Special Section: Counselling and Health Concerns

International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 239-253

First online:

Coping with life transitions

  • Lawrence M. BrammerAffiliated withUniversity of Washington College of Education

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Life transitions are sharp discontinuities with the previous life events. They have identifiable beginnings, turning points, and endings. Coping skills learned earlier are mobilized during the transition to help the person manage the transition process. A process conception of transitions includes a series of stages from entry through final resolution and growth. The primary dynamic is the process of letting go of the old value, relationship, or belief to taking hold of a new one. Coping skills consisting of support networking, cognitive restructuring, problem solving, and stress management are key mediating variables that determine the course and emotional intensity of the transition. Attitudes that influence the process are extent of perceived control of the event, perceptions of challenge, and commitment to change. perceiving the change event as a normal part of living helps to alleviate much of the distress of the transition. Transition theory offers a kind of map that helps counsellors and their clients to conceptualize what is happening to them during intensive life changes.