Life Transition Counselling
Many of the people who come to see me as clients are undergoing one or more of a wide variety of major life transitions. These people vary in very many ways. They could be of any age, ethnicity, family status, profession or sex, but they share the common characteristic of undergoing a major life transition or transitions of some kind. For these people, something foundational in their lives is “in transit.”
Major Life Transitions are Hugely Varied
Not only are these people varied, but they also go through a wide variety of life transitions including any of the following:
- externally imposed change in career
- termination of relationship or divorce
- discovery of betrayal or infidelity
- challenges around sexual identity or orientation
- burnout, whether in career or personal life
- serious personal illness or accident
- major disruptions in family relationships
- adoption-related crises in adults
- crises related to moving, relocation or immigration
- crises related to retirement
- serious illness or death of a loved one
- major illness or disability of a child or significant other
- any of a huge range of other life-altering changes
The Pain Points of Major Life Transitions
Major life transitions can be extraordinarily painful and disruptive. The individual undergoing them can feel highly disoriented — very much as if he or she has been completely wrenched out of ordinary life. Everyday life can seem joyless and flavorless. The experience of crisis can also very often leave people feeling isolated and alone, and feeling very much as if no one in their world really knows (or possibly even cares) what they are going through. Often, major life transitions can be associated with economic uncertainty.
The particular transition a person is undergoing may make almost anything else hard to think about, especially if elements of betrayal, crisis or trauma are associated. Simultaneously, the individual may have only limited time to think about alternate possibilities for the future, especially when thinking about a major new direction (such as a new job, more education or training, moving, or leaving a relationship).
Beyond the Impasse
For people confronting a major life transition, a vital element may be finding a way to deal with overpowering feelings. There is often a deep need in the individual for self-acceptance, for acceptance of life as it is, and to find a way to move through seemingly insoluble dilemmas, to make seemingly “impossible to make” decisions, and so, to move back into living.
To those locked in an impasse, a relationship with a depth psychotherapist who is deeply respectful of the individual’s story, and who is a genuinely supportive presence throughout the transition, can be invaluable.