There are four critical times in our lives when we often need support. Unfortunately, we don’t recognize these periods, or are not sure where to turn to for support, or have too much of an ego to reach out for help. This is true for us as individuals, coaches or counselors. It is not only true for us but also for the people we are close to – and our clients! These four high-risk periods are:
(i) When there is an interpersonal LOSS – A loss is not only the death of a loved one – though this is possibly the most difficult and traumatic episode in a person’s life. There are types of losses that are not so overt: losing one’s job, relocating to a new place and losing one’s old friends, family and environment; loss of health (this can include being diagnosed with diabetes or cancer); loss of a friend or romantic partner, divorce and so on.
(ii) When there is an interpersonal ROLE DISPUTE – This happens when two people have different expectations of their relationship and of the role each should play. Typical scenarios include that between a husband and wife, team members, boss and subordinate, parent and child (and I don’t mean a little child – I mean a 35 year old child and his/her 65 year old parent) and so on.
(iii) When there is an interpersonal ROLE TRANSITION – Major life changes bring about transitions that we are seldom well prepared for. This could include getting married (or now increasingly, getting divorced), the birth of a child, getting a promotion (or being left behind), starting a new business or career, moving to a new location or job and so on.
(iv) When there is an interpersonal DEFICIT – These could be areas where one is extremely shy, or unassertive, or socially awkward, or lacks confidence. This impacts both one’s personal and professional life spaces.
While some of these situations are harder to manage than others, in nearly all cases we could cope with them more effectively if we had someone to lean on. This might be a close friend, a trusted family member, a coach or a counselor. This trusted resource would help us in understanding and sharing our feelings; encourage us to reach out to our network of family, friends or colleagues; see that we not withdraw into social isolation; push us to have those difficult conversations; and help us heal in the ways we need to. The advantage we have when we reach out to a trained coach or counselor is that they know how best to support us in each situation.
For example, in times of loss, the coach/counselor would help with the grief process, deal with feelings of anger, and encourage forgiveness where appropriate.
In role disputes, the coach might help with conflict resolution, teach coping skills, or provide support to make the best of a difficult situation.
In role transitions, the coach might allay the feeling of being overwhelmed, help develop supportive networks, and teach new skills.
With deficits, the coach could point out blind spots, explore more adaptive behaviors, and teach relevant skills.
The danger for us is that these four transitions – if not handled effectively – are high risk for causing emotional and psychological distress. It can even impact one’s health! Why take this risk when one can reach out for support? So, support your friend or colleague to reach out for help – or reach out for yourself!
If someone you know is going through any of these four critical situations and would like some support through the transition, please feel free to connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
References: Comer, R. J. (2015). Abnormal Psychology (9th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.