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Levinson's Stages of Adult Development Theory

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  1. 0:08 Levinson's Adult Development Theory
  2. 1:13 Becoming an Adult
  3. 2:59 Introspection Stages
  4. 4:31 Middle & Late Adulthood
  5. 5:11 Lesson Summary
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Taught by

Jade Mazarin

Jade is a psychotherapist in private practice with an MA in counseling and a Board Certification in Christian Counseling. She is also a freelance writer on mental health topics and spirituality.

There has been a lot of talk about the development of children. But do people continue to develop into their adult years? Psychologist Daniel Levinson thought so. In this lesson, we will look into his seven stages of adult development.

Levinson's Adult Development Theory

There's a saying that goes, 'The only thing constant is change.' I bet Daniel Levinson would have agreed with that. He was a psychologist who focused his time on investigating adult development, and the changes in life that create it.

It was his belief that adults have a certain life structure, or pattern of life comprised of one's social dealings, relationships, and work life. This life structure is continuously affected by various seasons in life. The two reappearing seasons in life that Levinson stressed were the Stable Period, or a time of consistency when a person makes crucial life choices, and the Transitional Period, or the end of a certain life stage and beginning of a new one.

Levinson identified seven specific stages during adult development in his theory of the seasons of life. These stages include Early Adult Transition (age 17-22), Entering the Adult World (22-28), Age 30 Transition (28-33), Settling Down (33-40), Mid-Life Transition (40-45), Entering Middle Adulthood (45-50), and Late Adulthood (60+).

Becoming an Adult

Meet Doris. Doris is 70 years old and has a long awaited visit today from her granddaughter, Becky. Becky has just come home from college and has been sharing her new experiences with Doris. As Becky shares what it's like to be away from home for the first time, Doris starts thinking of her own memories from college. Even after Becky leaves, Doris continues day dreaming. She thinks about college more and then moves on to thinking about the other seasons of her life.

According to Levinson, the time Doris left for college (17-22), was a key beginning stage in her adult development. It is the first time when Doris separated from her parents and began to decrease her emotional attachment to them. It was the first time she began planning out her adult life. Levinson called this time one's Early Adult Transition.

Doris continues to think about the next part of her young life. When she was in her twenties (22-28), she had her first set of years living and working in the adult world - working as a receptionist and later as an office manager. Levinson called this stage Entering the Adult World and believed this was the time for Doris to create her life structure. In that, he believed that young adults address four major tasks during this time: forming a dream and preparing for it, forming an occupation, forming mentor relationships, and forming love relationships, marriage, and family.

Levinson considered the dream to be one's vision, desires, and core plan for his or herself in this world. This includes career and family. Doris recalls wondering often about when she would get married and start a family. Then, when she was 26, she met her husband.

Introspection Stages

When Doris was in her 30s, she entered what Levinson called her Age 30 Transition. In this stage, a significant change of life structure takes place. Often this happens as a result of a crisis or when someone evaluates their present life and asks if it is what he or she wants it to be. It usually takes place between the ages of 28 and 33. For Doris, she had always wanted to be an interior designer, though she took other jobs. When she turned 32, she decided to go back to school to study interior design.

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