8/31 – Integral Theory Making and the Need for Empirical Rigor: Observations from the Field of Adult Development

August-November 2017 / A Letter to the Integral Community

Susanne Cook-Greuter, Ken Wilber, and Beena Sharma


Co-authored by leaders in the field of integral and adult developmental theory, this review expresses a three-fold hope:

  1. We want to raise awareness regarding the importance of rigorous research among scholar-practitioners engaged in theory building and research in psychology.
  2. We invite dialogue on these key issues among academic leaders, thought leaders, theoreticians, practitioners and learners in the field.
  3. Finally, we call on all theorists to adhere to the criteria of good model building and the need for rigorous empirical validation established over the last 100 years of psychological research.

In general, science moves forward by forming new hypotheses that can be tested and validated through empirical studies and peer review. Doing post-conventional research in human development does not exempt researchers from conforming to accepted academic standards, statistical methods, or peer review. While honoring long-standing, established practices of doing science, the Integral community also encourages experimental and non-traditional approaches to research in line with its post-conventional mandate. One result is that, for some theorists, academic rigor can be seen as too “de rigeur,” too conventional and constraining. Although the integral community values new thinking, this appreciation has led to some conjectures getting attention for their creativity and integrative efforts without the necessary and sufficient psychometric testing and peer review.

Thus, we raise the question of academic rigor in the integral community in general—as any lack of rigor tends to cast doubt on integral theory in the field of academic developmental psychology as a whole. We hope this memo marks the beginning of an ongoing effort to improve the peer review process as it pertains to theories from the Integral community.

Here, we focus on a specific example: StAGES theory. In the spirit of the scientific method, we offer an initial critique and invite the readers to consider our recommendations.

Critical Importance of Peer Review

As an example of the difficulties with ideas not filtered through the peer-review process, we present a summary of our concerns with O’Fallon’s StAGES theory of consciousness and its assessment instrument. [Editors note: A response to this critique can be found at: http://integralleadershipreview.com/15609-a-response-to-critiques-of-the-stages-developmental-model/]

A peer-review involves exploring some of the following questions:

  • Is the new theory adequately supported by the necessary studies to make public claims about its validity? If not, what studies could, and should, be done?
  • Theory makers must be willing to receive constructive criticism from peers before publication of claims, and adequately respond to challenges rather than dismiss them.
  • Eventually, a new theory and its measurement protocol need to go through a regular peer-review process.

The following initial review of the StAGES model of psychological development and its underlying research represents the perspectives of developmental theorists, statisticians, researchers, and practitioners in the field with whom the authors have had several and extensive conversations. We approach this with a genuine appreciation for the contributions of new ideas and models, while also elucidating some of the challenges theory making poses. This “critique” should be seen as a healthy response that includes both appreciation and challenge by members of the integral community who are aware of the potential impact on the field when hypotheses are prematurely presented as validated theories.

There is much to appreciate about the StAGES model. Its originator, Terri O’Fallon, has dedicated herself, and has spent endless hours and effort deepening her inquiry into how human beings develop. Many have found her ideas to be personally useful. They recognize her extraordinary teaching ability, her spiritual guidance and her wisdom. Based on self-reports, the StAGES framework and its teaching have undoubtedly had a positive impact on individuals. More specifically:

  • StAGES is a good example of creative theory building.
  • The theory synthesizes a lot of different material from different sources in a provocative and original way.
  • In particular, the model explores new connections between stages and states of consciousness.
  • The model has led to a new type of measurement. With further validation, this could lead to a proven and viable additional metric.
  • The ideas raise key theoretical and research issues that can serve the field of adult development by stimulating further inquiry.
  • StAGES has inspired and engaged many others to support research into human development at all ages, capabilities and proclivities.

Notwithstanding the above aspects, we raise questions around several aspects of the model, its underlying research, its measurement approach, and the related claims and offerings. These are disseminated world-wide as if fully validated. However, the authors of this memo believe that the research necessary to uphold many of the claims is so far lacking.

