Psychoanalysis.  2019 Oct;30(4):79-88. 10.18529/psychoanal.2019.30.4.79.

What and How Do Psychotherapist Consider the Developmental Stages in Adult Psychotherapy?

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea.


There is less psychoanalytic research about adulthood compared with pre-adulthood periods. In orthodox psychoanalysis, there has been skepticism about the need or efficacy of psychoanalysis after age 40-50. Recently, new developmental tasks have been associated with young adults as well as older adults, and the need for psychotherapy to manage the conflicts of these developmental tasks has emerged. In young adulthood, individuation as an adult begins, including marriage, childbearing, and employment. Middle adulthood is a transition between young and late adulthood, and rather, the conflicts including midlife crisis are greater than before and after this period of transition. The main difference from the previous stages in middle adulthood is the acceptance of a diminishing life span and imminent death. Among the main factors impacting middle adulthood life are sex, and the presence of a spouse (partner), integral to sustaining intimacy. In elderly people nearing the end of life stage, the suicide rate is especially high compared to other age groups. The difference in sex ratio between men and women in late adulthood should be considered in understanding them. One of the hot topics of recent interest for the elderly is the lifestyles of centenarians. Their secret to good health is a key concern for researchers in gerontology. In summary, the development of mentality continues after adolescence until late adulthood, so mental health treatment is needed during and after young adulthood. Thus, customized psychotherapy techniques must be urgently developed to meet the needs of different age-groups and related development tasks.


Adulthood; Developmental milestones; Psychotherapy; Death; Separation-individuation
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