What is an emerging adult?

Clinicians and researchers have historically understood the developmental period spanning from age 18 to 26 as that of late adolescence. However, recent research has hypothesized that the developmental stage of adolescence ends at approximately 18.


The following developmental stage has been redefined as young adulthood or emerging adulthood. Our program conceives of emerging adulthood as being its own developmental stage with unique needs and challenges. This enables us to specifically target the developmental issues that arise in emerging adults. 

These five core struggles begin in adolescence and become particularly acute in emerging adulthood. This is in part due to a heightened degree of internal conflict stemming from the increased push for independence and internal drive toward maturity and self-sufficiency. Emerging adults are thrust into the peak process of identity development, self-determination, and the formation of life decisions around relationships, career, and academic advancement. For these reasons, many emerging adults are susceptible to increased feelings of instability.


Needless to say, not all emerging adults have the same experience. Although this period of development is complicated, some appear better able to navigate it with mild distress, while others experience significant symptoms and interference with daily living. Those who are struggling during this time can exhibit behaviors such as substance abuse, depression, anxiety, isolation, and motivational problems. The Cornerstones of Maine program manages symptomatic expressions while also addressing the underlying issues related to the developmental challenges of our clients.