Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counseling and Personnel

First Advisor

Dr. Edward L. Trembley

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Betz


While developmental theories have been used as a diagnostic tool in counseling adults, they do not seem to have been used as a basis for treatment. The author reviews the theories of Piaget, Kohlberg, Perry and Erikson and abstracts from them a series of basic statements and corollaries that form the core of a theory of developmental counseling and psychotherapy.

With these statements as a background, the author discusses the persons involved in therapy, the purposes of therapy, and the stages of therapy. In the considerations on the initial stage of therapy, emphasis is placed on the responsibility of the therapist to determine that the client-therapist relationship facilitates growth in the client's present stages. It is noted that clients attempt, consciously and/or unconsciously, to form a series of relationships with the therapist that are comfortable. When the therapist perceives the relationship to be appropriate for the client's continuing development, he or she may accept the role provided by the client. Otherwise the therapist must alter the relationship so that he or she may assume a more helpful role vis-a-vis the client. An understanding of the characteristics of the stages of life-task development, as presented by Erikson, is seen to be particularly relevant in determining the appropriateness of the client-therapist relationship.

In the considerations on the intermediate stage of therapy emphasis is placed on the selection of treatment techniques that provide the client opportunity to exercise stage-related characteristics and that maximize the client's demonstrated strengths. The characteristics of the cognitive stages as they are presented by Piaget, Kohlberg and Perry are reviewed briefly in terms of the treatment modalities which might be used with clients at various levels of development. It is not the author's intent to devise new strategies but to indicate the basis on which therapists might select a strategy from those available in the literature and/or devise new strategies themselves.

In order to clarify the concepts presented as a theory of developmental counseling and psychotherapy, the author presents five case studies. Discussed in terms of the clients' developmental stages are both the relationships formed between clients and counselor and some of the treatment modalities employed. For further clarification, the concepts of Developmental Counseling and Psychotherapy are shown in the context of the historical development of psychoanalytic psychotherapy and client-centered therapy. Discussed in detail are the notions of relationship, transference, countertransference, and resistance. Particular attention is also given to the information which developmental therapists seek from their clients, the inclusion of both past and future aspects of client's lives as they impact the predominant emphasis on the clients' present development, and treatment planning.

Finally, Developmental Counseling and Psychotherapy is analyzed as a theory. The author notes that it is a theory based, not on controlled observation, but on clinical experience and previously explicated developmental theories. As such the theory of Developmental Counseling and Psychotherapy may be seen to be a framework for integrating principles of human development with the process of counseling and psychotherapy.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access