Counselling for Life Transitions
Life is full of change and transition. These ‘transitions’ can be expected or unexpected. The way in which we cope with and manage these changes, and the feelings that these transitions bring about, can impact how we feel about ourselves, about others and about our lives. Counselling for Life Transitions helps you to both ‘prepare’ for the changes, perhaps those that you expect, and makes sense of the changes that you didn’t expect.
What is a life transition?
Taken literally, ‘to transition’ is the process of going from one state or condition to another.
The areas of life where transitions or a ‘transition period’ may affect you, are varied and vast. This is in part to do with the fact that what may feel like a big change for you, may be something that goes unnoticed by others. This can also happen in reverse . . . what can seem a real challenge to someone you know may seem small, irrelevant or go unnoticed by you. Some examples of transition areas in life are:
- Having a baby / babies
- Moving Jobs
- Moving Location (within or out of the country, or moving house)
- Getting married
- Experiencing your child or children leaving home
- Finding yourself single after a relationship, or divorced after being married. Equally, finding yourself in a relationship having been single
- Leaving home, either for university or another reason
- Illness or an accident that has affected someone you love, or an illness or accident that is affecting you
- The death of a loved one
- Change in your work pattern, i.e. to part-time from full-time or working from home after being in an office environment
- Significant birthdays e.g. turning 40, 21 or 60
- Moving from being a breadwinner to being at home, or vice versa
These are just some examples of the periods in life that are about transition.
As mentioned, the list could be endless because although there are clear markers of change in our lives e.g. leaving home or retiring, there can be subtler changes in our lives that impact all of us differently.
Feeling ‘stuck’, as though you are not transitioning
The other potential aspect that you may wish to explore in counselling, is when you feel as though those around you are transition and you are not. When your close friends, family or colleagues all appear to be marrying, having children, retiring, moving house . . . whatever it may be, the fact that others around you are transitioning, can be the trigger that throws a light on your own life and cause you to feel sad, anxious, or a myriad of other emotions about where you are in your own life and how you would like things to be different or how you would have liked things to have turned out differently.
On a bigger scale, transitioning out of one area of life and into another can throw up bigger ‘existential’ feelings . . . About the meaning of our lives, the value we gain from our lives and how we value ourselves.
Transitioning can bring up feelings such as the reality and inevitability of death or a feeling that time is ‘going too fast’ or ‘running out’ as we begin to face our own mortality.
Feeling anxious about our own mortality is normal, but when anxiety of death becomes persistent and constant, it can negatively impact your ability to engage with your life and can be very distressing.
Ageing and Life Transitions
Ageing is often linked to transitioning in life, perhaps because you are coming up to, or have recently experienced a ‘significant’ birthday or reached, what feels to you, like a significant age.
It could perhaps be a change in your life, such as retiring or having a child, that has brought about thoughts of your age.
Individuals can struggle with ageing at different points in their lives This can be about the physical changes that occur and / or the meaning you associate with your age and where you are in your life.
How Can Counselling and Psychotherapy Help?
Counselling and psychotherapy provides the space and time to look at your life and to talk about your life, in a way in which you may never have in the past.
Therapy also gives you a confidential space where you can share feelings that perhaps you would find difficult to share and discuss with others close to you. Therapy sessions give you the opportunity to talk to someone objective, who is separate from those close to you, about your life and your existence, and the way in which you are feeling unhappy with aspects of your life at present . . . feelings such as shame, guilt or regret.
By exploring your response to Transitioning, counselling can help you to begin to connect with yourself again, to manage your own wellbeing and to think about the future differently. It can begin a process of reflection, where you look at your life now, in relation to the past and the future, and decide on what you want to change, moving forward.