Crossing the bridge from childhood to adulthood has never been so daunting. The time of adolescence is longer than ever and yet society today offers little support in understanding or facilitating this transition. This course is designed to be used by parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, professionals – anyone who desires to make sense of adolescence. Parents of pre- teens will find this course invaluable as preparation for what lies ahead.

Making Sense of Adolescence is a two-part course composed of fourteen sessions in total. The first part –The Seven Rites of Passage – consists of ten sessions. The second part of the course – Adolescence & Sexuality – consists of four sessions and can be registered for separately at a later time if preferred. Part I, however, is the prerequisite for Part II.

Course Description

The key to making sense of the adolescent is to understand the underlying developmental dynamics as well as the attachment needs of the adolescent. These needs are typically underestimated due to the physical maturity of adolescents and the resistance to dependence that can result from becoming prematurely attached to peers. Adding to the confusion is the fact that there is more than one developmental pathway to adulthood and societal integration.

Adolescence literally means ‘growing into maturity’. An adolescent is neither child nor adult and therein lies much of the difficulty, the turbulence, the confusion and the challenge. They need us, yet need to not need us. We are their best bet, yet their instincts are to resist us. Unlike primitive cultures, our highly complex society requires a lengthy adolescence with very few rites of passage. The task of turning children into adults has never been more daunting!

Nature’s part in creating grown-ups is to equip them for adult functioning around the time of puberty, ready or not. These changes create their own rites of passage that the adolescent must negotiate to truly mature. Unfortunately, growing up is not a given; not all adolescents embrace their developmental destiny. The most common temptation of adolescence is to replace parents with peers instead of becoming one’s own person. The most common mistake of adults is to back off prematurely. As long as an adolescent is not yet viable as a separate being, he or she is meant to be attached to those responsible for him or her.

These rites of passage create challenges for parents and teachers as well: the adolescent’s new found idealism makes them critical of us; their developmental self-absorption makes them deaf to our perspective; their acute allergy to coercion makes them rather difficult to direct.

Our challenge as adults is to help our teens cross the bridge from childhood to adulthood, to encourage them to embrace their developmental destiny and to ultimately shoehorn them into adult society. Meanwhile, we have the day-to-day challenge of parenting and teaching them, of guiding and directing them, of shielding them from stress.

Adolescence is truly the womb of adulthood and those enveloped in supportive adult relationships have the greatest chance of successfully negotiating this tumultuous time. The challenge is not to treat them as if they were children nor to retreat from them as if they were adults. Learning to ‘dance’ with an adolescent commands the very best in us.

Click here to read the description for Part II of the Adolescence course: Adolescence and Sexuality.


This material is relevant to anyone who is involved or will be involved with teenagers: parents, grandparents, teachers, counsellors, youth workers, family workers, therapists, social workers, psychologists. This course can be used for professional development for teachers, continuing education for helping professionals, and staff training for youth programs. This course is also appropriate for parents of preteens to prepare them for the transition.

Formats & Fees

This course is available in the following formats: ONLINE CAMPUS COURSE and LECTURE VIDEO. See Course Format Options for format delivery, access, and content details.

Tuition includes a four-month Virtual Campus study pass. See More On Online Campus Courses for further information on our two campus course formats (Self-Paced Study and Scheduled Online Class). Visit the course details page to register. If there is an upcoming Scheduled Online Class it will be posted directly above the Self-Paced Study button on the left-hand side.

LECTURE VIDEO FORMAT - $165 (*discount available for Making Sense of Adolescence Part I alumni)
Click on the Purchase Access to Lecture Video button on the left-hand side of the course details page to register. Course Content Note: Lecture Video format does not include two additional sessions recorded in 2021 that are included with the Online Campus Course, although the basic content and message remains the same.

*Lecture Video format 50% discount available for students who have previously taken the course as an Online Campus Course or in-person. Email our office for a promo code BEFORE you register.


course objective

The objective of this course is to make sense of adolescents from inside out. Every adolescent is an individual of course, but there are some common dynamics that affect all adolescents. Understanding what these dynamics are can provide the keys for knowing how to deal with the problems that may arise.

some of the topics addressed include:
• the psychological changes at puberty that impact adolescents and those that parent and work with them
• how to deal with the premature loss of power and influence with an adolescent
• how to recognize when rebellion is healthy or a result of adults being replaced by peers
• the psychological temptations faced by adolescents on their journey to maturity
• how parents and teachers can avoid premature or forced retirement
• how to preserve or restore one’s rightful place in an adolescent’s life
• how to differentiate between relationship problems and behaviour problems in the adolescent
• how to hold on without holding them back

Course Outline

Session 1 - Crossing the bridge: adolescence in perspective
Session 2 - Two paths diverge: conformity versus individuality
Session 3 - Walking through aloneness and sadness: the necessary road to individuation
Session 4 - Taking a wrong turn: when peers replace adults
Session 5 - The counterwill storm: how to survive teen resistance
Session 6 - Why adolescents need to feel more than ever
Session 7 - Becoming tempered: the key to adolescent balance and stability
Session 8 - Why adolescents need to play more than ever
Session 9 - Reclaiming our youth: how to hold, or win back, their hearts
Session 10 - Becoming a sexual being: the pursuit of proximity in another dimension

© 2024 The Neufeld Institute