Developmental Engagement Field Theory

Dr. Keith WittArticle, Cognitive, Journal of Integral Theory & Practice, Psychology, Psychology


Psychotherapy has benefited from Ken Wilber’s all-levels, all-lines contribution of a developmental perspective expanded through quadrants, states, and types. Humans grow on different lines through progressively expansive worldviews that shift and morph according to their own and others’ states of consciousness and types of people. This article explores how social engagement is central to human functioning and development, and how it potentially provides agentic access to intersubjective and interobjective energy fields. An integrally informed developmental engagement field theory is described, with practical suggestions for applying it to living, parenting, and psychotherapy. The article concludes with a lifespan case study that embodies the presented research.


Some controversial but intriguing phenomenological and empirical data indicate that much — if not all — development may be influenced by engagement with subtle energy fields. Humans may be able to direct these subtle energy fields to varying degrees, depending on their maturation, intention, and attention (Radin, 2006; McTaggart, 2007; Sheldrake, 2005, 2008). Since I find the current research persuasive — and the upside of accessing subtle energy fields in supporting development, intimacy, and psychotherapy appears from my own experience and from related clinical data to have such potential benefits — this speculative article will assume such fields exist and may be reliably accessed with intention, attention, and congruent emotion. Thus, I will explore the considerable potential clinical benefits from an integrally informed developmental engagement field theory (DEFT) in living, parenting, and psychotherapy.

Dr. Keith Witt

About Keith Witt

Dr. Keith Witt is a Licensed Psychologist, teacher, and author who has lived and worked in Santa Barbara, CA. for over forty years. Dr. Witt is also the founder of The School of Love.