#ATTI80: Schlossberg

Hello! After coming off of a full week of celebrating the BFF’s wedding, we return to another edition of #ATTI80! This week we’re doodling about Schlossberg’s Transition Theory! I thought about it after reading this great #SAChat post: Schloss It Out! Putting Theory into Personal Practice for New #SACareer Pros.

So to start, as always, some history! 🙂

Dr. Nancy K. Schlossberg has been recognized for her work in adult transitions, retirement, career development, adults as learners, and intergenerational relationships. She has been awarded multiple awards and honors, including being recognized by both NASPA and ACPA.

Dr. Schlossberg originally published a conception of the Transitions Theory in 1981, and over the years has further defined it to how we know it today.

Also, a random fun fact, she served on the faculty here in Michigan at Wayne State University!

Now onto the theory!


To begin, the chosen definition of transition for this theory is “any event, or non-event, that results in changed relationship, routines, assumptions and roles”. Additionally, Goodman et al. noted that there are three types of transitions:

  1. Anticipated
  2. Unanticipated 
  3. Non-Event: which is where you anticipate an event but it doesn’t occur.

Along with these three types, both context and impact are needed to create a full and meaningful transition process and ability to cope with transition. It should be noted that transitions will be positive, negative, and positive and negative experiences.

Thus brings us to the 4 S’s and they are:


Comprised of: Trigger (gun), Timing (Clock), Control (CTRL Button), Role Change (person swap), Duration (calendar), Previous Experience with a Similar Transition (memory bubble), Concurrent Stress (head stress) and Assessment (pencil and paper).


Comprised of: Personal and demographic characteristics which indicates how a person views life and psychological resources which are the aids an individual uses to help cope with transition.


Comprised of: Intimate Relationships (the heart), Family Units (my partner, me and our cat), networks of friends (pair of friendship bracelets) and institutions and communities (people circle)


Comprised of:

3 Categories: Modify Situation; Control  Meaning; Manage Stress in Aftermath

4 Coping Modes: Information Seeking; Direct Action; Inhibition of Action; Intrapsychic Behavior

As with all of our developmental theories, you can walk through the sections of this theory and see where we might also integrate Astin, Chickering, Bronfenbrenner, etc. into this so make a full and meaning full process for transition.

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!



Evans, Nancy J., et al. (2010). Chapter twelve: Schlossberg’s transition theory. Student development in college: theory, research and practice (ed. 2, pp. 212-226). San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.

Goodman, J., Schlossberg, N.K., & Anderson, M.L. (2006). Counseling adults in transition (3rd ed.). New York: Springer

Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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