top of page


Emerging Adults/ Young Adults/ Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) is a focus on the developmental stage of young adults who are between 18 to 25 years of age.  This developmental stage of life is referenced in literature as far back as ancient Greece. However, it is relatively recent to modern psychology. The modern concept of TAY began around 2000 from both Arnett and SAMHSA. It has become a focus for mental health treatment in community mental health programs across America and Australia.

Research that focuses on this age range has increased over the past 20 years. The new developments and understanding has been extremely useful in helping clinicians target their therapy strategies in ways that are more useful and engaging for this age range. Young Adults experience an explosion in brain growth that matches the intensity seen in the early period of childhood. Because of the extraordinary neural development that is occurring, trauma during this time can have longer term impacts. Issues such as mood disorders and psychosis start to show up in some. TAY are still developing their prefrontal cortex during this developmental stage. Interestingly, the parts of the brain that have to do with reward seeking, passion, and anxiety, such as the nucleus accumbens, are already fully formed at about 13 or 14 years of age. This is thought, in part, to be why young adults are often change leaders. It is also thought that part of the reason for the ways the brain develops at this stage is to help the young adult launch and become more independent from their family of origin.


Many therapists don't understand how to adjust their style to work with TAY. They may attempt to work with TAY as they would with teenagers or in the same manner as they would a 30 or 40 year old adult. This can feel alienating to a young adult and the clinician can miss areas of support that the youth needs more specific understanding around or support with. Because of this, the drop out rate for TAY  who try  therapy is very high.  

I tend to assess each young adult individually to see where they are at their stage of development. This is a rapidly shifting developmental stage and their needs will be constantly shifting during this particular growth period. I utilize a number of methods to connect with young adults  in therapy. This can include creative arts, music, or whatever they may bring into therapy from their own interests. I support the TAY in developing the skills they need to become more successfully independent as an adult while also working to help them navigate the issues that are getting in the way of their ability to succeed in their life goals.

Catherine Keech, LMFT

bottom of page