Foundations of the STAGES Model

This is a comprehensive exploration of the transformative potential of the STAGES model of human development. This course teaches both the STAGES theory and its underlying research. It is taught through live classes by STAGES founder Terri O’Fallon.

Preview Call

October 14, 2020

Course Schedule

Week 1

October 29

12 – 1:30 p.m. MT

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Week 2

November 5

12 – 1:30 p.m. MT

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Week 3

November 12

12 – 1:30 p.m. MT

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Week 4

November 19

12 – 1:30 p.m. MT

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For more than a century we’ve known that human beings evolve in their capacity to take on more and more complex perspectives. While an infant is fused with their world, a 5-year old has a better sense of where they end and their word begins, and the college student is able to study thinking itself. Yet development doesn’t end when we reach adulthood.

Many of us continue to develop the capacity to take on ever-greater perspectives, from the scientist who sees an “objective” reality she can study, to the social justice activist who sees embedded contexts of power and privilege. Beyond that, individuals can continue the journey of development, seeing ever-greater nested contexts of reality in the world and in how they organize themselves towards and as a part of it.

The Matrix Revealed is different every year because the STAGES model is evolutionary. Each year we take a snapshot of its evolution through constant quantitative and qualitative research which pinpoints the emerging changes that reveals implications, however small or large, for our understanding of development.


Terri O’Fallon, the founder of STAGES International, published some peer-reviewed articles this year that will inform some of the surprising new findings in her research. These include:

  • A much more nuanced understanding of how spiritual STATES and ego STAGES require each other for full spectrum development. This includes three tenets:
    1. What states are necessary but not sufficient for a stage to evolve?
    2. What are some of the natural confusions along the way that we must overcome to turn that necessary state into a mature developmental stage?
    3. How do we mature a developmental stage enough so that we can access the next required state that ushers in the next stage?
  • How can you determine one’s developmental stage when their states are very advanced?
    1. How do stages spin out horizontally in ways that are confused with vertical understandings?
    2. How do states spin out horizontally in ways that are confused with vertical development?
  • Given the evolution of this theory, what Tier patterns seem to be unfolding?
    1. How can we build theory on the next Unified Tier?
    2. Theory on how Tiers mirror each other
  • How are we seeing our language conventions grow up, and what ongoing research can we use to document this nuanced evolution?
  • How is development a shaded incline rather than stairsteps?
  • How does one experience witnessing in these later tiers, and other “spiritual states” like timelessness, boundlessness, and emptiness?
  • Other insights that influence the theory, that influence the research, that influences the STAGES scoring system and classes, that influences our individual experiences as we put our feet on the ground. Theory, documented by research which can put it into practice.

Registration is now closed.

Who This Course is For

  • Researchers in the human development field
  • Teachers of psychology (clinical and therapeutic), organizational development and other fields of human behavior
  • Appreciators of Integral Theory, human development, and the psychology of the mind
  • Anyone with an “evolutionary” orientation to life who is interested in newer models of human development theory and practice
  • Spiritual practitioners who are interesting in understanding spiritual states and ego stages more comprehensively
  • Leaders who are passionate about human understanding and connection
  • Coaches and therapists looking to better serve their clients

What You’ll Learn

  • A detailed understanding of the STAGES model and the research upon which it is based
  • The theoretical lineage of STAGES: The evolution of developmental theory
  • What makes STAGES different from other evolutionary models out there
  • How STAGES relates to Wilberian Integral Theory
  • The relationship between perspective views and stages of development
  • Preliminary findings from research on individuals at higher stages
  • How the precision and accessibility of STAGES can accelerate the adoption of developmental approaches in many fields: Current and emerging applications

Why What You Learn Matters

  • Understanding how you and others make meaning of the world is like a Rosetta Stone for understanding conflict, psychological shadow, the culture wars, and the ways in which we speak over others’ heads (or have them speak over ours).
  • This theory, when understood well, can help in very practical places in your life, from parenting to love to leadership.
  • Understanding the nuances of how humans make meaning can alleviate conflict and foster empathy understanding, and connection.

How You’ll Learn

  • Four, 90-minute sessions taught by Terri O’Fallon. All sessions will be in live video on the Zoom teleconference platform. Each session will consist of teaching along with live Q&A with participants.
  • All course sessions will be recorded and participants will have access the following day to video and audio versions of the recordings for playing and downloading.
  • Each session will be transcribed and a compilation transcript of the course will be provided in PDF format shortly after the course ends.
  • The course includes a collection of articles by Terri, all in PDF format. This includes material that has never been published.

Registration is now closed.

The course includes:

  • Four 90-minute course sessions in live video
  • Video and recordings of each session (6 hours total) for playing and downloading
  • A collection of articles by Terri, including unpublished material (PDF)
  • A compilation transcript of all course sessions (PDF)
  • An elegant “online classroom”



Session 1: STAGES Integral Theory: Meta or Mezo

Where STAGES fits within the Integral AQAL MAP
Developing the meta-mezo theory

  • Concrete, Subtle, MetAware and Unified sub-quadrants
  • The zones and mezo interpretations
  • The person perspectives: perspectives are more than pronouns
  • The importance of the identification of objects as well as processes. (Identify not only that you are aware, but what is the level of the object that you are aware of.)


Session 2: The Research Plan: Creating an Integral Research Methodology

Peirce, Semiotics and inductive, abductive and deductive cycles

  • Evolutionary aspects of the methodology-initial Integral principles. Anything that falls outside of the theory evolves the theory
    • The tiers: Concrete, Subtle, MetAware?
    • The polar pairs: Individual or collective, interior/exterior
    • Zones: outside (active) and inside (passive) (Pierce, Kegan, Aurobindo, Toyota, Soren Brier). Discriminative rules created along the way: Grammatical support

Conducting the research: The sifting of 24,000 sentence stems in four manuals. Where does each one fit in the theory, on the map, and in what perspective?

Raw data shapes the theory, and theory shapes the data. Principles emerge.

  • Concrete, Subtle, MetAware
  • Individual or collective
  • The four zones


Session 3: Inter-Relationship of the Tiers: How the individual and collective shape each other; where located on the AQAL map

Individual shapes the collective shapes the individual

  • Collective shapes the individual
  • The Concrete individual and collective
  • The Subtle individual and collective
  • The MetAware individual and collective

The three questions represent the basic perspective parameters

  • The theory
  • The statistical study
  • The literature review: Diachronic (historical) and synchronic (today’s research on development) verification
    • Development of grammar (Toyota, Peirce, Chomski…)
    • Development of collectives
    • Development of perspectives
    • Brain studies (brain waves)
    • Luhmann and the zones (Soren Brier)


Session 4: Stages and Perspective positions

Repeating perspective positions, sometimes known as “states”, build stages, beginning with the senses

275,000 word study and words that appear at different levels of development

  • Sensory words and objects
  • Perspective positions
  • Necessary but not sufficient

Scoring stages, and scoring states and shadow upon reflection

Continuous evolution: Create a scoring system that evolves with the times

  • Primary principles that hold everything, and expand with evolution
  • The objects of our perspectives evolve

The Future

  • Creating new inventories
    • Changing sentence stems for specialty protocols
    • Consistency studies
    • Cronbach’s alpha

Registration is now closed.


If you have questions about the course or need assistance registering, please contact us at

About Terri

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. From this model a new theory is evolving around the interpenetration of states and stages. 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.