A misconception persists in mainstream academia that the AQAL meta model lacks a scientific foundation of rigorous and robust research. In this context, it is highly likely that the StAGES model, because of exaggerated and unproven claims, may further contribute to such a misperception. We wish to take steps to counter any such confusion. While O’Fallon may therefore feel unappreciated, or even attacked, the authors of this review emphasize that this is not directed at O’Fallon, whom we consider a valuable and much-admired elder of the integral community and who carries deep and caring concern for all matters human. Instead, this critique points to what can go wrong when the peer-review process is lax and creative theorizing is accepted without scrutiny.

StAGES is a model of psychological development that claims to be based on Ken Wilber’s “All Quadrants-All Levels” (AQAL) meta-model and Jane Loevinger/Susanne Cook-Greuter’s ego-development theory. However, because of insufficient empirical support, the StAGES model violates some key tenets of both—as detailed below. Some of its claims lead to the perception that StAGES is a validation and extension of Wilber’s work, and that he has fully endorsed it. There is also a specific claim that StAGES has been validated and correlated with Susanne Cook-Greuter’s MAP research. While, in general, both Wilber and Cook-Greuter have been encouraging and supportive over the years, their conversations with the theory’s originator have also included requests for changes and additional studies that have neither been addressed or integrated.

We list here eleven issues with the StAGES model that might contribute to confusion and misinterpretation regarding AQAL and Adult Development.

  1. It asserts specific descriptors based on a meta-model.
  2. It uses problematic terms to represent concepts.
  3. It conflates stages and states of consciousness.
  4. It covers child development within adult development theory.
  5. It introduces and uses untested developmental stages.
  6. It presents problematic stage descriptions.
  7. It proposes a single metric to “measure” orienting generalizations.
  8. It uses an unproven measurement method.
  9. It lacks scientific validity and confirmation.
  10. It misrepresents its validity: The StAGES theory and measurement are being prematurely promoted as validated.
  11. O’Fallon presents StAGES with a degree of certainty despite known issues and lack of scientific rigor and research.

Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, convener of the biannual Integral Theory Conference, and founder of MetaIntegral, observes:

On the whole I’m excited and supportive of Terri O’Fallon’s StAGES model AND I am very sympathetic to many of the important academic and research points Susanne Cook-Greuter and others have raised over the last few years around her model. With ground-breaking work (such as with StAGES), I believe there comes a higher burden of responsibility on the theorists and researchers involved to be especially clear on issues of validity associated with the model/research. Key questions of theory building and research need to be addressed in a transparent way for O’Fallon’s work to gain even more support and influence than it currently has.  StAGES is an innovative model that is going to need decades of detailed research to fully validate many of its bold psychometric claims.

Given the relatively small sample sizes that served as the initial inspiration and basis for StAGES, as well as the inherent challenge of built-in researcher bias, the StAGES model has a lot more work to be done in order to achieve a robust theoretical and empirical foundation. It feels important that, as Terri and her team at Pacific Integral promote and develop her theory, they do a really good job of communicating to the integral community and beyond which aspects have been fully or partially validated and which ones are still speculative. StAGES would be well served to be presented in a way that both celebrates its elegance while at the same time being very reflective about its truth claims. This will support other scholar-practitioners and the general public to be in a stronger position to evaluate the promotional claims made by StAGES. It will also serve as an invitation to others who might be able to contribute to the further development of the StAGES model through debate and application.

We now elaborate on the above issues, and draw attention to the specific observations about the StAGES theory and its measurement, ranging from fundamental conceptual errors to matters that could be addressed with appropriate studies.

Issue #1: StAGES asserts specific descriptors based on a “meta-model.”

