It’s been six months since I have been working in Birmingham and as I am saying goodbye to the work I have been doing with Young People I am noticing another transition. As of next week I will be providing private counselling to those needing support with a range of issues. However this transition has been a theme in my life for the past six months and as a reflection, I have been asking myself ‘how do we cope with transitions in our lives?’
Coping with transition goes back to our early years where we would have experienced our first transition from being attached to our caregiver to entering the external world. In order for us to transfer from care giver to the external world we would have had a ‘transitional object’, for example a toy which becomes a substitute of the care giver. For those interested in reading more about this research ‘Winnicott’ and ‘Object Relations Theory’.
This led me to think about the multiple transitions we make through our lives, for example starting a new school, moving home, new jobs, new relationships. How are we managing these multiple transitions? Do we have ‘objects’ or ‘substitutes’ that we rely on to manage these multiple transitions?
As adults these may or may not be objects, and it maybe something we do in order for us to cope with these transitions, for example keeping hold of things or objects from previous places or relationships to give us a sense of ‘familiarity’.
However, our experience of early transition can impact how we deal with change in our adulthood; experiences of abuse, violence, neglect, and trauma can impact how we cope with transition. From these experiences we are likely to have developed survival mechanisms which become our ‘Modus Operandi’.
The good news is, change is possible; counselling can offer an opportunity to explore our multiple transitions and earlier childhood experiences. It can also offer an opportunity to become aware of how we cope in dealing with transition and change.