STAGES Theory: The Matrix Revealed

A 4-week Online Course with Terri O’Fallon PhD

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.

Uncover the ways human development can deepen your understanding of yourself and your world.

STAGES Theory: The Matrix Revealed provides participants with a live, step-by-step breakdown of one of the most cutting-edge models of human development available today. You will learn the STAGES model — and you’ll also learn the research that drove its development, as well as what it means to apply the theory in your life, your practice, and in your day-to-day interactions.

Watch Terri O’Fallon and a very short introduction to STAGES

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Course Sessions, via Zoom

September 5

10 am – noon
Mountain Time Zone – US

My Timezone

September 12

10 am – noon
Mountain Time Zone – US

My Timezone

September 19

10 am – noon
Mountain Time Zone – US

My Timezone

September 26

10 am – noon
Mountain Time Zone – US

My Timezone

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

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
  • The unique features of STAGES that represent an advance in human development theory
  • 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

The course consists of 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.
  • The course will be hosted in an elegant online learning platform.

About the STAGES Model

STAGES is a recent theory and assessment methodology, which builds on modern research into human development. STAGES was developed by Terri O’Fallon PhD, with support from the research team of John Kesler, Geoff Fitch, and Venita Ramirez, and has been further defined in practical, grounded approaches by Kim Barta. This developmental model evolved from two previous generations of developmental research, first in the 1970’s by Jane Loevinger, then into the late 1990’s by Susanne Cook-Greuter. It integrates this lineage with an integral framework inspired by Ken Wilber’s AQAL model. The STAGES Matrix incorporates new theoretical insights into human development and is grounded in statistical research. Like all theories of development, STAGES articulates several stages of development through which people move as they grow. Beyond this, there are several distinguishing features of the STAGES developmental framework and assessment that make it unique:

  • The STAGES Matrix describes 12 stages of human perspective development: six early and six late person perspectives. The resulting spectrum of development covers the earliest through the latest range of perspectives of human development.
  • Describes stages of perspective development and their repeating patterns, helping us see how we can progress through life and the complex cycles of experience that support us in our growth.
  • Shows how neurobiological structures coincide with and support perspective stage development.
  • Advances our understanding of the later stages of perspective development, articulating three new late stages of development in a third Metaware tier, foregrounding awareness of awareness.  Based on repeating patterns, it also predicts four stages in a Unified tier of development for which research validation does not yet exist.
  • Applies to both our center of gravity or core stage of perspective development, the range of perspective stages that are typically navigated by an individual, and our transient, contextual actions. While the STAGES assessment applies the model to our core stage of development, there are many other applications of the framework and the underlying assessment methodology beyond personal stage assessments.

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Session 1: STAGES Integral Theory: Meta or Mezo

  • Where STAGES fits within the Integral AQAL MAP
  • Developing the meta-mezo theo
    • 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
  • Triangulation/verification
    • 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
    • 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”

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    After you register you’ll receive a receipt, a welcome email, and instant access to the online learning platform.

    Have Questions? Need More Info? 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.