Integral or AQAL Theory is a “meta”-model. Wilber makes broad categorizations and orienting generalizations about the territory of human development. These are based on a deep study of more than a 100 different models from antiquity to the present. Scholars agree that, based on a meta-model, one cannot make detailed assertions about specific stages on the developmental trajectory. Therefore, a core assumption of StAGES theory that specific ego stages belong to different AQAL quadrants and that ego development progresses in a cyclical and sequential pattern around the quadrants cannot be upheld. O’Fallon provides no evidence for this interpretation or cites any studies that confirm it.

According to Wilber, in fact, such an understanding categorically runs counter to his theory. Instead, as his model and third-party research show, individuals at any stage may privilege any of the quadrants as a base from which to observe reality. In addition, according to AQAL theory, quadrants/zones don’t “determine” structures. Thus, StAGES uses quadrants and zones with inaccurate and highly misleading definitions and interpretations.

Issue #2: StAGES uses problematic terms to represent concepts.

The use of concepts commonly used with other meanings, along with the introduction of several neologisms, is also problematic. For example, there is general agreement on how the terms “Subtle” and “Causal” are used in spiritual literature and the wisdom traditions. These terms refer specifically to distinct states in the transpersonal realm. Adopting the term “Causal” for ego stages in the domain of ordinary waking consciousness simply does not work historically or developmentally. It causes confusion between transpersonal states and developmental structures because it erroneously equates them.

Unfortunately, collapsing states into stages could easily mislead spiritual practitioners if they accept the StAGES assessment measurements and results. Being scored at a “subtle” or “causal” ego stage, as assessed by the StAGES measure, could lead test takers to incorrectly assume they operate from a stable subtle or causal transpersonal vantage-point—which is highly unlikely and may not be the case at all. This misunderstanding could block serious practitioners from an accurate understanding of their true spiritual attainment, and may even hinder their spiritual development.

Issue #3: StAGES conflates stages and states.

A claim has been made in many publications until recently in promoting the StAGES model that “waking up is growing up.” Wilber maintains that this assertion is categorically wrong. More recently, this phrase has been modified, to: “waking up and growing up,” yet the model continues to assert that stages and states correlate, and do so with specific quadrants. Integral theory makes a basic distinction between “waking up” (psycho-spiritually) and “growing up” (psycho-biological maturity), and that these have different trajectories. Collapsing them into one, equating them, demonstrates a serious misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Integral Theory. One cannot “peak-experience” structures. Developmentally-informed Zen masters acknowledge that some of the most enlightened-state Zen masters inhabit the Amber/Conformist structure stage, thus contradicting and exposing errors in the StAGES’ model. Moreover, people, including children, can have state experiences far beyond their meaning-making stage. No evidence suggests that stage and states develop together in a regular cyclical pattern as asserted in the StAGES theory.

Issue #4: StAGES covers child development within adult development theory.

The StAGES model covers human development from childhood to adulthood, including both psychological and spiritual dimensions. In addition, it also points out aspects of derailed development (psychopathology) and suggests therapeutic and remedial interventions. Beginning in the 1960s, Loevinger and others explored healthy adult development as a response to the prior over-emphasis on psychopathology. Her WUSCT (Washington University Sentence Completion Test) is normed only on reasonably functioning adults. Following Loevinger, Cook-Greuter’s framework and measurement, as well as most of the field of adult development theory as a whole, focus on adults and make no claims about child development. Since StAGES covers a much vaster territory, this raises many additional conceptual and measurement concerns. Creating such an all-encompassing meta-theory and a new measurement methodology clearly places high demands on O’Fallon as a researcher and theorist. We believe these demands need to be satisfied before the proposed StAGES model can be accepted as theoretically and psychometrically valid.

Issue #5: StAGES introduces and uses untested developmental stages.

StAGES proposes several new stages beyond well-established adult development theories. To get responses for the new stages, O’Fallon sought out individuals who, in her estimation, could produce such responses—often second-time test-takers and spiritual exemplars. The dozen or so sentence completions she shared with Cook-Greuter were all hyper-complex, and many mimicked insights and phrases from the spiritual literature. The StAGES results showed no recognition of the possible simplicity-after-complexity that can come with increased maturity (Cook-Greuter, 1999). Moreover, the transpersonal examples did not provide much evidence of an integrated embrace of earlier ways of making sense. While the evidence may be there, it has not been shared.

