Atlanta Therapy for Life TransitionsKathleen Leser, LCSW. Atlanta Therapist.
Life’s journey is full of twists, turns, detours, road blocks and other challenges. Although some of these bumps in the road can be navigated in such a way that we are able to stay on course, some necessitate that we reevaluate the road we are taking. These situations can come in the form of life transitions or major life changes.
A certain event can be considered a life transition if it compels you to reexamine the way you live your life. Some transitions, which are part of the life cycle, are predictable. Other transitions, which are unexpected, can be disrupting and disturbing. In many cases, a life transition serves as a milestone event in your life, one that you will regard in the future as a turning point. A life transition completes a particular chapter of life, and opens up a new one with different people, places, circumstances and experiences.
We can expect to go through many transitions during our lifetime. Some common transitions grouped in general categories include:
- Educational: Starting school as a young child, advancing over the years and graduating from high school, attending college or technical training
- Early adult life: Leaving the family home, establishing your own home, new job, new romantic relationship, new social network, new routines
- Early to mid-life: Marriage or a committed partnership, having a child, building and establishing a career, maintaining and building social network
- Mid-life: New job, career change, job loss, early retirement, child leaving the home / empty nest, divorce, remarriage, widowhood, health changes, caregiving of elderly parent
- Elderly: Retirement, part-time employment, volunteering, pursuit of personal interests and hobbies, grandchildren, widowhood, chronic illness, decline in health, modifying lifestyle to accommodate health conditions, changes in living environment, reliance on others for assistance with daily living
“The only thing that is constant is change.”
Change is a part of life. Some life transitions are welcomed and viewed as positive, such as a new job, a promotion, marriage, births and moving to a carefully chosen home or location. Nonetheless, these kind of changes can have their own respective stressors and challenges. Getting a promotion at work is great, however, there may be more pressure with the new position and more time at work may be required. While a new parent is elated by the birth of their child, there may be financial worries and concern about child care. Unwanted life transitions, such as the discovery of a health problem, a broken relationship, job loss or death of a loved one, can be quite upsetting and disturbing. A person in this situation may feel as if he / she has lost their way. A happy and desired situation or way of life has been taken away. Grieving the loss and deciding how to rebuild or reinvent aspects of your life is challenging. As an Atlanta counselor, I encourage you to seek professional assistance, if needed, during this process.
The Difficulty of Life Transitions
Major life changes, whether regarded as positive or adverse, involve varying degrees of difficulty. Most humans resist change. The unknown is uncomfortable. Letting go of the familiar and facing uncertainty is stressful and perhaps frightening. Other feelings may be experienced such as fear, doubt, confusion, overwhelm, frustration, depression, anger and helplessness.
Coping with Major Life Changes
Transitions are a process. Letting go of the old and adapting to the new takes time, courage and self-compassion. Some suggested coping skills are:
- Recognize that something is ending. This acknowledgement allows acceptance. It helps prepare for the arrival of the new.
- Attend to the transition. It is appropriate to grieve and / or celebrate. Consider the lessons learned. Look for positives. For instance, dealing with a major change may result in feeling more confident, stronger and better prepared for other challenges.
- Assess your strengths. Remember that you have gone through other transitions and emerged on the other side. Reflect on your capabilities and accomplishments.
- Explore the possibilities of the new. What opportunities are opening up? Think about what you can do. Reflect on what is within your control.
- Focus on each positive step you take. Set aside time to honor the actions you are taking.
- Seek support. Reach out to family, friends, colleagues, community organizations and other resources. If you are having difficulty working through a transition and it is effecting your daily life, therapy may help.
Ready to talk?
I welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your concerns. I offer an initial fifteen minute phone consultation at no charge. I look forward to talking with you.