Socio-emotional Lifespan Development

pioneering model based on Harvard findings about socio-emotional growth and development beyond childhood

Lifespan Development, the Subtle Kind.

In childhood, many aspects of our growing are tangible and visible. Every month, every year we become taller, we learn new skills and it is easy to see the progress. Think of all the pictures from kinder garden or school. You were embedded in your family, you enjoyed your first friendships and constantly learned about social interaction. All of these experiences left their mark in your brain. Even more: our brains actually get programmed and shaped by our cultural environment. It’s like a sponge, absorbing every impression, every rule, every strategy for problem solving and stores them in our subconscious Self. Thus, growth becomes more subtle, more complex and mostly invisible – even for ourself.

The Natural Process of Inner Growth

The test about our socio-emotional development allows us to realise, how beautifully, richly and uniquely our inner growth has unfolded. It’s a kind of snapshot of our unconscious self. And it’s like your memory box with pictures of your childhood or adolescence: each stage, each lifetime has its glorious moments and its downfalls. There is no “better” stage, just earlier and later ones. Every stage has its very typical resources, charming aspects and also blind spots or potential for conflicts. Like a 4 years old child is not “better” than its 2 years old brother. It simply has more experiences.

Stability is Challenged by Development

Our graphic shows the pathway of development from one stage to another. A stage is like a plateau. Once you have reached it, unconscious patterns and routines, filters, beliefs and themes enfold in every perspective of your life. Most often this enfoldment feels quite stable. The passages between stages feel more like a rollercoaster of emotions. Very often different kinds of crisis and conflicts arise to boost your development. 

Patterns of Life: Stages of Psychosocial Development by Jeanny Gucher & Teresa Zimmermann. highest excitement Vienna


Patterns of Life: Stages of Psychosocial Development by Gucher & Zimmermann. Graphic: Teresa Zimmermann. highest excitement Vienna

In average we develop from one stage to another in 10 to 15 years. But there is no direct link between age and socio-emotional growth. You can stay in each stage for your whole life – but it is unlikely. Quantitative research has shown, that most human adults (68%) are located between the stages 2 (the HEROIC SELF) and the passage to stage 4 – the EMANCIPATING PASSAGE, only a quarter (25%) make it to stage 4, the ETHICAL SELF. The next passage is very special because of a deep neurological integration of our brains, hence its name: TRANSFORMING PASSAGE. Just 6% of us are experiencing this phase during their lifetime. Stage 5 is rarely being reached (1%) and if so, usually rather late in life. The great and humble standouts in society, well known for their service to mankind over hundreds of years make up the stages 6 and 7.

If you want to find out where you are, on the path of human growth, click here, it’s only going to take you about 30 minutes!