Onward Transitions Serving Emerging and Establishing Adults
Portland, ME.– Dr. Jeffrey Arnett, a Clark University research psychologist and colleagues theorized a new developmental stage they entitled “established adulthood,” a period in life characterized by significant changes in cognition, relationships, health awareness, and career development in the early 2000s. Prior to its recent publication in the American Psychologist, Dr. Arnett shared the article with Onward Transitions Co-Founder and Lead Clinician Darrell Fraize, M.Ed., LCPC, LADC for feedback on how the theory might be playing out practically among young adults in treatment for anxiety, depression, and executive functioning challenges.
Dr. Arnett refers to a hallmark trait of “feeling in-between” as emerging adults straddle the boundaries between adolescence and adulthood. “I told Jeff that some of the folks who were applying to our program were like ‘twice-betweeners’ because they had made some significant gains but weren’t quite ready to pull it all together without some help,” explained Fraize, a mental health practitioner for 24 years. “The twice-betweeners were somewhere between emerging and established adulthood because they were a bit older, more mature, and had done things like complete college. They just couldn’t maintain a full-time job, live on their own, navigate social contexts, and manage all the other ‘adulting’ stuff that sometimes gets people stuck.”
In response, Fraize and the team at Onward developed a separate treatment track for adults living along the borderline between emerging and established adulthood, and ranging up to age 35. “We’re calling this path ‘establishing adulthood and these folks are really digging deep into figuring out career exploration and greater financial independence while trying to have meaningful relationships. Some are even concerned about being more autonomous so they can take care of their aging parents. Jeff calls this the ‘career-care crunch’ where folks are navigating responsibility not only to themselves but also to loved ones. Very different from the focus on the self and generalized exploration in emerging adulthood,” Fraize explains.
Fraize is accepting new clients for the establishing adulthood track which has both crossover with the emerging adulthood track, and some specialized treatment planning. “The two tracks share a similar profile but with some distinctions. We remember the challenges some programs had when they applied an adolescent model to emerging adult clients. We don’t want to create a situation like that for these folks,” he stated.
Mehta, C. M., Arnett, J. J., Palmer, C. G., & Nelson, L. J. (2020). Established adulthood: A new conception of ages 30 to 45. The American Psychologist, 75(4), 431-444. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000600
About Onward Transitions
Onward Transitions (OT) in Portland, ME is a small, independent, owner-operated program for bright, motivated, emerging adults in the final stages of learning to live on their own. OT supports actual sustainable independent living and autonomy from two city locations. Participants (members) ages 18-29 never live with us; they live in their own apartments, scattered throughout the city. Members’ challenges include anxiety, depression, and executive functioning.