Thus, the available StAGES data does not allow one to draw general conclusions about the “must include and transcend” nature of subsequent stages—a basic tenet in the field of developmental theory. Nor do we have enough examples to deduce stage-specific descriptors and measurement criteria; instead, all we have are those currently used by StAGES, which remain untested. We reiterate that studies involving traditional quantitative and qualitative analyses are necessary to validate the plausibility of the proposed stages and their properties.

 Issue #6: StAGES presents problematic stage descriptions.

Descriptions of the familiar Loevinger-Cook-Greuter stages cannot be directly derived from the core parameters described in the StAGES model. For example, stages are assigned alternatively as stages of “being” or “becoming”. This does not align with existing theory and observations. All stages can be seen as having components of “being” and “becoming.” Furthermore, some of the StAGES stage-descriptions contain stage-specific characteristics not found in actual sentence completions from adults measured at a given stage according to the established framework. For instance, “Experts” (Stage 3.0 in StAGES theory) are said to have a capacity to step into other people’s shoes (i.e., to take their perspective). This is not supported by the five decades of evidence from the Loevinger/Cook-Greuter’s research. It seems that, according to StAGES, having feelings for others—which, as research shows, young children can definitely have—is conflated with being able to take on someone else’s perspective. The ability to take another’s perspective is a different and more adult capacity that integrates cognition and feelings. This ability is not yet formed at the “Expert” mindset.

Issue #7: StAGES proposes a single metric to “measure” orienting generalizations.

To elaborate, StAGES uses a single metric (the StAGES Assessment) to include all elements ascribed to the metamodel. Individual theories can have individual metrics; however, using one test/metric in a model that covers all states, structures, zones, quadrants, multiple intelligences, ages, and spiritual attainment, as well as the environment, seems psychometrically wildly inadequate. While StAGES offers an interesting hypothesis, it makes several assertions about relationships among components without having tested the validity of any of them. According to Wilber, a sentence-completion test certainly does not test for states—thus StAGES theory dramatically overreaches the evidence. According to Wilber, this is a fundamental conceptual error and cannot be confirmed empirically because it fails at the conceptual level itself.

 Issue #8: StAGES uses an unproven measurement method.

To assess a developmental stage, StAGES uses a novel approach to scoring sentence completions. This approach is based on a set of untested criteria derived directly from the contention that stages evolve in a cyclical and repeated pattern through the quadrants, from “Gross” to “Causal.” To date, no research validates this approach. A recent large meta-analysis (Thomas Binder, 2014) concluded that Loevinger’s theory and measurement have been confirmed to be robust and defendable against all serious challenges or objections. Cook-Greuter’s expansion of her theory at the upper end of development, as well as her criteria for measuring, were initially validated in a Harvard dissertation (1999), and since confirmed in several secondary studies. So far, no studies have replicated or confirmed the validity of the StAGES measurement.

StAGES cites one small study (~150 subjects) that used a sentence completion test to show good interrater-reliability for its measure, compared with the established, manual-based method. Typically, a study would need at least 500-1,000 subjects to support the kinds of claims being made. The study did not refer to the new stages included in the StAGES model at either end. Some support for the StAGES measurement seems to exist in the middle stages, but no research yet supports the StAGES claims for childhood development or for the proposed highest stages at the upper end of the scale. These proposed transpersonal ego stages can be introduced as interesting conjectures or hypotheses, but not as already validated. Thus, parts of the StAGES measurement have some supporting evidence, while other parts have little or no support—this can be confusing to those who are likely not trained to make such distinctions.

Issue #9: StAGES lacks scientific validity and confirmation.

To propose that a single interrater-reliability study confirms the StAGES hypothesis is unscientific, at the very least. As mentioned above, one would have to complete many different studies to confirm the validity of the various components of the theory and their inter-relationships. At most, O’Fallon has created an elegant model and has identified some initial observations and intuitions she feels support it.

