Change is a normal part of human life, if not the one thing we can reliably count on!
Most of us navigate the twists and turns of our life on our own or with the help of friends or a support system.
However, sometimes change happens to a degree that taxes our ability to cope. Too much change, too fast or maybe not fast enough, leaves us feeling overwhelmed. Challenging or confusing circumstances may require adaptation outside our comfort zone.
Life transitions take many forms: new jobs/lost jobs, retirement, moves to new places, leaving the familiar behind, divorces and marriages involving blended families, changes in physical health, becoming a caretaker. Births, deaths. Anything experienced as a new beginning, or an ending, which tasks us to adapt in new, unfamiliar or uncomfortable ways, can potentially be stressful.
Our world view may be challenged and one may feel lost or in unknown territory. What was solid and known in our lives is now completely different and the old ways of coping may not be enough. We may experience greater discontent and stronger emotions.
In such cases, we may need new coping tools and a fresh perspective on our circumstances. We may need to mourn what is gone or find courage to step into something new. Taking the time to explore the changed circumstances and process the emotional changes can be beneficial if we find ourselves stuck.
My approach in helping clients thru life transitions is to help them emotionally and cognitively process the shift from the old to the new. In such times it is not uncommon for the mind and emotions to need more time to catch up with circumstances. Learning tools, such as body-centered mindfulness to work with one's emotions, provides clients with skills not just for the moment, but for a lifetime. Cognitive-behavioral work helps clients gain insight and embrace new behaviors that may be required. As new coping skills are gained, clients are empowered to move into new circumstances with greater ease, and find greater acceptance in their situations.
AMY WINTERS, LCSW
PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR ADULTS