The 3 Aspects Theory in the developing human psyche

Working effectively with different sub-stratas of human developmental psychotherapy. Whom to address and how to address them based on their needs.

In working with clients as a psychotherapist, I notice people express different therapeutic needs at different times, depending sometimes on what they are processing and sometimes on which archetype or aspect in them is most actively participating in the current process. In response to this I developed what I call “The 3 Aspects” of the human psyche.

Looking at the content of the list towards end of article should hopefully inspire a sensitivity towards, and a recognition of internal differentiation in identity which I have termed as The 3 aspects – archetypally referenced as child-adult-sage.

Where one aspect becomes more active or dominant, the lists describe behaviours, perceptions and orientations of each aspect, therefore providing clues to effective rapport building and communication. Please scroll down now to Table below this article to get a feel for The 3 Aspects.

I was going to call these “the 3 stages of human development” since they so easily slip into that developmental psychology framework. I realised however that the gifts, resources and awarenesses from each of these processes are all equally needed. They are not necessarily linear or just a “stage” you go through. The development of each aspect carves an indelible footprint or space in the psyche, either contributing valuable skills and resources ongoingly, or contributing the next building block in our evolution as a whole person. Each aspect supports growth in the others and provides meta-skills necessary for both healthy interdependent human relations as well as self-determination and ideation. One aspect is no lesser than the other; for even as the first/child phase may seems infantile, it is absolutely necessary both as an ongoing resource (e.g. connection to feeling) and as a building block for seemingly more complex functions.

Clients are often attracted to one or more of the aspects over the others, perhaps aspiring to more sophisticated functions and aspects of self than they are currently grown into. We may even feel a natural level of growth, comfort or rapport within the qualities of a given aspect. But without the foundations of more primary or basic functions, more sophisticated functions become conceptual aspirations rather than lived experiences.

Additionally, as we participate in our growth process, we will be held back if one of these aspects is neglected for too long. We can only go so far in any one aspect while neglecting or over-looking the others. Each aspect feeds into the foundations for growth into each other. Each aspect interacts in its wholeness, contributing to a complex and therefore more resourceful healthy human psyche.

Another issue here is cultural predispositions. Contemporary Western society would tend to favour the second aspect (inadequately referenced as the adult archetype) for its focus on “doing in the world”. In the traditions of the East, the third archetype would have been most favoured for its mystic or sage archetypal qualities. The truth is that growth is maximised through ongoing interdependence between all 3 aspects, forming a diverse, rich tapestry of experience and response-ability. Too often modern life funnels us into a narrow expression of the worker in the second aspect of self. Therefore seeing this model simply in terms of childhood or linear human development is too gross an approach.

Finally, before we address the list below, a note on the first aspect, the child archetype. It would be easy to perceive this aspect as negative since it contains most of the childhood wounding. The attributes mentioned here do express many wounded overtones due to my psychotherapeutic-focus on pathology. It needs to be remembered however that our developmental challenges actually end up catalysing or driving the development of many of our virtues, even if only by necessity.

First impressions therefore can be misleading since for example the somewhat narcissistic self-focus of a child, when truly allowed, can become the stable foundation of nourishment upon which the building block of healthy adult altruism can be placed. From an adult perspective self-absorption appears negative or small-minded. But for the living child aspect, it is an essential step and a foundation for a healthy and nourished sense of self. Whether this process of integrated nourishing of self is completed as an adult or a child little matters.

These lists can be seen as either;

3 major archetypal phases or influences

3 aspects of therapy/growth/integration

3 stages of therapeutic intervention – different needs at each stage.

3 aspects of self-identity relationship

3 elements of quality, growth & resource – each aspect bring different strengths

Each aspect in its wholeness contributes to a happy healthy human existence.

So now to the list below. Feel free to leave comments.

© Copywrite Guy Simpson June 2017


Table 1 –

The 3 Aspects (of the human psyche in developmental psychotherapy)

Child Adult Elder-Sage
Feeling emoting Doing thinking affirming Being awareness intention
Hold on -attachment Let go – detachment Non attachment – allowing
Survival struggle hurt Thriving, achieving, fight the good fight Effortless effort, grace, ease.

At one with self & life

Wounding and trauma messages- negative beliefs Positive affirmations, LOA, focus on positive Not identified with thought. Enjoys the mind. Uses the mind as needed.
I can’t I can I AM
Innocence, play. Maturity, responsibility Wisdom, blessing.
Victim Hero Mystic
Fractured identity.

Used by ego

Solid sense of self.

Uses ego.

Beyond ego self. Loving acceptance for ego self.
Exploring my sense of self

My inner world

Exploring my purpose

Exploring outer world

Exploring existence

Beyond identification with who I am.

Negative beliefs Intentions, dreams, goals Embraces unfolding mystery
Receptive – subject to influence Effective – exerting influence Integrated. Life flows through me. Effortless effort.
Embracing, meeting experience. Doing, defining, directing experience. Being, allowing. Empowered surrender 2 what is.
Trauma past replaying Choosing my future At One with Life
Openess, vulnerability Boundaries, defined self Fluidity. Non-attached to form of things, relationships
Inner child work. Internal focus. Focus on practical achievements in world. Integration – in the world but not of it.
Nurture self Challenge self Embrace all of me as I am
Focussed on me for me. Focus on my purpose in world Big self allows greater perspective beyond sense of “me”.
Therapy Growth Integration
Negative story Positive story Its all just story! 🙂
Psychology of past. Trauma work, inner child work. Coaching.

Goals future focus. Positive psychology.


Transpersonal psychotherapy

Psychology meet spirituality

More feminine – human More masculine – spirit Wholeness integrates heaven and earth; human and spirit.
Explore past Explore future Explore now
Wound focus Gift empowerment focus Embrace all that is
Being heard, holding space Acknowledge then refocus Being present
I can’t, not good enough,

What do I need?

I can, all good.

What do I want?


Here Now. Complete.

Gather resourcing for self. Strengthening & healing Gather resources for life. Manifesting in the world. Know thyself as resourced.

I AM complete. Living life.

Hold on Let go Trust life. Surrender
Stay together. Go deeper Move on. Move forward. Fully experience without holding on.
Engaged, engulfed, entangled, immersed in experience. Detached. Distance.

Not identified except as consciousness.

Spacious. Room for it all.
Dark Light Awakened. Illumination.
Undeserving Deserving. Entitlement. Receptive. Allowing.
Unconsciousness Consciousness Spacious consciousness
Healing therapy.

Needs support.

Growth, maturing, self-activating. Self supporting. Integration, wholeness, completion. Support others.
Out of control Control. Rigidity. Happy to let go, surrender to life.
Child self Adult self Big self. Transpersonal self. No self.
Uncertain, Not knowing Certain, Knowing Happy in da mystery of it all.
Immature, young. Mature, responsible. Wisdom keeper.
My world The world In the world but not of it.
Play innocence simplicity wonder awe magic joy vulnerability feeling sensitivity colour Acheiving doing responsibility creating manifesting working empowerment satisfaction power form structure service Joy peace compassion gratitude serenity fulfilment ease grace blessing guiding being serving mentoring
Emotional Physical Vibrational, energetic.
Focus on seeing the negative Focus on seeing the positive. Focus on seeing truly.

The what-is.

Self focussed Self defining Self actualising
© Copywrite Guy Simpson June 2017
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *