An NVR approach provides a relational, and systemic approach to illuminating the pathway from dependency to independence for the Adult-Child (A-C) that has Yet to Launch (YTL).

‘Yet to launch’, adult-children that are over the age of 18 years of age, are not in employment not participating meaningfully in education or training and are living in the family home at the parent’s expense.  They are dependent on their parents for services, mediation with the outside world, financial support, and accommodation. This phenomenon is a growing challenge for parents worldwide and often referred to as Adult-Entitled-Dependence or Non-Functioning. This dependence is in complete contradiction of the person’s known capacity to function. The young adult may or may not have a disability or mental health condition.

To date parents have been “helpless” as young adults are often resistant and outright refuse support from outside the home, including talk therapies, occupational therapy, or independent living skills support from disability services where applicable. Pharmacological interventions can be very “hit and miss” as its success is dependent on the A-C meaningfully engaging with professionals in the mental health services, as well as using internal resources to help them manage anxiety and other mental health conditions and adherence to medication routines.

It is “exhausting and wearing” trying to support the A-C to Launch when they are not motivated or invested in making changes to their lifestyle and ways of being.  This leaves parents with the onerous task of trying to get the A-C on board by using extrinsic motivation strategies such as rewards and consequences which the young adult has stopped responding to.  Without the intrinsic motivation of the A-C, patterns of interactions in the home between family and A-C become fraught, anxious, and often violent in attempts to help the A-C to overcome their challenges. It is very challenging living with the adult-child that has yet to launch, and it can be soul-destroying for parents to see them, seemingly so helpless.

Parental behaviours to try and encourage ‘launching’: providing services, financial supports, and making accommodations to the young person’s, instead of alleviating the problem can unwittingly aggravate and enable the behaviours.

Figure 1. Examples of Financial Supports, Services and Accommodations we engage in to overcome the challenges which may be unwittingly, enabling the A-C to remain ‘stuck, unmotivated and dependent.’

Parental behaviour change in NVR offers the parents the means to shift away from a stance of helplessness & powerlessness towards empowerment. Moving beyond the feelings of shame and blame that often persecute the parent of adult-children that have ‘yet to launch’. It is the treatment for their offspring, but it is the parents that attend the sessions.

The beauty of the systemic approach is that parents can do the work without the collaboration of their offspring. Systemic approach postulates that when one part of the system changes, the other parts have no choice but to change too. To illustrate my point here is an example: Cogs in a wheel, if the cogs in one wheel change, then the interdependence, of the cogs on the other wheels, dictate, they too must adjust and adapt to the changed system. Intrinsic motivation in the A-C can be evoked systematically by reducing the financial support, services and the accommodations. When motivated they begin to think and do things for themselves. A quite simple example of this action is if we stop the delivery of food to the bedroom the A-C will eventually get hungry (motivation) and venture to the kitchen in search of food.

Treatment begins with the Parent’s induction to the principles of the NVR intervention i.e. self-care, de-escalations and deferred responses, announcements, sit-ins, siblings, reconciliatory gestures, and supporter.  Working through the additional modules as relevant.

Mirroring capacity-potential

The NVR practitioner illuminates the strengths, capacities and abilities and potential adult-child and “holds” the belief for the parents “that their A-C can move beyond dependency to independence, that they can become and a fully functioning adult in life: working, training, socially connected and living independent of the parents. Parents in turn hold this belief for the young person and mirror it back to them as the A-C is, nudged, towards independence.

Financial support, services, and accommodations

Parents are encouraged to chart the financial support, services, and accommodations that are inadvertently allowing the A-C to continue dependence on parents and their siblings. With the support of the NVR practitioner, they will begin systematically, withdrawing financial support and stop the services. Accommodation will be changed for empathic, supportive statements that acknowledge how difficult the tasks are for the A-C and convey confidence and belief in their ability to overcome their challenges.

Evoking intrinsic motivation:

Extrinsic motivation is when we are motivated to perform a behaviour or engage in an activity because we want to earn a reward or avoid punishment. Parents are conditioned to use extrinsic motivators i.e., rewards for good behaviour and consequences and punishment for behaviours that challenge. As we all know well, this approach has not worked for your A-C to date.

The intrinsic motivation approach is far more effective. Intrinsic motivation is when you engage in a behaviour because you find it rewarding or meaningful. You are performing an activity for its own sake rather than from the desire for an external reward. An example of this would be if your A-C treasures their mobile phone, but it is you that funds the credit and unlimited data as well as physically going to get the credit. If you refused to pay out for limitless credit and data, then your A-C would be motivated to find some other way of getting the credit and data. The very fact that they must find an alternative is challenging the choices they make every day. They must now think, problem solve and make different choices e.g., does he do without the phone credit? or will he find another way to get credit and data?  Suddenly the realisation hits, data/credit is not in endless supply, so they must act.

Recognising capacity and Skills teaching:

The NVR practitioner partners with parents to identify their A-C’s skills and strengths. This is often an eye-opening exercise where parents come to recognise the potential, strengths, and skills of their A-C. It can be pleasantly surprising for parents to see their A-C is far more skilled and capable than they have realised. Parents are encouraged to address the A-C skills deficits in the Activities of Daily Living, such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting, shopping etc. Parents enlist the support of relevant services where possible e.g., disability services, mental health services and community services such as GP, occupational therapists, jobs clubs etc.

Non-functioning adults who have not followed the normative separation process from their parents have delayed becoming an independently functioning adult. The power of NVR provides a parental behaviour treatment option for the young person that they do not have to actively participate in or agree to. Parents change their behaviour without trying to control their young person or asking them to change. Instead, they systematically reduce accommodating the services and financial support to the young person that evokes intrinsic motivation to start functioning and moving towards independence.

Of course, your young person is not going to agree to the changes. They do not see the connection (but you do) between taking personal responsibility and action for their health and well-being, improvements in functioning and quality of life. They do not accept the need to change their behaviour. Everything is working fine for them and if it is not then it is always someone else’s fault. In their mind, the parents are the obvious problem, it is a parental attitude problem. We believe parents are not the problem, but they are certainly part of the solution.

NVR helps parents to continue to resist the self-destructive behaviours of non-functioning A-C. Together we prepared to manage “kick-back” using the de-escalation principle. The parents network of support is enabled so they are not on this journey alone, and self-care becomes a priority so they can stay for the long haul. NVR is an approach that has momentous success in helping parents to Illuminate the pathway from dependency to independence for the Adult-Child that has ‘Yet to Launch’.

  Evoking the change, from ‘Yet to Launch’ to ‘Launching’ & ‘Launched’.   

Written by

Margaret Gilbert,
Life & Parent Coach
Accreditation Module Participant, 2023


This blog provides general information and discussions about NVR and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as professional advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional expertise or treatment. If you or any other person has a concern, you should consult with a professional NVR advisor. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog or in any linked materials.

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