We seek to create cultures, contexts, systems and fields that mirror a healthy interconnected web of all life, of individuals, of communities, of the planet and beyond.
We offer programs and services to individuals and organizations based on The STAGES Matrix. Our offerings provide methods and processes that allow participants to grow and develop in a healthy way, and to observe their development more clearly. This allows them and to make assessments of the most important parts of their lives while taking into account the effect their choices make on others. With this kind of clarity they can better see their current situation and creatively map out how to understand problems, actualize potential, and create the conditions for healthy future development and more positive, personal impact that ripples outward into the world.
We seek to embody the highest expression of the values embedded in our vision for the future. Core values include:
- Love, care, and compassion as expressed through a developmental understanding of the world
- Integrity in how we offer this model to others
- Developmental rights where everyone has the right to be where they are, without judgment and without them needing to change
- Honoring all parts of the developmental spectrum since all are vital for the healthy expression of our collective humanity
- Methodological rigor in presenting this model and in allowing to evolve with the influx of new data
- Adaptability and agility with real-world applications
- Ensuring our programs will have an evolutionary impact far beyond the direct participants
- Demonstrating, with our lives and our relationships, what this model makes possible
- Creating the conditions favorable to the emergence of more complex states of ego development while never attempting to engineer outcomes or favor one level over another
About The Model: What Is STAGES?
STAGES is a model of ego development starting at infancy and moving into increasing levels of differentiation and integration through adulthood.
A stage is a coherent and internally consistent belief system that describes how someone is likely to think, feel, and behave in various life situations. A stage is the level from which we consistently make meaning of life’s experiences.
The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget developed stages for children which most of us know, including sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational. One could think of STAGES both bringing more vigor to this original model and also continuing it into a much fuller expressions of ego development throughout adulthood.
The STAGES model has 12 distinct stages and 6 different kinds of perspectives: from the first person perspective of an infant to the third person perspective of the scientist to the 6th person perspective of the most advanced ego stage yet known to us. This model is based on Terri O’Fallon’s research, and is put into context by using the theoretical frameworks of the philosopher Ken Wilber as well as other leading developmental psychologists such as Suzanne Cook-Greuter and Jane Loevinger.
This model is not a hierarchy like a ladder or a staircase. It is more like a balloon, where human perspectives evolve around and as our egos, not merely “on top” of an existing structure. One of the best ways to understand this model is that it allows us to see where and how we make meaning, and what is an “object” of our conscious versus an object that we are “subject” to.
For instance, while some adults are their relationships (meaning they are subject to them; or what therapists might call codependent), others are able to have relationships. In other words, they can have a relationship to their relationships. This means the relationship is an “object” they can see with their minds, not something that is part of their self-identify.
That is one example of hundreds that could be given to show how humans evolve in their capacity to develop awareness of concrete objects like bicycles and toys; subtle objects such as thoughts and feelings, and relationships to relationships; and even metaware objects, like awareness of awareness itself.
There are three tiers in the STAGES, each with four parts:
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.
The objects that come up in these four stages are subtle, like reasoning, or subtle emotions like empathy or vulnerability.
We call this tier “MetAware” because Awareness objects come up into awareness; that is, you are aware that you are aware in this tier.
The STAGES model can predict how we are likely to understand our experience of ourselves and our world.
While STAGES cannot tell what someone will believe or think, it can tell us a great deal about how someone will hold their beliefs or their thoughts.
For instance, STAGES can help us to better understand what is considered a fundamentalist mindset–which can sometimes be religious in its orientation–but this stage of development does not always manifest through religious belief. Someone could, for instance, hold an atheistic, scientific, or relational truth in a fundamentalist manner, even if the thought or belief itself seems to be much more complex.
By studying and understanding the attributes of all the stages of ego development yet known to us, we can better understand how others are making meaning of themselves, their worlds, their challenges, and their potentials. This can have profound implications for those of us who interact with many different kinds of people, and who may normally assume that we are mostly all the same in our beliefs and values.
STAGES can help us to understand others’ meaning-making much more precisely and, in so doing, better ensure that we’re listening fully and speaking in a manner that can be understood.
STAGES can offer a powerful bridge to more effective and more compassionate communication because we stop presuming that most people are simply like us in how they see themselves and their world.
STAGES Certifications and Assessments are specifically designed to bring the rigor and predictive qualities of the model to those professionals who are best suited to use this work inside of their practices, businesses, and personal self-development.
The Research Behind the Model
STAGES is a recent theory and assessment methodology for human development created by Terri O’Fallon, based on her decades of experience in education and years of research on development. Four research studies have been completed.
- 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.
- A study which statistically correlated the STAGES model with the most widely used and researched model of adult human development, the Loevinger lineage.
- A replicability study showed that the scoring process can be taught to and replicated by others; Four scores were involved in that replicability study.
- 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.
