Description of the STAGES Model

Based on Ken Wilber’s Integral model, STAGES describes 12 stages, two of which are new later stages. It foregrounds repeating patterns in four tiers, each one an octave later than the one before it. Because the stages are based on the four-quadrant model, the developmental description is less like climbing stairs and more like blowing up a balloon. In this model we evolve around, not just up.

There are four tiers in this Model:

Concrete: This tier contains the first four stages. We call it “concrete” because the objects that come up into consciousness are concrete, like a house, a family, food, a job, etc.

Subtle: The objects that come up in these four stages are subtle, like reasoning, or subtle emotions like empathy or vulnerability.

Awareness: We call this tier “Metaware” because Awareness objects come up into awareness; that is, you are aware that you are aware in this tier.

Unified: So called that because objects are united, non-dual and One.

There are four stages in each of these tiers. The STAGES measures these concrete, subtle, awareness and unified spaces and objects.

The Research

STAGES is a recent theory and assessment methodology for human development, created by Terri, grown out of her decades of experience in Education and years of research on development. Four research studies have been completed.

1. A theoretical study which located tiers within the Integral MAP and identified the scoring parameters of the resulting spaces. It is the first Integrally based developmental model, that incorporates quadrants, levels states, lines and types into its scoring system.

2. A study which statistically correlated the STAGES model with the most widely used and researched model of adult human development, the Loevinger lineage.

3. A replicability study showed that the scoring process can be taught to and replicated by others; Four scores were involved in that replicablity study.

4. STAGES also brings a validity study to two new, later stages of development

Because of its repeating, wave-like patterns of development, STAGES provides a rich, predictable application to any environment, person or collective.


One of the strengths of the STAGES model is that it has broad application in many dimensions of life and in a variety of fields, both personal and professional. This includes:

  • Psychotherapy, including locating the developmental level of ones shadow material
  • Coaching, which includes approaches to seeing what developmental level someone is presenting in the moment
  • Parenting, including the interface between the parents developmental level and the level of the child.
  • Business, which includes group shadow, autopoietic developmental ceilings, and the leadership gifts of each stage
  • and more

Practically, STAGES gives us a roadmap for our individual and collective, human potential in many arenas of life.

Based on the strong positive response to their initial STAGES trainings, Terri and Kim decided to form Developmental Life Designs to offer more training and events. Our offerings will benefit individuals and organizations that are interested in applying developmental models to real world challenges.


It takes three questions to indicate a developmental level. One of the questions we ask is “is the object concrete, subtle, or metaware? That helps us know which tier the stage is in. This is just the first of three questions that we can ask ourselves to help us see the developmental spaces we might be occupying. There are two other questions that help us see development with even more granularity.

As the three questions intersect with each other in various combination a set of repeating patterns reveal themselves from the first tier octave to the second tier octave to the third tier octave. When answered, they point to one’s developmental level in the moment.

These questions are used to unveil each of 12 stages of human development within these three tiers. This allows us to work with the richest possible experience: intellectually, interactively, phenomenologically, and experientially.

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Praise for the STAGES Model

“STAGES carries all the markers of a profound breakthrough in our understanding of the human condition that will be studied for all time. Once you see it, it becomes the indispensable lens that brings into focus a nuanced understanding of the human condition in the contexts of parenting, education, leadership, psychotherapy, youth work, organisational and social systems, and anywhere else you choose to look. With that understanding, new options on how to respond to the compelling problems of life come into view.”

“I’ve studied integral theory for about 15 years and have read most of Ken Wilber’s work, and confess at times to struggling to ground the theory in everyday life. Terri’s STAGES model now makes that easier and even obvious. In my life, it’s been the model that brings together theory and experience in all contexts of my busy western life. The way Terri and Kim present the work is both engaging, entertaining and so very rich in practical value.”

For More Information…

For a more detailed overall description of the model, please sign up for our email list and we’ll send you a free PDF, Overview of the STAGES Model. Our Resources page also contains articles, audio interviews and academic papers that go into more detail on various aspects of the model.

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