Adolescents and young adults

Adolescence is a phase of life lying between childhood and adulthood. It is characterised by number of major physical and mental changes.
The expression “young adult” instead, refers to the age range from 19 to 25 approximately, when one is no more an adolescent but not an adult yet.

What happens?

Through adolescence, the body changes a lot (puberty) and it is the time of discovery: sexuality, first love relationships. At this time, adolescents move away from their parents and look for their autonomy and identity. The need to belong and to feel included push them to integrate a peer group, which soon becomes a crucial reference point.

On their side, young adults face a growing independence, leading them to be increasingly protagonists of and responsible for their life (academic and professional choices, transfers). Friendships and sentimental relationships become more profound and join the life project on the basis of which young adults build their future.

Possible scenarios

While facing such major changes, adolescents, young adults and their families often go through difficult times. Sometimes, struggles also extend to extra-familiar contexts (school, friendships, extracurricular activities).
Some symptoms of discomfort are for example:

  • confusion, disorientation
  • doubts and insecurities (gender identity, sexual orientation)
  • scholastic problems (learning difficulties, drop-out)
  • challenge of authority (parents, teachers)
  • aggression, conflict
  • transgression, risky behaviours
  • self-harm

A professional can be helpful to distinguish what belongs to the growth process from what might be a symptom of a deeper distress. In the latter case, it is essential to take prompt action, especially because mental functioning is still in formation and therefore very receptive.