Are Anxiety and OCD Preventing Your Young Adult From Thriving?
Does your adult child struggle to grocery shop, eat out at restaurants, and maintain a job? Do they neglect activities of daily living like showering, dressing themself, completing chores, doing laundry, and making meals?
Maybe your child is experiencing headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, and rapid breathing. Or perhaps they feel doubts, worries, insecurity, shame, or even debilitating fear that leads to avoidance and further isolation. And as a result, they may spend most of their time in their room and are unwilling to interact with the family, go to school, or work.
Anxiety May Take Over Your Life As Much As Theirs
You may not even be sure what is keeping your adult child stuck. While they might not see the impact of their anxiety on their life, your life probably has been dramatically changed. They may need constant reassurance from you to complete a task. Or perhaps you are doing things for them that they are unwilling to do on their own.
The dreams you had for your child when they were younger are seeming farther and farther away from your and their reality. Their anxiety has led you to feel overwhelmed and exhausted, unsure of where to turn.
Fortunately, failure to launch counseling can help young adults to stand up to their anxiety and reclaim their life. And it can teach you how to best support your child’s efforts.
Adulting Is Hard, But Anxiety Can Make It Seem Impossible
Growing up comes with its own challenges. Many young adults experience some difficulty with the adjustment from living at home to going to college and then transitioning into their first job. Learning to be more independent and take on unfamiliar tasks takes time. This is a normal part of development.
While failure to launch is not a true diagnosis, it is a way to describe a young person who is struggling with adjusting to life as an adult and not maturing in age-appropriate ways. This might include their inability to leave the home and support themselves, including financially.
You Are Not Alone – Neither You, Nor Your Young Adult
For a parent/caregiver, it can be so frustrating and discouraging to see a loved one struggle with completing important daily living tasks. They may question what they have done wrong. It might also cause power struggles and arguments, especially if the parent feels like their son or daughter is just being lazy.
The underlying causes of this syndrome might vary—whether that is OCD, anxiety, or another related disorder. For example, your child’s fear might be related to an overwhelming sense of rejection (social anxiety) which prevents them from talking to people, asking questions, and interacting with society at large. Or fear of contamination or disgust with germs might make it difficult for them to leave their room (OCD). And low distress tolerance, limited motivation, and hours of sleep (depression) could also prevent them from feeling able to face day-to-day tasks.
Though the exact roots may be difficult to pinpoint, a combination of biological and behavioral factors is typically at play. With support from a counselor, you and your young adult can work to identify any possible underlying causes that might be contributing to their difficulty with sustaining a life on their own.
Counseling Can Help Change Your Young Adult’s Relationship With Anxiety
Failure to launch looks different for everyone, and treatment will involve both you and your young adult working together. If your child is unwilling to participate or to include you in treatment, we will meet with you separately.
At The OCD & Anxiety Center, our therapists will be a support to you and your young adult (if they are willing) to identify the underlying cause of their fears and develop strategies and skills to reduce anxiety’s impact.
What To Expect From Failure to Launch Therapy
We will begin with a thorough assessment and education on failure to launch and what maintains it, the importance of structure and expectations, and the role of accommodations.
Initially, therapy sessions will center around you, the parent(s), because, due to the anxiety that your young adult is experiencing, they might not be willing or able to engage in treatment right away. While that might be discouraging to you, these sessions are designed to be able to change your child’s behaviors by modifying yours, especially by reducing the number of accommodations.
Not wanting to see them struggle, you may often step in and do things for them. But this conveys the message that they cannot complete that task on their own, feeding their fears. Through counseling, you will learn how to support your young adult while not supporting or enabling their anxiety.
Failure to Launch Treatment Methods
At The OCD & Anxiety Center, evidence-based treatments are at the center of what we do. The gold standard for failure to launch syndrome is an approach called Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE), a program designed for children that was modified to help young adults. Through this program, your therapist will educate you on how to respond to your young adult’s anxiety, what to say and not say, how to handle power struggles and problematic behavior, how to set up expectations, and how to help motivate them.
When, and if, your child decides that they want to be involved, we can work with them through the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), two additional evidence-based approaches for anxiety. These goal-oriented approaches build on each other, session after session, and will allow your adult child to see that they can take back control of their life.
In CBT, a counselor can help young adults identify unhelpful and irrational thought patterns that are keeping them stuck. They will learn that, while they cannot stop themselves from having certain thoughts, they can choose to look at and respond to those thoughts differently.
Through ERP, your child will be encouraged to gradually and repetitively face their fears. They will work with their therapist to create a fear hierarchy, starting from smallest to largest. By practicing these exposures, they will learn to face their fears, seeing that their feared outcome is not as likely as they thought.
Through the combination of ERP, CBT, and SPACE, your young adult can learn to thrive the way that you always knew that they could. This will change your relationship with them, their relationship with anxiety, and their relationship with the world at large.
Perhaps You Are Considering Treatment for Failure to Launch Syndrome But Still Have Some Concerns…
My child will not leave their room. How do I get them to participate?
When anxiety takes over, avoidance is usually the quickest and easiest fix. While we would love to work with both you and your young adult in therapy, the SPACE: Failure to Launch program can work with or without their involvement. There is a lot that we can do with parents to help them help their child take the steps needed to get back into the world.
I am so overwhelmed; nothing has worked. Can this really make a difference?
We understand how difficult it is to parent a young adult, especially when what worked for one of your other children is not working for this one. CBT, ERP, and SPACE are evidence-based treatments that will allow us to work alongside you in a very structured and goal-oriented way to teach you how to respond to your child’s anxiety, indirectly teaching them how to manage their fears.
Depending on the severity of their symptoms, we might recommend more frequent sessions initially. As progress is made, the frequency of sessions can, and will, be reduced.
My child does not want me involved in their treatment.
We will make every effort to encourage your young adult child to include you in treatment. However, if we are not able to, we recommend that you receive your own therapy sessions to learn the parent’s piece of the treatment. We often find this more helpful than working with the young adult.
Your Young Adult Can Learn To Live the Life Of Their Dreams
If anxiety and OCD have taken your young adult’s life from them, making their dreams seem like a small blimp on the horizon, failure to launch counseling can teach them the skills needed to get their life back. To address further concerns or schedule an appointment, please call us at (630) 522-3124 or email us at email@example.com.