Over the years, there have been dozens of psychologists who have proposed hundreds of different theories regarding human development. These theories are read by educational professionals, who incorporate the parts of the theories that they believe in, into their own personal philosophy regarding childhood development, what should and should not be done.
School counselors by the nature of their training are developmental specialists, and in practice, professional judgments about a person's problems are often based on developmental concerns. For instance, school consultation often focuses on whether problems manifested by a child are "normal" developmental concerns or whether there are other explanations for the behavior. It is a good strategy therefore to review the developmental theories to help understand a counselor's possible view regarding the needs of individuals during counseling and at different points in their lives. The goal of this paper is to highlight some classical ideas from the developmental literature and present contemporary ideas relating to concerns of individuals in the 21st century.
The major developmentalists reviewed are Arnold Gesell, Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg and Erik Erikson.
Erik Erikson proposed eight developmental stages as an elaboration of Freud's psychosexual stages. Erikson believed that an individual's interactions with others characterize development and that successful social interactions constitute the major task to be achieved at each stage. Further, healthy development results from the successful resolution of psychosocial crises encountered at each stage of development, and failure to resolve these crises results in problems. Successful resolution of each stage leads progressively to hope and trust, autonomy, initiative and purpose, industry and competence, identity, intimacy, care, and wisdom and integrity. Movement from one stage to the next is conditioned on successful completion of each developmental stage.
Counselors are concerned with how people think, because problem solving, decision-making and other interventions are governed by...