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Failure to Launch Syndrome is not a Syndrome

‘Failure to launch’: a horrible turn of phrase to describe young adults or emerging adults who have yet to leave the home. And thanks to Matthew McConaughey and his movie from 2006, it is the name that family members, siblings and even the clients themselves use to describe their experience with leaving home. Unlike the Hollywood RomCom, most emerging adults living at home do not have 6 pack abs and Sarah Jessica Parker chasing them out of the basement with a glass of wine in hand.

In real life, today’s young adults may be trapped in a “Failure to Launch” economy that hasn’t yet provided entry level work in career-building occupations, co-mingled with dynamics of depression, anxiety autism spectrum obstacles, emerging major mental health issues, trauma with substance use that she is struggling with.

And beyond their diagnosis, they are struggling with who they are, how to move forward and I just returned from the Young Adult Transition Association (YATA) annual conference – with a nod to Seinfeld, I went to Idaho for a 3-day conference about Failure to Launch, YATA YATA YATA. There were a couple of sessions that I attended where the question or challenge came up about using other phrases to describe these students like extended dependence, adulting dependence, adulting overwhelm, inhibited autonomy, extended dependence or my favorite — life progression challenged.

I did what all web people do when they hear “don’t use this phrase,” -shame enveloped me because I have it all over this website, it is a category. Then I checked Google Trends to see what people are searching for on Google – and it is “Failure to Launch”. After all, we know that adolescence does not end until 25 and long ago the insurance companies knew this also.

And so this blog has two goals, first challenge to all the professionals who work with this profile: create a phrase that works — you tell me what it is, change your language and the families will change theirs; write blogs with the new phrase so that Google will begin to notice it; get articles published in journals and magazines. Help me help the emerging adults identify not as a failure when they are describing themselves and their behaviors.

Secondly, this blog is an explanation: dig deep when you are reading up on All Kinds of Therapy’s ‘‘Failure to Launch’ category. What about your young adult or yourself makes you think “failure to launch” is your category? What behaviors are young adults presenting to cause a click on that category? If you are a young adult perusing the website: What do you think you need for that final motivation, or to embody success in the indifferent adult world?



see Emerging Adulthood is a Safer Approach