O’Fallon does report additional validation through an “inter-objective verification process” regarding students in her programs. These co-observers were as far as the authors understand from her, her colleagues at Pacific Integral (PI) and other integrally informed individuals trained by O’Fallon. Unfortunately, from a research point of view, these individuals would be considered biased—invested in supporting, confirming, and disseminating the model and PI’s approach. Their agreement, therefore, counts as weak and inadequate corroboration of the behaviors under study. One would need a panel of unbiased observers: people unfamiliar with stage theory in general, and, therefore, more neutral as to outcomes. Thus, asserting that the comprehensive StAGES hypothesis has been validated by research is simply not true.

Issue #10: It misrepresents its validity: The StAGES theory and measurement are prematurely promoted as validated.

In its promotional literature, the StAGES model is offered as the most comprehensive explanation for the evolution of human consciousness, as well as the first statistical validation of Wilber’s model. Here are some sample quotes from past promotions:

Pacific Integral is pleased to introduce a comprehensive, new, research-based theory of human development and change, and new in-depth training based on this model. . . . StAGES is now the most advanced assessment of later stages of development as it distinguishes and validates three new stages past Construct Aware (Turquoise) and provides a comprehensive map of development in the causal, transpersonal stages. . . . The first integral developmental model. [sic] StAGES is based on a deep integral view, incorporating quadrants, states, lines and types, assessing both context and whole person. As such, StAGES is the first statistical validation of Wilber’s integral theory—(3/25/14 PI announcement).

StAGES is an evolution of Wilber’s quadrants in consciousness and correlates with Cook-Greuter’s developmental MAP. . . . StAGES has been statistically validated to include three new later stages of development— (6/12/16 from Pacific Integral Invitation for workshops).

Her [Terri O’Fallon’s] research, which arises out of embodied experience, inter-observations, evolutionary grammar and semiotics, integrates ego development and leadership with Integral theory, resulting in a periodic matrix of consciousness—(6/27/16 Meridian University workshop advertisement).

Overpromising scientific validity and premature dissemination are not unique to advocates of StAGES. Unwarranted claims are problematic for any field of scientific inquiry. In the field of adult development psychology we need to be especially sensitive given the profound effect the theory and its application have on how we see our own and others’ development. Many readers who are not as versed with understanding the process of validating new hypotheses and the need for requisite research behind the claims may trust what is being claimed at face value. They may therefore be misinformed and continue to defend or perpetuate that which is yet to be proven. This does not serve them or the field.

Issue #11: O’Fallon presents her model with a degree of certainty despite known issues and lack of scientific rigor.

Finally, the certainty with which O’Fallon advocates her model runs counter to the true scientist-researcher’s stance. To date, StAGES remains a highly tentative, hypothetical model with some serious theoretical flaws. According to Wilber, some aspects of StAGES are outright wrong (e.g., assigning different stages to different quadrants); and others (such as some features of the stage descriptions) are partially defensible, especially those directly derived from Loevinger-Cook-Greuter. However, the aspects of StAGES that might well be true still need further studies and confirmation through the peer-review process before they can be postulated as “proven.”


StAGES and its measurement method have been prematurely disseminated as “validated,” without corresponding research. To offer the StAGES model as the most advanced in the field of human psycho-spiritual development, a model that supersedes (yet claims support from) Ken Wilber’s AQAL theory is, to say the least, a vast exaggeration.

Worldwide promotion of StAGES, based on exaggerated claims without peer review and with minimal validity testing, is a major concern for the developmental research and practitioner community.

With this communication we make public our critique of StAGES as a proven model because of many issues with its hypotheses and lack of sufficient research. It has a long way to go to achieve such a status. Our focus on this example is a response to materials already published, with the aforementioned claims been made publicly and widely. We thus position this inquiry as our responsible response. We see this review as an initial step in a peer-review process for StAGES, and as an invitation for others interested in scientific inquiry to test its assertions. The authors also hope that those attracted to the StAGES model will be encouraged to begin thinking through its proposed benefits and, at the same time, remain cautious about adopting some of its interpretations of human development.

