Introducing Life-span Therapy

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Dec 1, 2022 | 0 comments

Mental health is a foundational part of overall health. And yet, mental health is often the least prioritized aspect of well being. Even when we utilize mental health care, we do it in times of crisis and disruption and usually return to habits that jeopardize our emotional and psychological health. As a mental health professional, I introduce Life-Span Therapy to all of my clients.

Life-Span Therapy focuses on establishing an ongoing relationship with mental health professionals that helps us traverse the many seasons of life. Humans go through multiple identity transitions throughout our life spans. We occupy many different roles at the same time and these roles get redefined over and over. The internal and relational shifts required to go from single to married, non-parent to parent, parent to empty-nester, stay at home parent to a working parent, or married to single, student to worker to boss to retiree, are all seismic. These identity shifts, while natural and expected, are often traumatic. It only makes sense that we should have help as we learn new ways to relate to ourselves and to each other.

I want all of my clients to walk away having cultivated a life-long commitment to therapy. I hope that through their work with me they have learned how to use psychotherapy as a permanent fixture in their toolbox for dealing with life. Good therapy is about more than just coping with an immediate stressor. Even in the midst of a crisis, good therapy should lead to lasting growth. This doesn’t mean we never struggle again, it simply means that with each struggle we engage in therapy that helps us make cumulative gains.

My time with clients is usually limited and while we often work on current issues such as relationship struggles, struggles with identity, emotional battles and questions of self worth, one of my major goals is always to help normalize the use of therapy itself. My fantasy is to have a society where it is absolutely normal to have someone who started accessing mental health care while they were a teenager, perhaps dealing with social and academic transitions. After having managed those turbulent years with the help of their family, friends and therapist, that client may once again need to seek out therapy as they get ready to graduate from college or maybe during the first year out as they learn how to relate to themselves and to the world as an “adult.” The next major transition may arrive with impending marriage and that is where premarital counseling would be used to help the couple prepare for the marriage beyond the wedding. As the newlyweds settle into married life, one year in, they may go back to their premarital counselor to reckon with the lessons of the first year and to discuss some concrete steps to safeguard their marriage. Fast forward to a baby and once again, the clients would benefit from seeing a therapist to help them support one another through the newness of parenting, their changing marriage and the all important postpartum period. And on and on as they go from one transformation to another and try to do it together. What I would love for my clients to internalize is that therapy isn’t just for when life is falling apart. In fact, the best and most effective use of therapy is to use it before things fall apart, to help prevent the crisis. Psychotherapy across the life-span that helps us to prepare for, journey through, and learn from all the transitions we go through as humans is the conversation I most want to start with my clients and the world at large.


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