The THRIVE Center for Emerging Young Adults


Expectations For Change

What Can I Expect To Change If My Young Adult Participates In The Move Up Program?

Development takes time and is dependent on many cognitive, psychological and family dynamic factors.

The Move Up program does not address all of these emotional factors, but focuses on those practical skills which build a solid foundation and contribute to the progress of a struggling to launch young adult.

To understand what a realistic rate of progress in this group of young adults may be, it is important to understand who they are as a group when they come into the program. Most struggling to launch young adults are challenged by a shared set of problems, including:

  • Multiple life failures (academic, employment, social) leading to poor self-esteem, learned helplessness, a lack of motivation and an unwillingness to take the risk necessary for growth;
  • Emotional shut down from years of poorly processed feelings and an inability to effectively manage intolerable emotional experiences;
  • Difficulty communicating feelings and needs to key members of their communities (parents, teachers, peers, health professionals);
  • A range of traumatic experiences from abuse to bullying to the "small t" trauma of ADHD and other untreated psychological conditions (panic disorder, mood disorders, social anxiety);
  • Over-use of substances and processes (e.g., video gaming) to avoid dealing with real-life challenges;
  • Poor fundamental life skills, including grooming, money management, time management and effective planning for the future;
  • Disenchantment with prior treatment experiences; and
  • Complex family dynamics, in which parents are unclear how to fully support their young adult in this transition to independence; and in which growth-impeding patterns may limit progress

Readiness And Change

Young adults and families come to Move Up with varying levels of readiness to engage in the lengthy and difficult work of growth. For some, the deeper emotional and family work of our more intensive program is too demanding as a first step into dealing with the challenges of failure to launch.

But parents must be realistic – if they opt for a skills-based program, their young adult – and the family – may not be prepared to make full use of the skills being conveyed, and sustained learning may require several cycles through the program, or possibly movement to a higher level of care available in Heron's Gate.

But even those young adults and families ready for change must appreciate that the complex processes that led to failure to launch in the first place will take time to modify -- and may be only partially modified with a skills-based approach. Still, learning essential life skills can be an important jumping off point for the family to begin grappling with the complex developmental processes underlying launch.

So what changes might occur in the first month? Again, an appreciation of the slow and nuanced processes of psychological, cognitive and behavioral change is necessary if parents are to set realistic expectations for growth – and deal with the frustrations that will inevitably arise as the young adult continues for many months to engage in those behaviors characteristic of failure to launch.

Pacing Of Progress

Our goal is to screen your young adult to make sure that their emotional issues are not so severe that they might interfere with their ability to learn and practice the life skills taught in Move Up.

We suggest strongly that you view Move Up as a multi-month process. Since the young adults in Heron's Gate have typically been through a number of unsuccessful social, academic and work experiences, they will first approach the program with some degree of caution and resistance. Over the first month, trust and engagement will build as the participants allow themselves to become part of a supportive learning community. Functional skills will be in the early stage of adoption – participants are just beginning to practice what they are being exposed to during the first month.

During months two and three, we begin to see a stronger application of the skills.

As with any learner, the Move Up participants will engage with the work at varying rates and with varying degrees of success. What is most important for this developmental process to be successful is that the young adult and parents are kept informed of progress and problems, are provided with the opportunity to address their concerns and are able to maintain realistic expectations for change. 

The program review meeting at the end of the first month offers the family the forum for a frank discussion of the young adult's participation and for exploring on-going treatment plans.

Peer-Based Programs >>