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About this book

The first edition of this popular book won praise for successfully exploring the inner world of contemporary adolescence. The new edition now also examines issues including self-harm, depression and body image disturbance. Drawing on a flexible psychodynamic approach, it gives evidence-based guidance for both experienced practitioners and students.

Table of Contents

1. Contemporary Adolescence: Still the ‘Age Between’?

Abstract
Contemporary adolescence is organised now around two distinct phases. The transition from childhood to early adolescence, through the impact of puberty, is a period of intense growth and far-reaching changes — physically, cognitively, emotionally. This is followed by a long transition into adulthood, which, though inclusive of diverse ‘pathways’, is usually extended, lasting approximately for a decade from mid/late teens until the mid-twenties. Primarily affected by social changes, this long transition to adulthood severely tests traditional thinking about the adolescent process, particularly the central concept of identity formation. Upheavals in the social world and the changing contexts for young people mean that a new sense of turbulence has become apparent, evidenced by concerns about increasing adolescent mental health problems and the emergence of new kinds of problems.
Stephen Briggs

2. Becoming a Subject in Adolescence

Abstract
In this chapter, the aim is to look closely at what it means to experience being adolescent in contemporary contexts. It focuses on experiences of developing identity through both separating from parental figures, becoming more independent and also experiencing dependency on and intimacy with others. Thus, there is a focus on ways in which adolescents acquire and relate to an emerging adult sexual body and on the qualities of relationships that they form. As was shown in Chapter 1, recent thinking has changed the way the adolescent process is understood, particularly with regard to the deepening and increasingly complex link between the internal and social worlds.
Stephen Briggs

3. Ethnicity and Identity in Adolescence

Abstract
One of the important ways in which a unitary sense of identity formation in adolescence has been severely disturbed is through the impact of the diversity of ethnic identities. This chapter explores the impact of ethnicities on identity construction in adolescence, through developing and applying the discussion of subjectivity and identity in Chapter 2. How these considerations affect thinking about therapeutic work is discussed and illustrated with case examples.
Stephen Briggs

4. Parenting Adolescents

Abstract
This chapter explores the roles of parents with adolescents. This is a very broad undertaking, since, as we have seen, the period of adolescence is extended in contemporary societies. The long period of adolescence places different demands on parents, at different times. Initially, as the child experiences puberty space has to be made for this new factor, allowing the child to become adolescent. Parenting a 13-year-old is very different from parenting a 19-year-old, or a 24-year-old. The 24-year-old nonetheless may be living at home and be partly dependent on parents financially. Young people, usually after around 18, may live away from home and still retain a relationship with parents, in which they are dependent, in varying degrees, financially or emotionally.
Stephen Briggs

5. Containing Adolescence in Organisations

Abstract
This chapter continues the discussion in Chapter 4 about the impact of adolescent emotionality on adults with whom they are in contact. In this chapter the focus is on those who work with adolescents in professional capacities. The chapter takes a particular perspective, that of discussing how the power of adolescent emotionality affects professionals who work with adolescents, and thus provides a context of intensity to the work. As well as needing to contend with intense emotions, the professional can make use of these to inform work and understanding. The first part of the chapter focuses on the often-intense emotional experiences of working with adolescents in organisations, illustrated through some case examples. These are then explored in relation to current organisational practices and the changing nature of organisations. Particular attention is paid in this discussion to the view that in the context of the global challenges of adolescent mental health, a crisis exists in the way that adolescent services meet the needs of young people. The chapter ends with a discussion of how engaging contact can be made with vulnerable adolescents who seek or need therapeutic help.
Stephen Briggs

6. Adolescents as Temporary Outsiders: Antisocial Behaviour

Abstract
Dartington (1994) proposed that taking up a position of ‘temporary outsidership’ is a necessary part of adolescent development, and that it provides a way of assimilating the transition from being a child in the family to an adult in the social world. This chapter discusses difficulties in adolescence from the perspective of outsidership. The concept of temporary outsidership is explained and applied to issues in adolescent development, leading to a focus on the anxieties and difficulties in maintaining a position on the boundary, between the inside of the family and the outside of the social world. Failure to reach and sustain the position of temporary outsidership leads to distinctive adolescent difficulties. Some of the difficulties which may be thought of as characteristic of adolescents as outsiders — especially antisocial behaviour, offending behaviour and drug use — are discussed.
Stephen Briggs

7. Adolescent Difficulties in Achieving Separateness

Abstract
Many adolescent difficulties relate to the problem of not being able to tolerate the ‘gap’ between self and other, upon which subjectivity is founded. We have seen in Chapter 6 that one particular aspect of expressing difficulty with and defending against the pains of separateness and intimacy is to engage in behaviours and take up positions that appear more adult or at least show intolerance of the pains of dependency. On the other hand, it is possible to identify adolescents that appear to locate the problematic arena in the outside world of peers and adulthood. These adolescents appear to be stuck on the inside, within the child in the family role. This has the meaning that the impact of internal, familial and social factors, often in inextricable combinations, slows down or brings to a halt the adolescent development towards separateness and relative independence of parental figures. Thus, either physically or emotionally or both the adolescent is unable to become a ‘temporary outsider’. There is a range of adolescent difficulties that can be associated with being stuck on the inside. In order to explore the psychosocial aspects of these difficulties in adolescence, this chapter will discuss adolescents with phobias, body image disturbance and eating disorders and disabilities. This is followed by a discussion of depression and self-harm.
Stephen Briggs

8. Psychotic and Suicidal States in Adolescence

Abstract
In this chapter, the extremities of adolescent difficulties are discussed, especially suicide and suicidality, and psychosis and psychotic anxieties. The psychosocial context is discussed in order to consider the intersubjective as well as the subjective contexts of becoming suicidal or psychotic subjects in adolescence.
Stephen Briggs

9. Emerging into Adulthood

Abstract
The process of entering adulthood is, as we have seen, increasingly complex, and diverse. Overall, adolescence is extended into the third decade, though some adolescents who are among the more disadvantaged take a ‘fast track’ route into adulthood. For others, the ‘slow track’ route, taking longer to fully enter adulthood, implies that the process into adulthood needs reconceptualising to include thinking that the transition to adulthood can last at least the period up to the mid twenties. Chapters 1 and 2 explored this new thinking about the transition to adulthood. Amongst the many ways of characterising the route from adolescence into adulthood, we have focused on the tensions between individualised and relational aspects of subjectivity. This chapter explores the different ways that adolescents enter adulthood — or emerge into it. How taking up different adult roles impacts on subjectivity is discussed.
Stephen Briggs
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