Emerging Adulthood? The sometimes bumpy road from adolescence to adulthood. (And yes, we do see adults)

Emerging Adulthood? The sometimes bumpy road from adolescence to adulthood. (And yes, we do see adults)

Emerging adulthood, a term coined by Jeffrey Arnett in 2000 in the journal American Psychologist, describes a stage of development that falls between adolescence and young adulthood.  This stage of development, which lasts from about 18 to 29, is defined by five key characteristics:

  1. identity explorations (trying out different roles and identities, personally, in relationships, and in work/school)
  2. instability (a period of frequent changes – school, moves, friendships, to name a few)
  3. self-focus
  4. feeling “in-between” (not still a kid, not quite an adult)
  5. a sense of optimism about the possibilities life has to offer

Emerging adulthood is a time of exploration before settling into the greater stability of adulthood.

According to scientific findings, the brain does not fully mature until well into the mid-20s, especially the prefrontal cortex (PFC).  The PFC is home to a group of brain functions sometimes referred to as the “executive suite” which is responsible for assessing risk and reward, problem-solving, planning, and emotional regulation among others.  This means that emerging adults are at greater risk of experiencing emotion dysregulation which may interfere with their life functioning.  Psychotherapy can help emerging adults who are experiencing difficulties in their lives get back on track.

If you would like to hear more about how Cornerstone can help emerging adults who struggle with anxiety, depression, trauma, psychosis, gender identity issues, relationship difficulties, and substance use please contact us. You also might want to check out Dr. Allison’s profile on our website. Dr. Allison sees adults of all ages at Cornerstone, but has a particular interest in seeing individuals in the emerging adult period, and working with the identity and exploration issues that accompany this period.

If you’re wanting to learn more about the wild and wonderful path of emerging adulthood you might be interested in the book below:

Arnett, J. (2014). Emerging adulthood:  The winding road from the late teens through the twenties (2nd ed.).  New York: Oxford University Press.

Contact Info

Cornerstone
Child & Family Psychology Clinic

Suite 212 - 3195 Granville Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada V6H 3K2
Tel 604.808.5559
Fax 604.565.6616


Our mission is to empower children, teens, and parents to live life to the fullest. We provide quality, evidence-based assessment and therapy services for a wide range of childhood challenges.