Welcome to the thoughtful counselor I am Margaret Lamar. And today I'll be talking with a group of researchers who've recently recently written a book looking at lifespan development through the lens of context and culture. The title is aptly lifespan development, cultural and contextual applications for the helping professionals and so excited to talk to them today. We'll be introducing this project today and getting to know the authors and then I'll be taking talking with each of them in a later podcast to dig in a little deeper about how they're conceptualizing lifespan development. But today, I'm thrilled to welcome doctors Kelly Coker, Kristi Cannon, Savitri Dixon-Saxon and Karen Roller. So welcome to the thoughtful counselor. And I want to start with Dr. Kelly Coker, Kelly. First, you know, tell us who you are any professional or personal identities relevant to this project. And then help us understand what cultural and contextual applications of lifespan development means.
Great, thank you so much, Margaret. And thank you for having us. We're very excited, I think, to talk about this project. This has really been a labor labor of love for all of us for gosh, what now the past year and a half or so, ladies, I am a professor at Palo Alto university and have been a counselor educator for many years. And over my time, as a counselor educator, I have certainly had an opportunity to teach a lot of courses in masters level training programs, including lifespan development. And for me, lifespan development has often been one of those courses that students take, because it is one that they have to take. It's one that's required by CACREP. It's one that's required to help get them ready for state licensure exams. And often the takeaways from that course historically have been, who are some of the primary lifespan development theorists? And how many can I learn about and how many can I memorize? So for me, as I was really thinking about lifespan development, and I guess this was after the last time I taught the course,
it came to mind because I'd been working with Springer publishing anyway, on another book, and we started talking about what are what are some areas of textbook development that really could go in different directions. And it really came to mind that lifespan development is one of those areas that we really could try to make it less dry, more meaningful, and more applicable to work we actually do with clients. So having worked with Dr. Roller at Pau, who I knew also taught this course. And then considering previous collaborations with my colleagues, Dr. Cannon and Dr. Dixon-Saxon. I thought this would be a really exciting group to come together and kind of reimagine how we look at lifespan development.
Thanks, Kelly. Next, we'll meet Dr. Kristi Cannon. Kristi, tell us about yourself and what drew you to this project.
Thanks, Margaret. And I will share Kelly's enthusiasm for this project and for the opportunity I've had just to work with these wonderful women over the course of this book's development. So my name is Christy cannon. I am currently director of counseling programs at Southern New Hampshire University and I've been a counselor educator since 2007. And so been in the field of private practice have worked in university settings in edge, you know, counselor education perspective and then in administration. And really, I think what drew me to this outside of just being asked by some colleagues that I love and admire was conversations that Kelly and I had had around lifespan development and the way Is that a really unique to the individual that we are working with. And I've always been driven as a practitioner to teach very applied and practical ways of doing counseling. And I think especially for Masters level clinicians, the idea of learning how to do this is so there's so you know, there has to be a right way, give me a textbook and let me follow this textbook to its its perfect tee and I will get it. And I think that's really what I found when I went into clinical practice is Wow, how not prepared I am to look at the cultural and contextual complexities that are impacting my clients on a daily basis. So I was really passionate about recognizing their strengths and what we learned. But there are so many places that we need to enhance that as educators and preparing people to work with other people and really looking, I think, at certainly the social justice elements of our professions and the ways that the society has changed in in certainly across time, but certainly in recent years, just it really felt like now is the time that we need to be spending more time and effort looking at these unique ways of development and how that does have an impact and having conversations that aren't just relegated to the last few paragraphs or portions of a chapter in a book.
Thanks, Kristi. Next up, we have Dr. Savitri Dixon-Saxon. So Savitri, again, introduce yourself, tell us about who you are and how you joined this project and what was exciting about it for you.
So like you said, my name is Savitri Dixon-Saxon, and I have spent much of the last two decades as an administrator, but I'm trained as a counselor, educator and part of that administration was for counseling and counselor education programs. But I've been very fortunate that colleagues like Kelly have kept me connected, you know, helped me find avenues to stay connected to the profession. Margaret, I remember very distinctly in my own graduate training that occurred well over two decades ago, feeling as we talked about lifespan development that some of my experiences were missing, or they were add ons. At the end of the discussion, I went to a doc program were focusing on many of us in that program focused on psychosocial identity development. And I had a need to, to stretch what I had and what I was learning about development by developing my own model of psychosocial identity development for African American women, one that focused on positive self definition and internalized oppression. And it was rooted in needing to find a space for me to explain how my development was different from what I was seeing and how the women and my family's development was different at that time, I was very focused on the leadership development of traditional college aged students. And I noticed that in many of those communities, we weren't really focusing on African American Women's identity. And I wanted to understand what was happening there.
