Tiedeman and O'Hara believed that evolving ego identity is of central importance in the career development process. Their model is centered on the process of anticipating and adjusting to career/occupational choices. The anticipation period includes exploration, crystallization, choice, and clarification. While gaining an understanding of personal and social contexts, one can then adjust to a career choice through induction, reformation, and integration. Anticipation precedes adjustment, but the internal phases can be jumbled, so the model builds on decision-making more than development.

Presenting an ongoing process of self-perception, Tiedeman and O'Hara also used Erik Erikson's life stage crises to explain differences in career development. Competence, autonomy, and agency contribute largely as self-concept and career-concept grow over time. Later variations spotlight the role of an evolving sense of self and of values in career development.

Every communication consists of three parts: me, you, and context. When any one part is absent, dysfunctional communication results. Games (i.e. rescue games, coalition games, lethal games, growth games) provide one means to improve communication.