“Failure to Launch”
“Failure to Launch” Counseling
“Failure to Launch” syndrome typically refers to young adults who do not venture out on their own when they reach adulthood. Healthy progression into adulthood typically involves independent living, maintaining employment, and cultivating satisfying relationships. For various reasons, this developmental process can become interrupted leading a person to have very little desire to contribute to their own emotional and financial independence.
Failure to launch syndrome is often associated with low self-esteem and self-confidence, dependency on others, seemingly feelings of entitlement, difficulties in problem solving and managing normal life situations, and self-sabotage. And there are a variety of factors that can contribute to a person’s failure to launch, some of these including overparenting, mental health concerns, and unresolved trauma.
Many families and individuals struggle with this issue and therefore seek professional guidance for help in launching. Therapy can help individuals learn healthy coping skills, restructure their unhelpful thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and gain the motivation and confidence needed to move forward into adulthood. Therapy can also help families (often parents) to learn non-enabling ways of supporting their adult kids, though many families may need to do their own work in addressing whatever fears or unresolved wounds they have in their own lives.
Some strategies that we’ve used to help with this population include:
Reasonable goal setting
A focus on gaining and maintaining employment
Skill building for things that include daily self-care tasks, cultivating relationships, and communication
Fostering internal motivation and an intrinsic reward system
Taking over financial responsibilities (over time), including for therapy
Helping families let go of financial responsibilities over time
Addressing mental health or substance use concerns
Addressing enabling behaviors and lack of accountability in the system