- Peer reviewed: The research that was reviewed includes our use of Individual/Collective and Active/Passive (and the “Singular” and “Plural” that emerges from the tandem-cycling up the spiral this leap-frogging creates). It also includes a history of the model, and the validated adaptations that were made of our four-stage MetAware tier, including longitudinal research showing how people move from one stage to the next in this latest researched tier. Heliyon, March 2020.
STAGES is currently being widely used in many different areas of the world.
Therapists, coaches, educators, teachers, and other motivated individuals wanting to harness the power and predictive capacities of STAGES are using this model and work to better serve their clients, students, and activities in the world.
STAGES is helping senior leaders and founders to better assess their own organization so they can understand how to motivate, inspire, and satisfy the needs of those who bring the institution to life, no matter if that include students and teachers, non-profits and their clients, or think tanks and their principle partners.
CEOs and founders can better assess their company culture, leadership teams, and employees, and use those assessments to clarify how they are working and communicating to create the most harmonious culture, efficiency, shared outlook, and common values to motivate and inspire.
A wide range of issues are benefiting from the developmental understanding supported by STAGES, such as climate change, pedagogy, psychology, conflict resolution, economics, social justice, and many other fields and areas of interest and concern.
About Terri & Kim
Terri O’Fallon, PhD
Terri O’Fallon, PhD is an Integral scholar whose research spans 40 years, including eleven research studies conducted in various colleges, public schools, and private research venues. Her most recent theory, and the culmination of a lifetime of work, is the STAGES model of human development. STAGES integrates several developmental models and is informed by Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory and Terri’s own research, to form a robust and predictive map that is being used by numerous scholars, practitioners, and leaders throughout the world.
Terri’s theory and research interests are founded in a passionate practice of auspicious curiosity, learning, and marinating in life. Teaching has been a theme throughout Terri’s life. Beginning as a preschool and first-grade teacher, she has taught every grade, including special education and the gifted. She has held the role of elementary school principal and public school-district superintendent and taught in seven colleges and universities, with over fifty years experience in teaching from pre-kindergarten through post-doctorate studies.
Her interest in life span development naturally arose from her experience in the field of education. She has a PhD in Integral Studies with a concentration in Learning and Change in Human Systems, and Masters degrees in Spiritual Direction and Special Education. These embodied experiences inform her primary theory, research, and teaching theme: growing up is waking up throughout the lifespan.
Ordinariness has been the trajectory of Terri’s life. She is the eldest of seven siblings, parent of two adult children, and grandparent of two granddaughters. Steeped in philosophy, research, teaching, and a myriad of spiritual practices, her path continues to bring her solidly home to the practical living, breathing appreciation of the simple things in life.
We wake up every morning. We grow up, quite naturally. We live through joys and sorrows, and face our family, friends, and neighbors every day. We grow old and watch our life approach its end as we apprehend the birth of our grandchildren. With the gifts of so many experiences, the highs and lows of being, what seems to always remain, is what we were advised to value from birth: listening, gratitude, compassion, love, forgiveness, generosity, light-heartedness—lifelong lessons that never seem to end.
Kim Barta, MA
Kim Barta, MA is an internationally-recognized licensed psychotherapist, coach, spiritual guide, and speaker. His work is founded in an experiential practice that works with many different kinds of cultures and challenges, from severe mental illness and trauma to supporting the fullest expression of one’s humanity. Kim’s expertise now includes integrating developmental theory with the day-to-day work of being an active therapist and healer.
Kim graduated with a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Montana in 1984. He pursued a masters in an interdisciplinary program that combined psychology, social work, counseling, and sociology for a broad perspective for healing. He lived with a Native American shaman and did his masters thesis in shamanism and modern psychotherapy.
After developing and implementing a successful training program in the construction industry for people suffering from severe mental illness such as bipolar, schizophrenia, and Axis 2 Disorders, Kim pursued outdoor leadership, becoming an instructor with the international Outward Bound schools. Kim went on to develop a mental health treatment program for children and youth that was adopted by three hospitals in Montana. In 1992, Kim and his wife, Dr. Katie Carter ND, co-founded and continue managing a mind/body healing arts clinic in Polson, Montana, nestled beneath the high Mission Mountains on the shore of Flathead Lake, in the Flathead Indian nation.
Ever seeking better ways of healing in the life of self, other, families and children, Kim has developed several successful new forms of therapy that lead to deep and rapid healing. These therapies have proven themselves effective with a wide range of issues, including: depression, anxiety, PTSD, anger, addiction, chronic pain, physical illnesses and weight loss and personal growth. People utilize his psychology/coaching/spiritual guidance practice, on a global level.
Currently, Kim has joined his sister, Dr. Terri O’Fallon, to present workshops and trainings on STAGES, a new model of human development developed by Dr. O’Fallon. Kim’s long history of working with such a wide variety of clients has made his expertise invaluable. He brings nuance and direct application into the STAGES model, allowing it to be integrated into the dynamic and fluid world of psychotherapy and coaching.