The human development field needs all its thought leaders to be temperate, objective, and realistic in their claims and communications. Our intent in this inquiry is to point out certain cautions this field faces as it moves into novel, important areas of research. It behooves all of us to be careful with our claims.

We believe that research in human development should meet the following basic parameters:

  • A meta-model needs multiple studies to establish correlations among its various aspects.
  • A new theory requires a sizeable amount of data to derive hypotheses, and thereafter, requires a variety of studies to validate hypotheses.
  • In scientific research, the originator of an idea holds the responsibility to distinguish between theory and conjecture, and to not make unwarranted claims.
  • A practitioner’s qualitative observations and anecdotal evidence, unsupported by adequate empirical data, are not sufficient to claim validity for any scientific model or specific aspects of that model.
  • Terms introduced into a model or theory need careful definition and justification. Ideally, they should not be idiosyncratic adaptations of familiar terms from well-known fields, and should not differ significantly from common usage.
  • When proposing higher stages, a small, highly select sample is not sufficient to prove that they transcend and include the previous ones.
  • Theory makers must consider alternative explanations for the phenomena they observe and the patterns they believe they discover.

To summarize, we emphasize the need for clarity and initial cautiousness in the field of human vertical development especially when theorists start to gather evidence, present a new model, develop metrics, and suggest that the evidence supports it. Indeed, when the evidence is bountiful and carefully collected, any number of other researchers can potentially use that evidence to support the original hypothesis or offer alternative interpretations. We have to be careful not only how we gather evidence, but also the claims we make about it. The authors draw on the collective experience of many informed scholars and practitioners in this field. We advocate the need to exercise great caution precisely because this area of research is so important and impactful. It does require us going an extra mile: in gathering evidence, employing robust statistical methods, taking rigorous steps in testing our theorizing and interpretation, and exercising mindfulness and restraint related to the claims that we make.


Susanne Cook-Greuter, Ed.D. Harvard, Co-founder of the Center for Leadership Maturity

Ken Wilber, Philosopher, Creator of Integral AQAL metatheory

Beena Sharma, President and Co-founder of Center for Leadership Maturity


Based on conversations with, and in agreement with the undersigned:

Thomas Jordan, PhD., Associate Professor, Gothenburg University, Sweden; & Associate editor of Integral Review

Elliott Ingersoll, PhD, Professor and chair of counseling and counseling psychology Cleveland State University

Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi, Head Abbot, Integral Zen   

Kristian Merkoll, MS Mathematics and Statistics, Zen priest, Independent Consultant, Integral Master Coach, Certified Associate Lectical Coach

Paddy Pampallis, PhD., Executive Director, Integral+ Africa Institute, The Coaching Center, South Africa

About the Authors

Susanne is a founding member and elder of the Integral Institute . She is considered a leading authority in adult development theories, semantic text analysis, and the function of language in meaning making. Her Harvard dissertation is a landmark empirical study in mature ego development. Susanne supervises research, lectures and facilitates workshops on ego integration world-wide. She certifies coaches and scorers in using the MAP sentence completion test and enjoys scoring herself as each MAP provides a genuine encounter with an individual and their unique experience of being alive. Susanne sees herself as a benevolent skeptic in all matters unprovable including predictions about the future of humanity. For more information go to: Susanne@verticaldevelopment.com

With more than two dozen published books, Ken Wilber has created what is widely considered the first truly comprehensive Integral Map of human experience.  By exploring and integrating the major insights and conclusions of nearly every human knowledge domain in existence, Ken created the revolutionary AQAL Integral Framework.

