Life Transitions

life transitionsA detailed and very interesting research about the problems of classifying, analyzing and coping with life transitions in our life, was written by Lawrence Brammer, Ph.D., who is Professor Emeritus of Counselor Education at the University of Washington in Seattle. This work was published by the Educational Resource Information Center. In his research L. Brammer introduces the concept of life transitions and presents the most common types of such transitions. After that he addresses to three theoretical models of life transitions, which are supported by tips on counseling them. And in the end of the article the author presents some attitudes and skills necessary for successful coping with changes and life transitions.

The author defines transition as a sudden and fundamental life change, which brings certain disconnection with the past. He classifies the transitions as positive and negative (painful and tragic) in respect to human reaction, as voluntary and involuntary by human factor of the cause, and as on-time and off-time transitions by expectations. Also, he defines developmental, social and political changes among the transitions. According to this research, there are three ways of human perception of life transitions. These approaches are based on the developments of other specialists in this field. The first approach was suggested by Bridges (1980), who offered using metaphors from classic literature when describing life transitions.  Counseling approach in such case can be focused on encouraging people to look for some meaningful metaphors when managing with their life transitions.

The second concept is called Social Interaction Model, which was created by Schlossberg (1984). This specialist offers to consider social and personal characteristics of an individual when coping with life transitions, like age, maturity, sensibility to stresses, etc. According to this model, the counseling approach will concentrate on analyzing the impact of transition on the person and looking for the inner and outer resources, which would help the person to cope with the situation.

The third model is called Predictable Overlapping Stages, which was created by the author himself, using the works of Kubler-Ross, Parkes and Hopson. This model presents the development of human perception of hard life transitions, like sudden death of a close person, etc. The author states that there are some stages, which any person experiences when coping with a hard life transition. Firstly, there are initial feelings of confusion, discomfort and shock, followed by the stages of denial and fantasy, then very long process of mood stabilization comes, which is accompanied with depressions, mood disorders, and then one or another level or recovery comes. Counseling in this case is also focused on determination, on which stage the person is now.

In the end of the research there are some concepts about coping attitude and skills, which are mostly based on the developments in psychological literature. The author states that coping with life transitions is self-initiated problem solving, which requires development of proper and satisfactory coping resource. Also, the author offers some directions, which can be effective for creating the concept of recovery when coping with life transitions. Those are: creating support networks, cognitive reframing, analyzing personal stress responses, etc. This research is very interesting; it reveals some theoretical information about view on life transitions and the ways of coping with them. The author suggests studying the problem more thoroughly, and in the conclusion he directs the readers into the most important field of studying life transitions: learning more about particular human personalities, about ourselves and our surrounding.

Maybe the only disadvantage of this research is the absence of more practical information on coping with life transitions. Other numerous researches introduce mental (acknowledging the problem, looking for some positive sides, fighting with anxiety and depressions, etc.) and physical (doing exercises, interacting with other people, paying attention on nutrition, etc) tips, which can be very helpful in our daily activity when managing with transitions. Besides, the majority of life transitions are connected with stresses, so coping with life transitions frequently becomes coping with stress. It is also important point, which had to receive more attention from the author of this research. But in any way, the work of Laurence Brammer is very useful, especially for students and specialists, who are interested in studying the perception of life transitions and stresses by human psychology.

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