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Young Adulthood

Issues and challenges

Young adulthood is described as the developmental phase between the ages of 18 to 35 and involves furthering the move towards independence from the family unit. Issues and challenges exist for young adults in today’s society that did not exist in previous generations. Many changes have taken place over the last several decades such as advances in technology leading to changes in the way we communicate, higher education being necessary to increase job prospects, young people marrying later due to a general acceptance of premarital sex and cohabitation, and young women are feeling less pressured to have babies due to a wider range of career options and access to reproductive technology.

Choices for both genders are numerous and the task of making important decisions begins in high school when a young person is faced with the question of what to do when they leave school. In times past, young adults’ paths were more predetermined by role, family, and gender expectations. Expectations are now less clear about what the next step is after finishing school. Many young people remain unattached to romantic partners or permanent homes choosing to live with parents for longer or sharing accommodation, travelling, working overseas, enjoying the many options for study, and working in various jobs to explore a range of occupations.

Following are some difficulties a person may face in young adulthood and a brief description of how counselling may help.

Separation from parents

Counselling can help us to establish where we are in the separation process and how much autonomy we are feeling. What keeps us tied to our parents? Is it okay to be different from our parents? Are there fears and anxieties about independence?


Counselling can also assist us in exploring our identity and how well we know ourselves, our personality, our values and goals. Often our family, peers and society influence the way we see ourselves, our lives, choices and decisions. Sometimes it can be helpful for us to explore how we really feel and what we really want and need independent of outside influences so that when decisions are made (career for instance) we can own them as our own. The transition from adolescense to young adulthood can be an exciting yet confusing time. Some of us may feel isolated and alone, as if everyone else “has it together” .

Counselling can help us work through the feeling of being “in between” one stage of life and the next, often striving for independence from parents, but needing to depend on them for financial or emotional support. Developing a clearer picture of the ‘possibilities’ can help to establish hope and optimism for the future, but it can also feel overwhelming to some of us. Counselling can be a helpful and supportive experience.

Intimate relationships

In early adulthood, an individual is concerned with developing the ability to share intimacy, seeking to form relationships and find intimate love. Sometimes the relationships formed in adolescense carry into young adulthood. When these relationships end if can be lonely and confusing experience. If we have been with a partner for a lengthy period of time, our identify has formed in conjunction with the relationship and therefore it is not uncommon for young people to experience confusion in regards to their identity at the end of a Long-term relationship.
Distress can also result if one is seeking intimate love but has not yet found it. Especially if friends have developed intimate relationships and which can inadvertantly changes the dynamic of the friendship. This can invoke feelings of loneliness and hopelessness about the possibility of finding intimate love.


New friendships are formed through study and work and a young person may move into a different friendship group from that which they had in high school. Friendships are reassessed based on feelings of reciprocity, differing values and the varying life stages that one can be at during young adulthood.

If you are a young adult having difficulties in any of the areas discussed in this article a Psychologist can provide you with further support. If you would like to learn more about  Young Adulthood or would like to make an appointment  please contact us.