Extracts from our Adolescent Psychology Course Notes:

What is Adolescence?

Adolescence is often a period of crisis for the young person and his/her family.

Adolescence and the idea of teenagers is a relatively new concept. Prior to education for all, people were adults or children. However, since the 1950s, the idea of a teenager has developed. Adolescence is a time of great transition, physically, mentally and emotionally for a child, as they move from childhood to adulthood. We will consider more on these changes in future lessons. In this lesson, we will consider the different theories in relation to human development, particularly focussing on adolescence.

What is Puberty?


Puberty is period in life prior to adolescence. During this time a rapid sequence of physical changes occurs, resulting in maturation. While the process has been studied, it is still not fully understood. We will cover the physical changes that occur in puberty in more detail in the next lesson.

Changes occur to:

· The Endocrine system (hormones) which directs changes in:

o Body Composition (muscle and fat content)

o Reproductive System

During puberty there is more rapid growth, sexual developments (e.g. Growth of pubic hair, breasts in girls etc), change in voice and a range of other changes.

Many psychological changes accompany puberty:

  • Parents and friends begin treating you differently
  • Growing consciousness about body image
  • Changes in hormone concentrations contribute to and increase in variable and negative emotions
  • Girls are commonly upset (even if only slightly) by their first period
  • Risk taking behaviours can increase (altered perception of own invincibility)
  • Individuals who confront puberty earlier or later than their peers may perceive themselves differently
  • Interest in opposite sex

Problems that Arise

There are many problems that can arise during adolescence

A biopsychological approach to understanding these problems will consider the interaction between biological, psychological and social factors. If an adolescent succumbs to drugs this would be explained as having been caused by the person’s biology (i.e. Genetics and brain processes) interacting with their psychology (i.e. Emotions, state of mind, stresses etc) together with social situation (e.g. the sort of people they interact with).

Another way of understanding problems (i.e. developmental psychopathological approach) would link early precursors (e.g. earlier life experiences) to outcomes.

For More Information on our Course in Adolescent Psychology, click here

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