Failure to Launch

Making the leap into adulthood is tough for any kid, but it’s especially difficult for kids who have consistently struggled with managing anxiety, navigating transitions and mastering life skills as they get older.

Katie has taken a leave of absence from college and is back living at home with her family. She is feeling depressed, her parents are worried and don’t know how to help her move forward in her life.

Katie experienced more than typical challenges to adjusting to life away from home. It wasn’t the academics —she was surprised that her classes were less challenging than she anticipated. But she did not anticipate the social demands of college.

In high school, Katie had two close friends — friendships she made back in elementary school. She felt comfortable with these long time friends. They buffered her from the stress of navigating the social scene in high school. Without her friends, college felt foreign and overwhelming to her. Although her roommate was nice, Katie did not feel able to take their interactions to a deeper level so the pair grew uncomfortable with each other rather than closer.

As Katie became increasingly lonely and homesick, she became aware of how dependent she was on her two old friends from high school. She recognized how painful it is for her to navigate socially, especially with strangers and in groups. Even attending classes was difficult because she felt increasingly flooded by feelings of self-consciousness.

In making the leap from high school to college Katie faced challenges she didn’t have the social skills to handle on her own. She hadn’t yet developed the inner resources and self-confidence to make meaningful connections with other students, and this left her feeling isolated and unable to cope.

Katie is not alone in her suffering. Many young adults are daunted by the prospect of being in social environments that challenge their fundamental feelings of safety and competence. They often times feel stuck in their self-consciousness and shame.

Some of the challenges these young adults face are:

  • Despite their best efforts, finding themselves perplexed and frustrated by social interactions, either at school, or work and personally
  • Wanting to make friends or to date but struggling with knowing how to begin
  • Finding it difficult to tell how other people feel about them
  • Wanting to build more independent and fulfilling lives separate from the family, but struggling to make it happen


More details about Failure to Launch are in this Psychology Today article.


In Step can help your young adult build internal coping skills, develop self–confidence and learn to recognize and manage their anxiety in individual and group therapy.

We specifically offer group therapy for young adults facing the issues discussed above. The group’s goal is to build the social skills necessary to thrive at work, in school, in friendships, and in romantic relationships.

Group topics include:

  • Reading and responding to the unspoken rules of social engagement
  • Reading nonverbal social cues
  • Managing social anxiety
  • Finding opportunities to expand one’s social circle
  • Actively communicating social interest
  • Maintaining and deepening conversation
  • Increasing independence from the family

Learn more about our young adult groups >>