Stages of Career Development

Donald Super was the psychologist who is most associated with writing about career development. It’s an old theory but there aren’t any newer ones to take its place.  Super’s theory goes like this:

Life has 5 distinct career stages, each with certain tasks and issues to resolve:

1. Growth         age 4-14          Learn about the world, develop work-related attitudes,                  develop a sense of purpose, identify with others.

2. Exploration   age15-24         Crystallize career preference, specify and try an occupation.

3. Establishment   25-44           Stabilize in a job, advance.

4. Maintenance     45-65          Hold job and update, innovate, reevaluate.

5. Disengagement 65+  Decelerate work, plan and implement other activities.

Source: The Journey of Adulthood, Bjorklund

If you are an early career therapist, “What Do I Say?” is an essential, comforting addition to your professional library.  you can purchase it at

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