Life transitions

Are you thinking of getting married? Do you want to consider a new job or going back to school? Do you have challenges parenting or supporting your aging parents?

Life offers us times where we recognize ourselves at the brink of significant life transitions. These transitions are part of life and when addressed well we can live fully in our lives and through these transitions.

If you are recognizing yourself at the brink of a life change there are a few things to consider …

Change is inevitable

Life transitions give us opportunity to grow when they are met with openness and vulnerability. What causes people to have challenges during these life stages is a reluctance to understand and change their thoughts and behaviors during times of life transition. Change is inevitable. There are parts of life that are beyond our control, the key is to embrace the reality that our life transitions bring and allows ourselves to consider what are the opportunities for growth in this new phase of life.

Change comes with feelings

There are a lot of ways that we react to the life transitions we face. Life transitions can bring upon feelings of anxiousness or uncertainty. At times you may feel overwhelmed or eager for the change to take place. Sometimes there are feelings of guilt or remorse that are associated with the changes that life brings us. All of those feelings, amongst many others, are a natural and understandable part of life and are better managed when addressed with someone who is able to help navigate during times of transition and change.

Change comes in both big and less-big ways

Technically we refer to “big” and “less-big’ life changes as macro and micro life changes.

Macro changes are the major life movements like getting married, having children, graduating from school, loss of parent, spouse or child, changing vocations, getting divorced, and retirement.

Micro changes are the movements within those macro changes. These are changes within your relationships with your spouse, promotions and terminations in our vocations, role changes in the relationship with your aging parents, the joys and challenges that comes with each stage of raising children and the unexpected feelings of the anticipated empty nest.

Change does not happen in isolation

Change happens in the midst of the rest of our lives, and in that the rest of our lives are factors in the change that is in front of us. Sometimes the other areas of our life support this life transition and enable the change to be fully engaged. At other times, the other parts of our life make accepting life transitions hard to understand and difficult to navigate.

Change comes in the identification of self

Who am I? Who do I want to become? What is keeping me from who I want to be? Who is able to support me during this time?

Understanding who you are and what you want to become is the way that life transitions allow us to grow. This is often considered the “opportunity” that is realized within each life transition. Identity of self is key to understanding where you are enabling change and what is hindering you from that change that is in front of you.

How does counseling help in life transitions?

There are two major modalities or interventions I utilize to address life transitions in the therapy room. One way is to use an intervention known as Solution Focused Therapy which is a short-term intervention that focuses on the client’s present reality and possible future orientation. The origination of the problem is not the focus of the counseling session, rather the focus is on the reality as it currently exists and the possibilities that can be imagined and implemented. Clients can expect to schedule 5 to 6 sessions, depending upon the presenting challenges and the readiness of the client to address the changes necessary.

Another intervention I use in the therapy room is Narrative Therapy. This post-modern model of therapy allows the client the opportunity to examine how the origination of who they are in terms of their habits, values, and understanding of self in an attempt to re-define their lives and their reality by differentiating self from the societal expectations that surround us. This process is more pragmatic than other interventions. The goal of the therapy process is to better understand how our understanding of self allows us to be the person we desire to be. Sessions can range from 6 to 10 or more sessions depending upon the presenting challenge and the readiness of the client to address the changes necessary.