Yeah, I love that. Just highlighting the need for our profession to continue to grow and include more people in the research we're doing and theories. We're developing things, Dimitri. And then finally, we have Dr. Karen roller. Karen, tell us about yourself and what drew you to this project.
I thank you, Margaret. So having taught lifespan, when Kelly reached out about this project, I was really honored to be invited to join and meet her lovely colleagues and learn and grow through a time when we were all sheltering in place of putting our heart for the clients that we've served historically, and the students that we are aiming to develop at the center of having a more inclusive textbook. And when I took a lifespan course in the late 90s, when I launched to serve as a clinician for my first batch of clients, I really was unprepared for the reality of my client's histories. And that drove me back to a doctoral program to learn more. My doctoral program did a much more thorough job of helping me understand how history has informed our development as a species and then as cultures as communities as families within these nested sets, stems that we inhabit. So from that place, I really wanted to bring the science and the research that we have now about our development as a species, and as individuals within that species, constantly impinged upon by the circumstances we find ourselves born into by the accident of our birth. So this was a wonderful opportunity to work with other Counselor Educators who really understand the sensitivity of the newborn, and the family and community and context. And I'm very grateful to have been able to contribute.
Thanks, I love hearing all of your different experiences and places and that you came from. And just imagine how I've read just a little snippet of this book. But I can imagine how rich the whole thing must be given all of your different backgrounds and and journeys that you took to get here. So I want to just start, you know, really, from the beginning, and how you think about lifespan development differently than other authors or researchers have, I guess, what, what makes this approach really unique? And Kelly, we'll start with you and others feel free to jump in?
Yeah, definitely. And happy to have others add to these ideas. From me, they're really kind of three elements that stood out as we worked through this book and worked through the material. One is we had to hold that balance between giving students the information that they do need to have in a graduate training program, and doing so in a way where we really encouraged them to critically analyze what we were providing to pay attention to the research that's offered that might either be in support of the theory, we present or might even poke holes in the theory we present. So really trying to present that kind of balanced approach sort of a both and philosophy. Yes, here is Erikson, it's important for you to learn about Erickson. And it's important for you to understand some of the limitations of Erickson's theory, at different ages and stages, and with people from different backgrounds, different cultural identities, and different cultural experiences, like being a collectivist culture versus an individual culture. So that to me was the first thing, how do we kind of hold space for those two pieces, learn the theory, and also poke holes in it. And don't just take it as wrote, don't just look at us as your textbook authors or your professors, as the sage on the stage. And once we tell you, here's the theory, you've learned everything you need to know. The second thing we really wanted to do is we wanted this to be something that would help inform clinical practice. Sometimes there's a disconnect, I think, between courses that are maybe more didactic, and you know Margaret, like you teach research and evaluation, and I know you sort of have had that experience and and have done some really exciting things to make that class come alive for future clinicians. We thought the same thing was possible with lifespan development. How do I as a clinician, integrate these theories and understanding of development in actual work that I do with clients, so really having it politically focused was also important. And the third thing I thought we did that was so unique, and I don't think you will find in a lifespan development book anywhere else, is that as we talked about our ages and stages of development, we started with a chapter on culture and context. We didn't even start talking about the developmental theories first, right? So we said, Alright, let's talk about the the stage of infancy and early childhood. But let's talk about what's going on contextually. In that stage. Let's talk about some really relevant cultural implications. And then then the next chapter will tell you about Piaget, and will tell you about Freud. But we've already presented this in a cultural contextual way, using a case study. And I think for all of us, we kind of fell in love with our cases that we created for this book, because that felt really important to these need to feel like real people, real clients, real families, real couples, and if we can connect with them in that way, and then they kind of anchor our discussion of the theories, then again, it provides that opportunity for critical analysis. So I don't know ladies, if there's other things you would add to that...Savitri is going, I see here
I am. Because you know, when you you are on the advantaged in the spectrum of cultural privilege and contextual hegemony, you don't understand how images and language and words can quiet if other groups of people, people who are historically marginalized. And what I love about the book is the opportunity it gives for our students as they're learning to see themselves and see members of their own communities being represented, for them to challenge what we say about those people and to build from a place of real understanding. Oftentimes, when you go into a classroom, or you read a text, you are learning from a cultural and contextual perspective that may not be your own. And so everything may be new information in the opportunity of this book, is that you have an opportunity to see yourself in this book, no matter who you are, and make a comparison of what you're seeing to your own experiences. And for me, it was a gift to be able to participate in the process for that reason.
