DRBI Defined

April 23, 2024

DRBI stands for Developmental Relationship-Based Intervention.

DRBI is a lifespan model of human development that integrates levels of social/emotional developmental functioning with individual sensory and somatosensory processing (our ability to interpret and integrate sensory information), and places these against the background of being with and relating to others in relationships.  

At the core of this model is the idea that emotional affect drives the planning of and execution of action. Affect is the reason why you do something.  It’s the WHY in going to the store (because you’re hungry), changing the channel (because your bored), and leaning in for a hug (because you’re in love).  How this affect is expressed will depend on the individual sensory profile of the person.  And this affect is expressed, nurtured, and fulfilled within meaningful relationships with others. We are born into, grow within, and are nurtured by relationships with others, and everything we do is nourished, flourished, and fulfilled within the context of meaningful relationships. At least that’s the case when a life is thriving.  

The D in DRBI stands for Development.  

Within this domain the model looks across the lifespan of a person, from cradle to grave, and identifies 16 separate functional emotional developmental Capacities, or FEDCs.  The newborn infant, only several seconds old and in the arms of a loving parent or caregiver, experiences the first FEDC of sensing the world (light, sound, smell, texture, and taste), along with the first wisps of loving attachment with another human. Thus begins a cascade of internal and external sensations and experiences that the child turns into action, reaction, and interaction with others and the world around them. He learns what he can and can’t do with stuff, to stuff, and because of stuff.   As the child ages and gains experience, he harnesses new cognitive and emotional capacities that support his experience: From abstract thinking (FEDC 6), seeing the forest through the trees (FEDC 8), planning for the future (FEDC 11), creating and being in a family of one’s own making (FEDC 15), and finally to the golden sunset of reflecting on one’s life journey (FED 16).  For every phase of life there is an FEDC to enrich the experience.  

However, the dynamic dance of development can't be understood without recognizing one's individual differences. How one experiences the world can have a big impact on how one feels about the experience, within and without.  

Every human is born with an individual and unique blueprint for experiencing and engaging with the sensory world.  We all taste an apple, feel the weight of our bodies while submerged in a bath, and hear the crashing and clanging of drums during a musical concert.  But how we taste, feel, and hear will be different depending on our individual sensory profile, and this profile can change over time as we age.  We are also unique in how our bodies move through space.  Whereas the FEDCs are the WHAT of life (WHAT is happening and WHAT is our developmental capacity to engage with the happening?), the Individual difference the HOW (HOW are we experiencing what’s happening with our body and senses?).  

The R and B in DRBI stands for Relationship-Based.

We are herd animals by evolutionary design, wired to survive and thrive in the company of community.  When we think about the infant and young child (or any stage of development, thanks to our FEDCs), we see that the new developing mind and body must be in the company of caring, responsive others who can meet our needs, dust us off when we fall, bolster the final steps to and clutching of the tree branch, and be ready to celebrate and critique our triumphs and trials.  It is through relationship that we know we are who we are, what it is exactly that we do (or close enough depending on if the person is paying attention!), and what we learn about what it is that we’re doing.  Relationship is the WITH of our experience, as in WITH whom we are sharing this WHAT that we are doing and the HOW we are feeling about the experience.  

The I in DRBI stands for Intervention.

Intervention is a customized, structured approach designed to support and promote healthy development. Designed with a deep understanding of one's developmental stage and capacities, Intervention in the DRBI domain serves to build upon an individuals existing strengths and capabilities. Intervention is the WAY growth and progress are cultivated; it is through the collaboration of multidisciplinary teams, who know the individual's unique characteristics and the importance of meaningful relationships, that we can receive holistic, comprehensive support that demonstrates positive outcomes.

At the intersection of nature and nurture is where you will find the DRBI model best expressed, for it here that the individual expression of functional emotional capacities is embraced through meaningful relationships with others.

Positive Development is the only provider in autism care to employ a holistic approach through the Developmental Care model. Unlike traditional practices where care team members operate independently, our clinicians collaborate, enhancing each other's skills across disciplines to ensure individualized and progressive treatment for every child. Learn more about our developmental care programs and services.

Interested to learn more?

We’d love to learn more about the needs of your family.
Reach out at any time.
Schedule a call