Paradigms and Definitions


Young adults today are facing many challenges. Misconceptions of what the young adult experience is and misunderstandings surrounding that experience are in many cases contributing to the challenges facing emerging adults. Confluence is specifically designed and developmentally appropriate for emerging adults. The  program is informed by a body of evidence from neuroscientific, psychological and sociological research that has shaped a new understanding of this critical time in one’s life.

For over one hundred years the developmental path charted by psychologists mapped a smooth transition from adolescence to adulthood. It has been generally assumed that by the age of 18 a young person has acquired the necessary perspective and skills to begin a career, start a family, own a home and assume the responsibilities of raising the succeeding generation and caring for those prior. Similarly our legal, political, military, academic and social systems have followed suit. In each of these systems, the age of eighteen marks a point at which an individual is allowed to fully participate, assume their independence and make choices that are not conditional upon the consent of a responsible caregiver.

New brain research, developmental psychologists and sociologists have tipped the applecart and shown that the typical developmental timeline may not be so cut and dry. A post-adolescence development stage had been identified as emerging adulthood and it is characterized by continued development of the brain structure, cognitive development, identity explorations, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between adolescence and adulthood, and a sense of broad possibilities for the future. None of this should be understood as mental illness or a pathology in and of itself. However, when mental health conditions compound and exacerbate the already real challeneges of emerging adulthood, the results can be disorienting or disabling.

Confluence works from the paradigm of understanding the specific challenges of this age group and why some thrive and others can experience so much distress. The program helps to magnify the strengths inherent in each participant while confronting their challenges by identifying them and developing strategies to work through them. From this approach participants gain valuable insight into their own lives and how best to move forward. Additionally their families, through Confluence's integrated services, come to better understand their young adult and learn the best ways to support them as they move through this significant developmental stage.