Thank you. Karen, I saw you nodding your head were you going, you want to jump in here too?
Sure. I, we really felt an impulse from the beginning to center clients that that are often on the margins and an afterthought in terms of clinical textbooks. And because this is a course that's taught early on, typically for mental health professionals, we really wanted to set a tone for programs to move away from centering weird, right? White, educated, industrialized, rich democratic societies as the norm and then having everyone else be considered an other we really wanted to center clients that that many of our, our students will go out to serve, and have them be the representative voice that the theory is then tacked on to and it was really intentional that we, that we center, the clients and their stories and their histories and the relationships, the situations they find themselves in first, because that's how we meet our clients. We don't meet our clients through a theoretical lens, per se, we meet our clients, and we fall in love with our clients and service to our clients. And then we try to help theory help us organize how we conceptualize where maybe they got stuck meet where the the impingements that are on them, might be leveraged against with resources available in the community. And so that was really intentional in terms of the order of operations that we followed. We want our students to center their clients as they are not as someone who's other than who they learned about as the representatives in their textbooks.
Yeah, so one of the things I was really interested in hearing your perspective and seeing a little bit of this in the book that I started, the parts that I was reading, was that that just distinctive idea between culture and context. Kristi, I wonder if you want to jump in here and just talk about how you view the difference between culture and context? Or how you define that in the book.
Yeah, happy to so we actually had a good number of discussions in terms of preparation and going into how we would organize and I remember having debates on does this fall in this in this camp or not? And I'm finding that I'm really struggling to kind of separate them because they really are concepts that are so interwoven, and so tied together. And so I think that it probably is a misnomer, just to say that they are distinct, and we certainly wouldn't, wouldn't want to lay claim to that. But I think we were thinking about it, as you know, cultural considerations are those things that are identities, religion, ethnicity, race, gender identity, that are are elements who were were born into. And then we've got the contextual pieces that are, of course, again, community influence, societal influence, what's going on, you know, again, in those developmental stages that are really relevant, that are impacting a person based on where they live in a given point in their time. So that's really how we conceptualized it in in the text itself. But again, really recognize that there are places where that alignment certainly is shared across both categories.
Thanks, Krisit. Others want to add to that?
You know, one thing that stood out to me when we were working on this is also how we thought about the developmental theories themselves. So some developmental theories are really positioned more as kind of individual stage models of development, but many theories Bronfenbrenner, the gods scheme and the Goldrick. These are theories that by design are centered within context. So whether it's the so called social ecology model, whether it's the family system or other systems. So for me, another way we kind of made that distinction is that we would talk about Bronfenbrenner, for example, but we would talk about Bronfenbrenner in our culture and context chapter. And in some ways, it was a nice way to bridge from that discussion of culture and context to them, kind of maybe zeroing in on on other theories of development that may not be in and of themselves more contextually oriented. For me, and the chapters that I wrote, and a couple of the chapters I wrote, were on middle adulthood, and it is the only case study in the book that actually is represented by a kind of a white western woman, and then her husband. And so for me, even in those chapters, it was really important to highlight the important cultural features. So like, using Hayes's model of intersectionality was such a thread, I think that we ran through the book. So I could take my case study of Ellen, who, by all appearances, is a very privileged woman from a privileged background, but could also really kind of explore those parts of her identity, that represent someone who has been potentially in more of an oppressed place, or what this transition of middle adulthood even does to that, you know, people who move into later stages of development, sometimes add isms to their identity. So ageism becomes a factor for somebody who maybe has never experienced that and is really occupied a place of privilege. But then there's a new territory of development to explore. Ableism is another one, somebody who has a developed disability as they move through the lifespan is also adding a layer of cultural understanding that maybe wasn't there before. So for me, it was sort of putting all those kind of felt like a Rubik's cube a little bit like, you know, trying to sort of solve the puzzle about how our case, their cultural identity, the contextual factors of development, and then the, you know, the other theories of development that we've layered in how all of those helped to kind of paint this more comprehensive picture.
