Vertical Development: How Grown-ups Grow Up
The Developmental
Positive Disintegration

Positive Disintegration

How We Grow From Falling Apart

No transcript...

Content warning. This episode contains references to mental illness and suicide, which may be emotionally confronting or triggering to some listeners. If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out to a healthcare professional or call your local helpline.

Episode summary:

Kate Arms introduces us to the work of Polish psychologist and psychiatrist Kazimierz Dąbrowski, a brilliant developmentalist virtually unknown outside of the gifted and neurodivergent community, whose work centred on exploring how developmental growth unfolds through cycles of disintegration and re-integration.

I talked with Kate about why such moments of disintegration are vital to our long-term growth and at the same time incredibly difficult to navigate. We also explore why coaches could benefit from an understanding of this psychological process and all the painful emotions that arise as we breakdown and then breakthrough. We explore how, as coaches, we might support our clients to navigate the messy spaces towards a wiser, more mature, more balanced self and how we might help ourselves do the same.

00:00 Introduction and Welcoming Guest

00:54 Exploring the Intersection of Fields

01:32 The Role of Neurodivergence in Adult Development

02:10 Discovering Dąbrowski’s Work and its Impact

05:09 The Journey of Self-Discovery and Transformation

10:15 Understanding the Concept of 'Twice Exceptional'

11:48 The Power of Coaching in Personal Growth

12:26 The Role of Emotions in Development

17:04 Exploring Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration

29:12 Understanding Developmental Potential and Overexcitabilities

36:38 The Role of a Coach in Navigating Disintegration

39:33 The Intersection of Coaching and Therapy

47:16 The Impact of Developmental Theory on Personal Growth

About Kate Arms, JD, CPCC, PCC

For over 35 years, Kate has been studying the question of how to create social groups that thrive as communities while community members thrive as individuals. She has deep interests in human physiology and neurodiversity, the role of ritual and art in personal transformation, collective creativity, change management, and governance structures that support individual and collective evolution.

Kate has been a professional coach for over a decade and has been mentoring and teaching coaching since 2016. From the very beginning, her coaching practice focused on coaching creators and innovators, twice-exceptional and profoundly gifted adults, and parents of twice-exceptional kids. Her current portfolio of work includes private coaching, teaching and guiding coaches at the Neurodiversity Coaching Academy, and organizational leadership development and Agile coaching.
In all her work, she focuses on transformational culture-building and designing systems to support adaptive change that sticks.

Her book, L.I.F.T.: A Coach Approach to Parenting, presents an approach to parenting that helps parents bring out the best in their family relationships as they help their children navigate the challenges of growing up in the modern world.

She holds a BA in Theatre and Biopsychology from Cornell University and a JD from Harvard Law School. She is credentialed as an International Coach Federation PCC, a certified ICAgile Expert in Enterprise Coaching, and a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. She is a graduate of the Co-Active Leadership Program.

Useful resources

More about Dąbrowski’s work and a brilliant podcast hosted by Dr. Chris Wells:

An overview of overexcitabilities and why you need to be aware of them (especially if you are raising gifted kids or you were one yourself):

A wonderful book on overexcitabilities (addressed to gifted adults too):

Kate Arms’ and Tracy Winter’s website for all coaches interested in neurodiversity:

Kate’s book for parents seeking to integrate coaching into their relationship with children:

ICF’s guidelines for referring clients to therapy:

Dive deeper

I hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast. If you are curious to dive more deeply into learning about Vertical Development and how it might impact your work and life, check out our online library of webinars and courses accredited by the International Coaching Federation.

Explore the Online Programs Library

Spread the word…

If you want to bring your bit to building a wiser, more conscious world, I hope you share this article with others who could benefit from the learning.


and, if you haven’t done it yet, Subscribe!

Join your nerdy community and let’s keep on staying curious and learning from each-other.

Vertical Development: How Grown-ups Grow Up
The Developmental
A podcast about the messy, beautiful ways grown-ups grow up. Leaders, learning experts and developmental researchers come together to explore turning science into the day-to-day practice of adult development in teams, homes, organisations, and life.
Dr Alis Anagnostakis is an adult development researcher, group learning facilitator and founder of the Vertical Development Institute. Her highest hope as a researcher-practitioner is to help support the growth of conscious, mature and future-fit leaders and to bring the tools of vertical development into day-to-day to day life.