12612 - Psychopathology of Development

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Quality education Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will:

1. know the key concepts of psychopathology that may occur during childhood
2. understand the communicative meaning of psychopathological symptoms
3. be able to predict and manage any aggressive, addiction, self-harm behavior
4. be able to readily recognize major symptoms of discomfort
5. be able to address and manage psychological problems in the classroom, thus enhancing one’s ability to guide relational dynamics amongst children through specific use of teamwork

Course contents

Aims and Contents

The primary goal of this course is to begin to answer one fundamental question: how can knowledge of normative development inform our efforts to elucidate the etiology of psychopathology, to assess and classify psychopathology, and to develop effective treatments for disorders (especially in children)?

The focus area is based on the premise that the understanding of normal developmental processes and outcomes is essential for understanding and treating abnormal behavior in children.

That is, psychologists establish a deeper understanding of both normal and abnormal development when each is viewed in the context of the other. Students receive broad training in theory and research in both clinical and developmental psychology.

In this course, we will consider the relationships between the fields of developmental psychology (the study of normative social, emotional, cognitive development, etc.) and clinical psychology (the studies of psychopathology, assessment, and behavior change). Developmental psychopathology represents the contributions of principles of normative development to the understanding of the origins and path of individual patterns of adaptation and maladaptation and behavior change

The course will provide theoretical perspectives as well as exposure to relevant research and consideration of clinical issues. A major emphasis will be on studies of risk, competence, and protective factors as basic concepts for the study of developmental psychopathology. You will be encouraged to think creatively about the opportunities provided by the developmental psychopathology perspective especially in the context of Maternal and Primary School.


Theoretical models in child psychopathology
The importance of context for the understanding of healthy and maladaptive behaviours
Define and classify psychopathology
Diagnosis in children: Limits and potential
The Mind-Body connection - Emotions and mental health
The main diagnostic systems in developmental psychopathology
Diagnosis, assessment, therapeutic intervention
The observation of the child
Parental relationship and child development
Major clinical diseases
Emotional intelligence in children (theoretical implications, research and methodological tools)
Classroom management: emotional aspects in the relationship between teacher and pupils
Preventing burnout among teachers



A cura di Renata Tambelli

Il Mulino editore, Bologna, 2017

Sections to study: Cap. I. Introduzione alla psicopatologia dell’infanzia (tutto). - Cap. II. I disturbi a espressione psicosomatica, del sonno e del pianto (pp. 85-91). - Cap. III. I disturbi alimentari infantili (pp. 123-135). - Cap. IV. I disturbi della regolazione emotiva e dell’attaccamento (pp.178-183). Cap. V. I disturbi dello spettro autistico (pp. 212-219). Cap. VI. I disturbi d’ansia, ossessivi-compulsivi e fobie (pp- 261-273). Cap. VII. I disturbi del tono dell’umore (pp. 311-324). Cap. VIII. I disturbi dirompenti, del controllo degli impulsi e della condotta (pp. 349-361). Cap. IX. I disturbi legati allo stress e al trauma (pp. 397-400 + 421-429). - Appendice. Area assessment clinico (pp. 441-449).

2. LA MENTE EMOZIONALE. I contributi della Psicologia Clinica, della Pedagogia e dell’educazione.

G. Mancini, R. Biolcati, G.Crocetti (a cura di)

Aracne Editrice, Roma, 2020

Sections to study: the whole book, but no pp. 115-133 (Parte I); pp. 151-188 (Parte II).


R. Agosta, G. Mancini, A. Naldi

Il Mulino, Bologna, 2021

4. Lecture slides

These will not be the object of exam questions, but students are nevertheless advised to read them in order to better understand the links among the different books.

Teaching methods

Besides the lectures, some exercises will be carried out (paper-pencil, role-playing, comments to video movies...) in order to illustrate certain aspects of Developmental Psychopathology.

Assessment methods


Written test with 3 open questions to be answered in a concise but accurate and punctual way, remaining within the limit of 15 lines for each question. Each student will have a protocol sheet available.
The open questions will focus on topics selected exclusively from the textbooks and not from the lecture notes.


Anxiety disorder: definition, etiopathogenesis, course and prognosis.
The consequences of parental conflict on the development of the child.
The tasks of the psycho-social team in assisting children.
Maltreatment in the educational relationship.
The Emotional Intelligence trait model (definition and evaluation tools).
Emotional Competence and social relations: results of main research.

Evaluation Criteria:

The final mark be expressed in thirtieth (30 points scale).
Pass is 18/30, while the maximum mark is 30/30, to which the Laude may be added. Each of the three answers must get a minimum of 6 points.

Each response will be assessed on a scale of 1 to 10 on the basis of:

- relevance, correctness and completeness of the concepts set out above;

- their theoretical and methodological analysis;

- clarity in the organisation;

- formal and syntactic correctness of the text;

- ability to make connections with practical examples.


Total available time: 1 h.

Teaching tools

Lessons will be accompanied by PowerPoint slides.

Office hours

See the website of Giacomo Mancini