Counseling for Life Transitions

Counseling for Life Transitions

Lansing Counseling Provides Counseling For All Types of Life Transitions


Change. While some people are able to easily embrace it, this word often sends chills of terror through many others. The reality is that life includes transitions of all kinds, and change is just something we need to learn to adapt to. At Lansing Counseling, we offer counseling services for those struggling with all types of life transitions. Whether you are having a hard time transitioning to life after moving to college (to attend MSU, perhaps), or transitioning out of a relationship, or grieving the loss of something or someone in your life, life transitions can be hard. Our licensed professionals can help guide you through whatever transitions you might be going through so that you can deal with them in a healthy manner.

This article will discuss some common life transitions, a psychological disorder called Adjustment Disorder, and will help you understand how your counselor at Lansing Counseling can help you with your life transitions and adjustments.


How a Counselor at Lansing Counseling can help with your Life Transitions


Seeing a life transition counselor in East Lansing, MI can be a great first step in coping with life transitions and adjustments. Having a trained mental health professional to talk to can help you work through associated emotions, make good choices, and help you learn important coping skills. Your counselor at Lansing Counseling will provide you with empathy, understanding, care, and skills as they help you navigate the changes that you are going through in your life. Your counselor can also help you determine whether you are experiencing symptoms related to an isolated life event, or whether you may be dealing with another psychological disorder such as anxietydepression, or trauma. Your counselor will use evidence-based therapies to help you understand yourself better, learn to cope better, and help you to move toward healing.


Adjusting to Change


Life transitions, even those that seem positive such as going to college, getting married, starting a new job, having a child, etc. can still cause stress. It is natural for changes of all kinds to cause anxiety. Other changes can be unpredictable and cause negative feelings. Those who find themselves experiencing difficulty coping with life transitions may find it helpful to speak to a therapist in order to become better able to adjust to changes they cannot control.


Coping with Change


Along with the stress and anxiety that often accompany change, many might have other symptoms such as insomnia, eating issues, headaches, or they may even turn to substance abuse to try to cope. Fortunately, there are healthy ways to cope with change:

  • Researching an upcoming change (if you are aware one is coming). Often, stress can develop out of fear of what is unknown. When one is well-informed about a change, it may be easier to face. Therefore, being sure to research an upcoming change can prepare you in advance so you can avoid some of the stress after the change happens.
  • Making sure to care for your physical and mental health. Being healthy in mind and body may make it easier to cope with changes in life. Sleeping well, exercising, and eating nutritional foods regularly may all be beneficial in improving both physical and mental health, thus helping to deal with change.
  • Taking time to relax. Remaining calm in spite of stress may be easier when your life is well-adjusted and includes time for leisure as well as work.
  • Limiting change. While sometimes we cannot control when changes happen, other times we can control when we make transitions in life. It may be helpful to avoid making the choice to make a large change immediately after another change. Generally, adjusting to a change takes some time, and making multiple changes at once, even smaller ones, may not allow enough time for an adequate adjustment period, which can cause stress.
  • Discussing any difficulties adapting with another person. Family members may be able to help one adjust to change, but professional help may also benefit those experiencing difficulty or stress as a result of life changes.

Adjustment Disorders


For some people, life transitions or change in any way can cause an amount of stress and anxiety that is beyond and more intense than what would be considered normal; their reactions are often extreme and debilitating. This is known as Adjustment Disorder. Some signs and symptoms of this disorder include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless or not enjoying things you used to enjoy
  • Frequent crying
  • Worrying or feeling anxious, nervous, jittery or stressed out
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Difficulty functioning in daily activities
  • Withdrawing from social supports
  • Avoiding important things such as going to work or paying bills
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Symptoms of an adjustment disorder usually start within three months of a life change that causes stress, and tend to last not much longer than 6 months after the end of the stressful event. However, persistent or chronic adjustment disorders can continue for more than 6 months, especially if the stressor is ongoing, such as unemployment.


Causes and Risk Factors for Adjustment Disorder


Adjustment disorders are caused by significant changes or stressors in your life. Genetics, your life experiences, and your personal temperament may increase your likelihood of developing an adjustment disorder.
Some things may make you more likely to have an adjustment disorder:


Stressful Events


Stressful life events — both positive and negative — may put you at risk of developing an adjustment disorder. For example:

  • Divorce or marital problems
  • Relationship or interpersonal problems
  • Changes in situation, such as retirement, having a baby or going away to school
  • Adverse situations, such as losing a job, loss of a loved one or having financial issues
  • Problems in school or at work
  • Life-threatening experiences, such as physical assault, combat or natural disaster
  • Ongoing stressors, such as having a medical illness or living in a crime-ridden neighborhood

Your Life Experiences


Life experiences can impact how you cope with stress. For example, your risk of developing an adjustment disorder may be increased if you:

  • Experienced significant stress in childhood
  • Have other mental health problems
  • Have a number of difficult life circumstances happening at the same time

Types Of Adjustment Disorders


Adjustment disorders don’t always manifest in the same way, but vary for each individual and what transition they are struggling with. Some types of adjustment disorders include:

  • Adjustment disorder with depressed mood. Symptoms may include:

Depressed mood
Feelings of hopelessness

  • Adjustment disorder with anxiety. Symptoms may include:

Fear of separation from major attachment figures

  • Adjustment disorder with anxiety and depressed mood. A combination of symptoms from both of these conditions are present.
  • Adjustment disorder with negative behaviours. Symptoms may include:

Violation of the rights of others
Violation of society’s norms and rules (truancy, destruction of property, reckless driving or fighting)

  • Adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct. 

A combination of symptoms from all of the above subtypes is present (depressed mood, anxiety and behaviour).

  • Adjustment disorder unspecified.
    Reactions to stressful events that do not fit in one of the above subtypes are present. Reactions may include behaviors like social withdrawal or inhibitions to normally expected activities, like school or work.

When To Seek Treatment for Life Transitions and Adjustments

If you find that you are struggling with a life change to the point where it is causing extreme amounts of stress, anxiety, depression, or any of the above listed symptoms, and especially if you are struggling to the point of feeling suicidal, it is likely that you need to seek out help.

Since these struggles are so individualized, there are different types of treatments. Some of these include:

  • Individual psychotherapy using cognitive-behavioral approachesCognitive-behavioral approaches are used to improve age-appropriate problem-solving skills, communication skills, impulse control, anger management skills and stress management skills.
  • Family therapy. Family therapy is often focused on making needed changes within the family system, like improving communication skills and family interactions. An additional area of focus is to increase family support among family members.
  • Peer group therapy. Peer group therapy is often focused on developing and using social skills and interpersonal skills.
  • Medicine. While medicines have very limited value in the treatment of adjustment disorders, talking to your doctor can help determine if a medication might be helpful for your specific struggle, even for a limited amount of time.

Lansing Counseling Provides Counseling For Life Transitions and Adjustments


Whether you are struggling with a change in your life in some way, or maybe to a more extreme level and could be experiencing an adjustment disorder, Lansing Counseling can help. To schedule an appointment, fill out the contact sheet below, email us: [email protected] or give us a call at: (517) 333-1499. Lansing Counseling is located near the campus of Michigan State University, off of Grand River Ave across from Whole Foods. We are on the ground level of the Red Cedar Flats building, and are in Suite 101. Our life transition counselors and therapists look forward to helping you navigate your struggles with the difficult transitions in your life.


Lansing Counseling

5030 Northwind Dr Suite 101
East Lansing, MI 48823

Ready to talk to someone?