Yeah, I love that Kelly, I was really struck by, especially when you talk about socio political and other cultural sort of not, I guess, it's not cultural in the way you're defining, but those contact contextual pieces in in our society, and thinking about how that really allows this idea that your ideas around development to really grow and shift and change as generation, you know, generational changes happen, I was thinking, you know, you mentioned about the changes in gay marriage laws and how that contact contacts really can change how someone develops, and I think about, you know, this Gen Z and their social media and just their whole development, and how different it is from my development. And so there's just that that contextual piece really adds another layer to our development. And so I guess it's to me, it's fascinating to see sort of where we will go in the future, what will how will development shift and change for folks, as the context continues to change? Um, so, you mentioned earlier talking about clinical applications. And I was really curious to have you talk more about this. Because maybe it's because when I took human development, it was taught by, you know, the Human Development Department, and not a not a counselor or a mental health professional. And so the clinical application for me wasn't as direct. And I loved reading this book, because it really did and hearing you talk about this very direct clinical application, and I just love that feature of it. So I'm curious about how you use development and clinical applications, or, you know, your your view of, of lifespan development in clinical applications. Karen, I don't know do you want to jump in and share and then others please? Feel free?
Sure. So we opted to have imaginary dialogues with our clients to demonstrate some of the ways that we could incorporate structured assessment processes into a culturally responsive interview. And so we imagined our way into how we might draw out some of the history that was relevant for the agents stage that we were working on with the members of the system that we were serving, and actually intentionally incorporating in the the normal moments of silence or the emotional processes that might have be happening around the the quality of conversation, that's, that's being drawn out. And so by doing that, we were aiming to bridge the gap from just thinking about case conceptualization to how does that actually show up when we're in service to the client in the moment, with my particular chapters, because I was focusing on early childhood development, I had components with the parents as well as with the identified client. And the intention, there is to be really clear that we don't just gather all of the information we need about a small person from from just them, we need to incorporate the family system. And there are boundaries between the kinds of things that we would want to learn from the child directly versus what we'd want to learn from the parents, there's an order of operations, to wanting to understand maybe some of the trauma history from the parents before then even approaching some of the topics with a small child. So we were wanting to weave in some basic counseling skills and basic assessment skills, and some introduction to resources that are available for clinical students so that they can be thinking about that from the very beginning of the program.
Yeah, and I'm curious how this shows up in your own clinical work, too. I mean, is this is this is this what you're doing and how you're operating with clients and using that developmental framework.
Because I work with force migrant families, we use a trauma informed lens in order to understand the parental history. And then with that, we take that into any of the assessments for the children that we're working with. And we do a lot of parent child dyad work, we do a lot of couples work, we do a lot of whole family systems work. So I'm supervising students to be following a structured model this way where they're taking in information from the family, but also from the preschool teacher and others in the context of the family that we're serving. And being intentional about how we organize which assessments we'll be using, and for what purpose. And historically, that was how I was trained was to do a lot of data collection with the parents, or the Guardians, and then to find out how that showing up for the children and from the teachers lens. And so with, with kids in particular, there are generally about six adults around a child that will have something they need to say about what's happening there. And so we intended to weave that into the chapters relevant to children.
Great, thanks. Savitri, I saw you ready?
Well, you know what I was thinking about. There were two clients I introduced through case study. Bilaal and mystic, Bilaal works with therapists Janes in the chapter. And this was an important, it was important to me to stretch what I could say in words about his development, to share with people some things I learned about the dynamic of having specifically Bilaal an African American man, come to a counseling session, when I first started, almost every African American client, male client I had, I worked in a University Counseling Center, and almost every one of them only came from one session. It was something that I figured out I may not have been doing right. And one of the things that they're up is James does and his work with the law is that he demonstrates respect for the law. He demonstrates an understanding of something about who Bilaal is when he makes a connection about what his name means when they're talking, but he also connects with the law by telling him disclosing a little about who he is, and his own feelings about being in danger and being in jeopardy and being at risk as a black man in America. And that was important to me, because I wanted to think that I could give something to a student that would help them be more effective than I was initially in the relationship building with an African American male who is reluctant and not a believer of therapy.
