Seeking Understanding of the Young Adult and Their Experience of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Hermeneutic Literature Review

Petter, Jackie Jane
Emmens, Joanne
Item type
Degree name
Master of Psychotherapy
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Auckland University of Technology

The young adult is at a developmental juncture, metaphorically standing on a threshold. Having recently departed the structured environment of school and possibly simultaneously, home, they are stepping out into the world full of hopes and dreams. For many, this time can be overwhelming and confusing, and for some, this results in anxiety, depression or other psychological disorders and they may seek support and sustenance from family, friends or psychotherapy. This dissertation is a hermeneutic review of the literature and other text, seeking understanding of the developmental phase and psychotherapeutic experience of the young adult. I incorporate my reflections on my work with young adult clients and my experience of being a mother to young adult children. Theoretical contributions from Klein, Winnicott, Colarusso, Mahler and Kohut are discussed in relation to the importance of early and on-going sustaining relationships for healthy psychological growth and development through to young adulthood. The research reveals the phase of young adulthood to be an exploratory period as the young adult is moving towards a firmer self-identity and is also developing an increasing capacity for interpersonal connection and intimacy. These dual developmental processes are explored through the lens of Erikson?s psychosocial stage theory and other more contemporary literature. The influence of the cultural and contextual environment on developmental growth is also considered. The findings in this study advance understanding of the developmental tasks and experiences of the young adult and these are further discussed in relation to the young adult?s experience of psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Young adult , Emerging adult , Psychodynamic psychotherapy , Developmental phase , Hermenuetic , Literature review , Self identity , Intimacy , Self-in-relationship
Publisher's version
Rights statement