The Life-Prep Program: The basic psychological skills needed to become a successful young adult
The Origin of the Life-Prep Program
Fifteen-years ago Dr. Kaplan began her clinical work with young adults who had “failed to launch” successfully into independent life. In working with these individuals, she noticed despite the best and most current evidence-based treatment available, progress was taking a significant amount of time and effort. These individuals struggled to gain traction in financial, housing, employment, health, and social independence.
According to the Pew Research Center (2021), 52% of young adults (ages 18-24) are living with their childhood caretakers, a number which is now higher than during the Great Depression. This number has been steadily increasing over the years (e.g., in 2016 was approximately 45%). While the numbers increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not over and above what the trends had projected. The pandemic merely highlighted young adults failing to leave the home and gain independence as an issue of increasing alarm and concern.
The Life Prep Program is Based on Patient and Staff Feedback from the Washington Anxiety Center of Capitol Hill
During our many weekly staff meetings, the clinicians at our practice would repeatedly say “failure to launch” issues could have been prevented if at a younger age (13-21) these individuals could have developed a psychological, skills-based tool kit that would help to lessen the concerns later on or even prevent them entirely. Dr. Kaplan listened and incorporated her clinical experience, and those on her staff, to develop the “Life-Prep Program." She combined the opinions and needs of individuals experiencing “failure to launch” and their parental support systems in this prevention and foundations program.
How the Life Prep Program Works
The Life-Prep program is an 8-week, interactive, course that covers the following topics in depth.
Week 1: Learning our own strengths, weaknesses, and limitations
Week 2: Learning adult responsibilities
Week 3: Distress Tolerance
Week 4: Managing your social connections and expectations
Week 5: Problem solving and opportunities for “successful failures”
Week 6: Decision-making and organizational skills
Week 7: Using “skills” rather than “passion” to determine life satisfaction
Week 8: Goal setting: Making specific but flexible plans
The program is meant to be led by a psychologist or trained mental-health professional in a school or community-based setting. Each session is 45-minutes in length and is interactive among the instructor and the participants.
It is important to mention this program is NOT a therapy group. Think of this as a prevention and foundations program. Just as you could take driver’s education class to help prepare you to drive and pass your written and on-road exam, the “Life Prep Program” is meant to help young adolescents and adults (ages 13-21) gain the necessary psychological skills to help them launch in young adulthood.
It is most useful to build a psychological skills foundation before a young adult needs to be independent (ages 13-21). That way, there can be years of not only acquiring these skills, but fine tuning them as life presents its natural obstacles.
The Goals of the Life Prep Program
The 8-week course (45-minutes in length) includes a user/training manual for the professional and a skills-based manual for each participant. It is an interactive program, encouraging the following:
Acquisition of new psychological skills
Accountability towards practicing psychological skills and refining them per the individual
New and novel ways to approach situations, people, activities, thoughts, and feelings
Taking accountability for oneself
Independent problem-solving as a young adult
Defining and becoming a “successful” young adult
How can you get the "Life-Prep Program" in your community or school?
Choose from the following options:
Dr. Kaplan or another psychologist (from Washington Anxiety Center of Capitol Hill) can come to your school/community for the 8-week program in person and teach the “Life-Prep Program.”
Your school/community can purchase the “Life prep” program for your school or community and your counselor can self-teach with the professional manual and run the individual 8-week sessions
Dr. Kaplan or staff psychologist can supervise an on-site mental health professional (e.g., school counselor or health teacher) remotely.
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-768-6494 if you or your school and community are interested in offering our “Life-Prep program."
We would be pleased to send you the video for the first session for you to review (see below to request a video example).