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What Is Psychosocial Development?

I’ve always wondered why children, adolescents, and adults go through certain psychological changes. Each transformation seems to build upon the previous one and pave the way for development. One of the most popular and influential theories on this subject came from Erik Erikson, a protégé of Sigmund Freud. Erikson believed that personality develops in a series of stages he coined as psychosocial development.

Stage One- Trust vs. Mistrust (ages birth-one year)

This is the stage Erikson describes as the dependence stage.  An infant is absolutely reliant on a caregiver for food, love, warmth, safety, and nurture.  If this individual does a proper job, the infant will develop a certain level of trust and security.  Although, if the caregiver fails to deliver sufficiently, the child will not develop an ample amount of trust.  You can see how this could be a problem in the future.

Stage Two- Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (ages one-three years)

This stage focuses on a child developing a greater sense of personal control.  Kids at this age are starting to perform basic actions and make simple decisions relevant to what they favor. This development assists children in being more independent and trusting their own judgments.

Stage Three- Initiative vs. Guilt (ages three- six years)

This stage is considered the preschool years. This period focuses on children having a sense of purpose.  Children are likely to feel guilty if they are regularly stifled when trying to assert power. This guilt does not allow them to take as much initiative to be a leader or to try new things.  Children in this phase should be allowed to explore and have experiences that allow them to prove to themselves that they are able.

Stage Four- Industry vs. Inferiority (ages six- eleven years)

In this stage, children start to develop a sense of pride through accomplishment and social interactions.  Children are encouraged by a caregiver to acquire a feeling of competence in their skills. On the contrary, they begin to doubt their abilities when they don’t receive encouragement. Kids find a balance that leads them to an asset known as competence.

Stage Five- Identity vs. Role Confusion (ages twelve- nineteen years)

This is often known as the turbulent teenage years.  This time plays an essential role in developing personal identity and will influence behavior for the rest of a person’s life.  During this period, children explore independence and develop a sense of self. When properly encouraged through this stage, kids will emerge with a strong sense of self, independence, self control.  Those who do not properly experience this stage may develop insecurity and confusion about themselves.

Stage Six- Intimacy vs. Isolation (ages twenty-twenty-five)

This is the time when individuals explore personal relationships. A strong sense of personal identity is fundamental in order to acquire a close relationship with others. Emotional isolation, loneliness, and depression could surface if personal identity is weak.

Stage Seven- Generativity vs. Stagnation (ages twenty-six-sixty-four)

This is adulthood, folks!  The focus of this period is on family and career.  Those who are prosperous in this stage believe they are contributing to their homes and community.  The opposite end may consider themselves unproductive. Care is the major virtue tackled during this stage.

Stage Eight- Integrity vs. Despair (ages sixty-five-death)

This final psychosocial stage occurs during old age and focuses on reflection of life.  People look back on the events of their lives and either deem them successful or regretful.  The individual is left with either a feeling of accomplishment or of bitterness.  

For more information about development or any other counseling or mental health issue, we are here for you!  Please contact Amy Wine Counseling Center at 832.421.8714, we are all in this together!


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