I did just jump in if I could, Margaret. A couple of things you asked about how this might be showing up in our own clinical work. And this is happening to me in in pretty relevant and exciting ways I think. I work with adults only in counseling, I don't work with kiddos, I don't work with adolescents, so many of my adults are in, say, middle adulthood, I have a couple that are in later adulthood. And I have found that even sharing with clients, some information about ages and stages of development in adulthood have created a lot of aha moments. And this happened for me as well. You know, when I took my human development class, it seems like there was so much focus on the development of children and adolescents as there should be. But then it's felt like some of the things we knew about development as you move through the lifespan were either afterthoughts or minimal. And even Erikson admitted that when he was doing his stages of development, it was a lot of guesswork when he got to the later stages of development, because he wasn't there yet. And he didn't really know what that consisted of. But what I have found is in talking to clients about things like Daniel Levinson's theory, and what it means to consider that different phases of life are seasons, and that when we move into a new season, in a lot of ways, we become a novice again. So we may have learned a whole lot in our lives and know a whole lot. But suddenly, when you're watching children, and when you're caring for parents, and when you're moving into retirement, or dealing with a new disability, or a death or a loss, you become a novice, you have to relearn you have to re integrate a thinking about who you are. And so I've kind of had some of these ideas in the forefront of my mind as I work with clients. And like silvitra said, I think we were all very intentional in the book, when we had our client counselor interactions, to remind ourselves that clinicians can learn a lot about clients, if they take the time to ask them about their stage of development. Who are you? What are the roles that you occupy? How do you describe yourself? What have you learned so far about your life? What do you think you still have to learn? So even just kind of asking the questions that are about that? Who am I right now in relation to my culture, my context, my family, myself? I mean, I think it has, it's like now I look back at it and go, Oh, duh. I mean, lifespan development has so much application for clinical work. But you're right, so many people took it in formats, where it maybe was just taught very broadly with all kinds of different people in the class and never with a thought to what we could do with that information as clinicians.
On one thing I wanted to share, too, that I think is really unique about our book that we really haven't talked a lot about, as well is the fact that we've added experts in the field. So we have additional podcasts for all of you podcast, listeners who love that, that really speak to this too. So of course, we have the case studies, we have the case vignette. And really to Kelly's point, we're thinking about this and learning about our own stages of development. And I have young children and thinking, wow, you know, this is really shaping what I'm seeing going on with them, but also recognizing that we wanted to add diversity to the experience and the voices that are being shared and who is out there in the field doing this work. And what does that look like? And how does that factor in? And what would students take away from their expertise that we haven't already covered? So that I think is another kind of unique element of our text that we think speaks to that practical application is we want students again, to have critical analysis. We want them to have good frameworks for understanding and then we want them to to hear what does this look like in real applied practice? And what are some considerations that to Kelly's point, you know, they've discovered we've discovered along the way in our own understanding of human development and lifespan development theories.
Yeah, thanks, Kristi and Kelly, I really resonate with all of that it was just fascinating to start sort of rethinking about development and, you know, and how I would apply it clinically. So I appreciate you all sharing how you use lifespan development in your own clinical practice. And I heard a couple of you also Say, just thinking about your own development. And I found myself actually reflecting over the past few days in preparing for this podcast of thinking about Hmm, I wonder what role culture and context played in my actual development? You know, all the different I know, there's so many different theories of development. Just thinking about how those all fit together under through that lens. And so I was curious about, you know, it's always interesting to work on a project that has direct relevance to your own life while you're doing it. For better or for worse, right. And so I'm just curious about what as you did a lot of self reflection, I'm imagine for this project, you know, what kind of insight did you have into your own development, as you read and, and learned more about this cultural and contextual lens of development?
I'd be happy to start. And it's not as much about me, but I selfishly chose to focus on emerging adulthood, and late adulthood, because the groups of people who are most important to me, my daughter and my nieces, are in emerging adulthood, and my parents are in late adulthood. And it was phenomenal to have the experience of relating to what my nieces and my daughter are experiencing and their friends. But I think Kelly would probably agree with me, I was probably most moved by my work, focusing on late adulthood. I really thought what was happening for my daughter, and my relationship as a parent, would be the most salient thing for me as we focused on this. And it really is my relationship with my parents and my role as their daughter. Prior to doing this work, I wasn't familiar with the work of Empower a lot and, and just to be able to focus on, you know, his work about the environment and aging and what it means for people to be able to age successfully. And, you know, everything that we read everything that we watched everything that we talked about, as we were writing, this was so self relevant to me at the time that it has changed the way I've interacted with my parents, because I did not recognize that these two very capable, competent people are really depending on me, to engage in decision making with them in a way that I have been a bit more hands off. In the past, I learned a lot about how important it is for people to have some stay engaged and have something to look forward to. And it was a critical thing for me as I thought about what people in late adulthood were experiencing during the pandemic, you know, and I did some workshops to support people in late adulthood. at my church, I did some work around supporting people for national caregivers Appreciation Day, to support people who were in those roles. And the other thing I did was I said to my parents, hey, we're gonna go on a trip, because I wanted them to have something to look forward to and get excited about. But me personally, Kelly knows this. I've always said, I want to live, you know, 100 years of the day, I want to let have my 100th birthday party. And then the next day, I want to talk about how fabulous my party was. But having the experience of focusing on the chapter around a lot, late adulthood. really made me think about that. Yes, sure. I'd like to live to be 100. But I would also like to live to be independent, you know, maintain my independence, or interdependence, and my mobility, and my cognitive abilities, which makes me think very differently, about late adulthood. And this is something that I really tried to emphasize. For the longest as an educator, I've said, I want people to always think about, you know, become a lifelong learner. This is what I would say to my two students. Now, when you work with clients at any stage, have them set goals for what they want the end of their lives to look like. Because the decisions you make today, about your finances and what you eat and how you exercise and who you love, and how many people you love and what communities you live in, are going to have a huge impact on whether or not You age well or age successfully at the end of your life, depending, depending on how you define aging well. And my definition of aging, well makes me think very differently about the decisions I make today.
