As you have probably noticed, most theories of development focus on childhood to adulthood, then have little to say about how adults develop. Yet the desire to develop is part of human nature. Adult psychological development, therefore, is often a result of individual intention and effort. Other factors affecting it are change, which introduces new influences, needs, pressures and adaptations, the desire for fulfilment, which urges the individual to find means of self-expression and achievement that meet his or her particular desires, and the influence of others, such as one’s group, friends, social groups etc. each of which has its own expectations, ways of doing things and attitudes that will influence the individual’s development.

Schlossberg (1984) believes that it not age that determines how we develop, but life events and our experience of them. He identified the following issues as critical issues at any stage of our lives:

  • 1-belonging
  • 2-feeling valued
  • 3-autonomy
  • 4-competence
  • 5-identity
  • 6-intimacy
  • 7-commitment
  • 8-renewal (personal energy).

As these issues arise in our lives, we may be motivated to develop new skills, knowledge, attitudes, and to develop new behaviours in order to resolve them. Although they say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, the fact is, the old dog can learn new tricks when motivated to do so.

Human beings can develop psychologically at any stage of life, even on their death beds.