How Psychotherapy Can Help with Career Change
The need to change careers during one’s working life is becoming more common than it was just one or two decades ago. The marketplace is less stable; changes in outsourcing jobs to second and third-world countries affect job stability; and after the economic trials of the 2008 recession, companies downsized and do not add employees as easily as they used to. New industries also require skills that middle-aged or older workers often need to learn.
Psychotherapy is not career counseling or coaching. But it can help with the feelings associated with the need to change jobs and the behavior patterns that may be counterproductive to an effective career search. Common feelings associated with losing a job are mourning the loss of a work community, loss of one’s identity as an effective provider for oneself and family, and loss of self-esteem that often accompanies having a job one loves. Very close to mourning is a sense of shame that a company let you go, that you have somehow failed.
Shame is one of the most difficult of feelings to face. People do many things to avoid feeling shame—anger is a good substitute, easier to feel than shame any day. Common counterproductive behaviors are repeating unsuccessful job-hunting techniques such as responding day after day to internet openings, hiding away and avoiding interactions with people, the list is endless because everyone is different and responds in different ways. This is where psychotherapy can help you in ways a career coach cannot. In psychotherapy as the therapist gets to know you and relates to you, feelings and behaviors that may not have been available to your conscious mind often become clearer. This new understanding of yourself can enable you to recognize counterproductive behaviors or initiatives that may have been anxiety producing or simply out of your awareness.
Because I have had experience in career changing throughout my working life, in addition to education in organizational systems, I may even have ideas that could be useful, but my experience and personality are unique, as is each patient’s. I would not hide anything my experience shows could be helpful, but the best resource for new angles and efforts come from each patient as he or she comes to understand the many feelings that are welling up and perhaps getting in the way as the job search marches on.