Think I would agree with you Savitri, about the final chapter. So Savitri And I wrote the late adulthood chapters together. And when we went into that, they were some of the last chapters we had to write, we'd already invested so much energy into our earlier chapters. And I don't know about you, but I was like, Oh, my gosh, I can't wait to write this chapter. But once we developed our our case of Rose, and we really started looking at her and her identity and her world and her losses, and it it to me, I think when I think about myself and future clinical work, for me, it's going to be really important to work with people who are in the stage that some developmental theorists call the old old, because our ideas of old have shifted a lot, right? In recent years in recent decades. And we now have just like, Levinson kind of helped us understand emerging adulthood in a new way that, hey, there really is something here between adolescence and being in your life as an adult, there's something here worth exploring, I think we're going to increasingly see the difference between what we have considered in the past as old and what it means to be old, old. And I think that is really a place where there really needs to be clinical focus. I mean, think about look at our boomers, right? I mean, our boomers are going to be in the next 15 to 20 years, some of the biggest, the biggest population area that we have in the US, that's where these folks are going to be an increasingly we're seeing counselor programs dropping, you know, focus on gerontology. And to me, it's a travesty. Because I think the piece that I took away from this is Oh my gosh, that's where I want to put some energy, because I think that's really where the need is going to be. And I'll say one thing that just a theory that I got some new appreciation for after this was actually looking at psychosocial development, looking at Ericsson. But for me, it's looking at Ericsson, and Ericsson. It's looking at how his wife joined with him in his very last publication when they were both in their 90s. And she, in fact, is the one who really developed what became Erickson's night night stage of development and really understanding what happens to people who are really at the very end of their lives if they are fortunate enough to live a long life. And what does that mean? So So I agree with you, I had to write about middle adulthood, which I'm in. But that didn't seem as resonant to me as what we worked on when we when we talked about late adulthood, and the old old. So that was really exciting.
Yeah, gosh, I love that. I think it's so interesting, we do put so much emphasis on those early childhood years, which, you know, are also important. And I think what, we sometimes forget that we're still in development, those of us in our adult, fully adulthood, right. And I just had this, I think, in the midst of everything we've been going through over the last, you know, two years now with COVID, I think, I had this sense of and just reading, you know, the very beginning of your work and sort of your approach to this, I had this moment of like, gentleness for myself, oh, there, I'm still I'm still developing. Like, this is all you know, there's some normal pneus to this and and yeah, just like a grace with myself that I don't know, that I'd given given myself before because I think I saw some of this income in this larger context. And recognizing that I'm, I'm still growing and developing. And so it was just a nice little insight for my own self thinking about development. I'm curious, Karen or Kristi, did you have your own insights about your own development? And as you were reading all about lifespan development theory?
