organized into different sections corresponding to each psycho-neurobiological domain assessed and integrated into an Executive Summary at the beginning of the report. The Executive Summary reviews the results of all the tests, inventories, procedures, interviews and history, and integrates them into a coherent formulation of the patient’s psycho-neurobiological functioning, levels of self-organization and self-regulation, attachment and relationship patterns, psychosocial development, strengths and capabilities, life functioning and self-care skills, career and educational accomplishments and aspirations, degree of risk, future potential, and initiative and motivation for action. This summary naturally flows into the final section of the Executive Summary in which we present the recommendations for optimal treatment, whether at Yellowbrick or elsewhere, and life functioning in general, based on our comprehensive psycho-neurobiological assessment of the emerging adult.



The initial assessment process at Yellowbrick generates a very specific treatment plan for each emerging adult who enters either The Residence or the intensive outpatient Life Strategies Program. The assessment team presents the findings and treatment plan to the entire professional staff so that the treatment team can “hit the ground running” when the emerging adult begins the program. In addition, Dr. Humphrey meets with each emerging adult to provide specific, in-depth feedback about the results of the assessment and how these will be integrated into the treatment plan and ongoing progress evaluations. The meetings with Dr. Humphrey are very powerful and meaningful to the young person as he or she begins to mobilize their own self-understanding and motivation to change.

The Yellowbrick Assessment also provides the pre-treatment data points for tracking the progress and outcome effectiveness of Yellowbrick’s psycho-neurobiological model of care. We are in the process of beginning an extensive and intensive research study of the Yellowbrick psycho-neurobiological model of treatment in our emerging adult population. We have recruited consultation from internationally recognized clinician-scholars and are nearly ready to begin the formal research studies. We will be examining a range of critical questions including, among others, the nature and course of core autonomic self-dysregulation in response to psycho-neurobiological treatment, which has never been studied for any type of psycho-therapeutic treatment, as well as which factors at initial assessment best predict a positive outcome to Yellowbrick’s intensive treatment. Yellowbrick is committed to the highest quality of care possible and that requires that we evaluate our outcomes using well-established scientific methods in psychotherapy research.


Arnett, J. J. & Tanner, J. L. (2006). Emerging Adults in America: Coming of Age in the 21st Century. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Giedd, J. N. (2008). The teen brain: Insights from neuro-imaging. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42, 335-343.

Siegel, D. J. (1999). The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are. New York: Guilford Press.