Beena Sharma is Founding President of the Center for Leadership Maturity (CLM) with Co-Founder Dr. Susanne Cook-Greuter. Beena is a certified rater of the MAP (Maturity Assessment for Professionals), the most widely researched measure of adult development in the field. Beena along with Dr. Cook-Greuter is the co-developer of the practice Leadership Maturity Coaching™, and certifies Coaches who undertake advanced learning in how to practice coaching that is tailored to stage development. Having worked deeply with Polarities since 1997, Beena’s unique contribution lies in evolving the idea and practice of Polarity Wisdom as a high leverage approach to enable vertical development in leaders. Beena actively integrates Voice Dialogue and Clean Language in her coaching practice.  Trained in whole system change, Beena extends her change work with the application of Vertical Development theory and Polarity Wisdom in delivering complex, large scale change efforts. Beena is a Certified Holacracy Practitioner, aspiring to impact organizational maturity through postconventional approaches to governance in complex systems.


Thomas Jordan is Associate professor at the Dept. of sociology and work science, Gothenburg university, Sweden. He is educator and consultant in conflict resolution, communication, adult development and organizational development. He has carried out a number of research projects based on adult development theory on meaning-making in conflicts, change agency and social issues.




Elliott Ingersoll is professor and chair of counseling and counseling psychology at Cleveland State University. His areas of research and practice include psychopharmacology, psychopathology, counseling and spirituality and ego development. He has authored or co-authored 8 books and 28 papers/book chapters on his areas of expertise. He has two children and lives/works between Youngstown Ohio and Cleveland Ohio. He has worked with Susann Cook-Greuter at Integral Institute, Cook-Greuter & Associates and the Center for Leadership Maturity. On a more personal note, he is not convinced consciousness is evolving but he is convinced human beings are interesting.


Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi started studying meditation and Zen in the late 1960s. After 20 years in corporate America Doshin began studying with JunPo Denis Kelly, Roshi and helped develop the Mondo Zen™ process. He has been fully trained in this transformative Koan dialog practice. Doshin was ordained a Hollow Bones Zen priest in 2005. In 2011, he was given Inka and recognized as a lineage holder, the 84th Patriarch in Rinzai Zen. He is the founder and Abbot of Integral Zen, Inc.

Doshin was one of three Buddhist teachers invited by Ken Wilber to participate in the Fourth Turning of the Buddhist Wheel Event in 2014.  Doshin has deeply integrated Integral Theory and Shadow & Trauma work into his Zen teachings.


With a master degree in Mathematical Statistics, Kristian Merckoll consults in Statistical Data Analysis, previously working as a research scientist. He studied Integral Theory at Fielding University, is a certified Integral Master Coach and has taken the practitioner training at Lectica.

He is an ordained Zen priest in Integrating Zen, and facilitates the Mondo Zen process which aims at giving the participants direct experiences of higher states of consciousness, and a practical approach for turning those into more enduring traits. His engagement in the Integrating Zen community involves building a deeper practical understanding of the interaction between vertical developmental stages and the various states of consciousness.


Paddy has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1992.  She launched The Integral Coaching Centre, (2004); the Integral+ Africa Institute (2014), and the Ubuntu Coaching Foundation (2015), to bring the application of Wilber’s work into the African context through finding a unique African dialect for the approach.

Paddy has a BA in Clinical and an MA in Educational Psychology. She then went on to become one of the first five people to qualify with a Doctorate in Executive Coaching worldwide, doing ground-breaking research on supervision for coaching through an integral approach.  She was in Denver in 2006 to do the integral Leadership Development programme where she met Dr Susanne Cook Greuter.  She has been working with Susanne since 2008 and is now the Africa partner for CLM, facilitating the LMF with Susanne and Beena Sharma, worldwide.

Her doctoral research, led her to design a cutting edge integral programme for coaching development in South Africa, offering a unique master’s degree in the Integral Practice of Coaching as an  accredited partner/ MDX University  She is currently researching assessment of her students (some 600 who have passed through her school over the years) through a developmental lens.  As a research fellow to Middlesex University (UK) Paddy is continually bringing both Integral Theory and Ego Development to the field.

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