I certainly did as well. And I think what's kind of what probably the thing that stood out to me most was the shoulds attached to developmental theory and how locked we, I mean, and again, it's kind of this crazy thing here we are counselors, Counselor Educators talking about this going in with this premise of this book. And then to have the discovery of like, how locked I was into a mindset of this is where I am in my life. And this is what I should be doing. And this is where my children should be. And my partner should be and and seeing, you know, I think it's just by virtue of how these things work that we were all independently grappling with developmental crises during this period of time, and how different my perspective was knowing that and that I could normalize things that I might have, perhaps, potentially pathologized before and just said, Okay, wait, you know, here's this thing, you know, my husband's struggling with his career identity at a place where everyone says he should have this kind of level doubt, and I am kind of struggling with how do I parent, a child who's kind of gender non conforming in ways that, you know, she's starting to grapple with at school, and that's becoming an uncomfortable space, and, you know, where's my identity as a, as a professional and a mom and balancing those things. And, and then to, you know, you know, Kelly and Anita have had such beautiful conversations about their work, and those later chapters in recognizing that piece, and just seeing the same thing, like, where am I going to go in the future, I'm looking at my grandmother who is in the old, old and is is, you know, right at the end of her life, and the messages that she's sharing back and the ways that I think, Gosh, I wish I had, I wish we spent more time valuing the voices of the old old and the, the not so old, old. And across this spectrum, I think that it's just reinforced everything we thought we wanted to do in this book, but really resonating in a very real way of how meaningful and profound this conversation can be. And certainly, well, we hope that our our students will also take away from it.
I'll just jump in and say that the thread that runs through the whole text, for me that was really healing and nourishing all throughout, is because we're social mammals, how development is always relational. It's always about who we're in relationship with, and how those relationships can help with our growth, or can impinge on our growth. And that that is across the lifespan. And so much of what is challenging, as we move through the lifespan is loss of those relationships over time. And that's very often where mental health professionals will be brought in, in some context is loss, either of life of loved ones, or of capacities and ourselves. And so, if we're intentional, as mental health professionals about being mindful about that, by bidirectional growth, being brought up in the first half of life, and then being a part of contribution through our relationships, in our communities, and in our families, especially in the middle, and second half of our lives, and then how we have to let go of that as we move towards death, the honoring of that whole trajectory is something that was really palpable for me throughout the book. And being in that middle adulthood chapter myself and being with my parents or moving into the later chapters themselves, seeing how aging well does or doesn't happen through their relationships and the choices that that people of their generation have made. And the consequences of that really cycles back around for me about the role modeling of our old old for the new ones that are coming in, and how it's just this ongoing thread. And there's so much context around those ongoing threads, a lot of it, which is leading to a lot of pain in our species, but also, what we know as mental health professionals can can heal that. So that that tone, I think is something that we were able to really carry through the text. And I hope that the readers will find it there in a way that works for them.
As you all are talking about these pieces of development, developmental theories that you really connected with, I'm also thinking about the limitations of the developmental theories that, you know, those what we would call foundational developmental theories or traditional developmental theories. And I'm wondering what your thoughts are about? Do we really, I guess I'm wondering, you know, do we need to rethink lifespan development altogether? You know, these theorists were developing their theories, many of them quite some time ago, and as you've mentioned, on dominant populations, and I guess I'm wondering if we still see those similar patterns of growth and development in current generations as the theorists saw in their time, or do we need to imagine a whole new theories of of lifespan development that take into account our current context?
I will tell you this Oh, I probably was excited the most when we started about delving in deeper into our netzwerk, about emerging adulthood, because it is focused on adulthood, how emerging adults how this group of people, post adolescence develop in an industrial societies, a lot of them. And that was such an important thing for me, because I remember, when I went to college, my friends who didn't go to college seemed to be different kinds of young adults than I was, I see, I felt I would oftentimes feel like I was immature, by comparison. But, you know, I think there is a phenomenon that we should be paying attention to that, you know, in the same way, we recognize that adolescence was a time period that needed to be acknowledged. And we needed to see it in a different way. Because we had laws that force children to be in school longer. You know, and we saw a change in people as a result, you know, most of us, if it's not the generation before us, or two generations before us, we have had relatives and talked about, you know, yeah, I finished sixth grade. And, you know, I did this, and that's not how people talk now. You know, when our children get in the 10th and 11th grade of school, we're thinking about, you know, what additional training or education will they require, and we are delaying and postponing, they are postponing some of the decisions that previous generations made at the same age. So I think it's something that we do need to consider, you know, and I think that I think the traditional theories give us really good information, I don't think they should be abandoned. But I think that every conversation should also be every conversation about traditional theorist should be complemented with more contemporary theorist that understand and account for context and culture context, especially. Because you see similar patterns with regard to culture, across generation, across generations. But context is very dynamic. And as we were talking about earlier, I think actually you, Margaret, you were talking about the influence of social media, on our children, there are times that I can really relate to my daughter and my daughter's experiences. There are times when I'm pretty sure an alien has come to live in my home when she comes home from for vacations from college, because the things that she presents me with are so different than the things I would ever have convert, have had conversations with my parents about when I was her age.
Yeah, thanks, Savitri. Others, thoughts about how we think about development moving forward.
We captured some of that for the Early Childhood components in this text moving zero back to conception. And so I'm hoping that the readers will enjoy that as well in terms of really looking at pre birth experience pre birth development as being foundational, that's how you get your, your physical meat suit you're going to travel through this life with and it's not a tabula rasa at birth. And so being really mindful of addressing some of the ways that development can either be supported or impinged. Pre birth is really important, especially someone who's worked with kids who ended up in foster care and things like that there are certain subsets of our our population that have had a lot more trauma to absorb during that most critical developmental period. And so, lifespan development is becoming much more interdisciplinary. It's taking a lot more input from the medical sciences from forms of behavioral sciences, we understand Interpersonal Neurobiology much more now. We understand neuroscience so much more we now that the lifespan is being stretched out, we're seeing these chapters of the life being stretched out more each one is sort of becoming more blended into the one before and the one after than it used to be. We don't have these rites of passage that are clear to markers say at puberty and then at a certain age, that define when we are supposed to have achieve certain goals. It seems like whatever the shoulds were, they continue to get broken over time. And so I think that's one of the questions that we're asking the readers Here's what do you think about that?
Yeah, that'd be so interesting. Kristi, do you want to jump in?
Yeah, well, I would just want to say, too, I think, you know, probably my hope for students is that going back to that critical analysis piece of it, which is, we did have lots of discussions about how do we frame this and give them again, kind of what they need from a basic traditional perspective for taking licensure exams and covering that, and then also fully appreciating what these theorists brought at a time in that culture. And in that context with which they develop theories, because I think it's really important to recognize that but then having that context, the the lens and recognizing, again, that anything that they are provided with, and that's from our perspectives to like, what we're sharing forward in this book is captured in a period of time. So it's really helping them to see the the fluidity of it and the dynamics and the complexity, and that context, so that they don't get themselves locked into perceiving development in this framework. But as this is a lens, this is a tool, this is a period of time, and what we can offer you to help kind of interpret for where this person may be, and think critically about it, and question it and poke holes in it and find additional research be a consumer of empirically validated research. And that's your role as a mental health professional, that this is a dynamic field, and it's ever changing. And so I think that's what I hope, I think, if we kind of perceive that there is ever going to be a developmental theory or a developmental perspective that captures everything, we're we're probably setting ourselves up to be just as kind of imperfect as our predecessors. But I think that's what we're hoping comes out of this text as well.
Yeah, you all have given me lots to think about in terms of lifespan development. And I want to thank you all for coming today. Kelly, I wanted to just end with you and see if there's anything else you want our audience to know about your project.
Well, I think prestigious did such an excellent job of kind of encapsulating what we really want people to get out of, of this book, if you're going to be a mental health professional, you are going to take a lifespan development course. And if we have one hope for you, it's that this will be one of the courses that you take if you have a tool like our book, which will be coming out in April of 2022. That if you have a tool like our book in your class, hopefully you will see this as another course that really anchors to your identity as a future clinician. And that this is going to be information that you feel like you can use in real world ways with your clients. And we just really thank you, Margaret and The Thoughtful Counselor for the opportunity to talk to you about this project that as we said earlier is really been a labor of love and look forward to future conversations.
Yeah, I am excited to talk to each of you as we go throughout the year and learn more about your specific focus in in this project. And I think this is a great resource. I was just looking at it online and you can preorder it and I think it's a great resource for students and clinicians as well. If you're already out there practicing and you're looking for a new perspective or some fresh ideas around your clients. This is a great resource to add to your to your bookshelf. So thank you all for being here today and sharing your work with us.
The Thoughtful Counselor is Desa Daniel, Raissa Miller, Aaron Smith, Jessica Tyler, Stacey Diane Arañez Litam,
and me, Megan Speciale find us online at the thoughtful counselor calm. Our funding is provided by Palo Alto University's Division of Continuing and Professional Studies. Learn more about them at concept.paloaltou.edu. The views and opinions expressed on The Thoughtful Counselor are those of the individual authors and contributors and don't necessarily represent the views of other authors and contributors, nor of our sponsor, Palo Alto University. So, if you have an idea for an episode, general feedback about the podcast, or just want to reach out to us, please drop us a line at email@example.com Thanks for tuning in and we hope to hear from you soon.