Women in Transition - Hilo, HI - Stephanie Dodge, PhDAre You Struggling to Adjust to Changes in Your Life? 

  • Have you experienced the end of a significant relationship or marriage?
  • Has your child grown up and left home?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed by pregnancy or a new baby?
  • Have you started to go through menopause?
  • Are you in the middle of a job transition, either due to retirement, losing a job or your desire to leave an unhealthy work environment?
  • Do you wish you could feel hopeful about the future and find meaning in the next stage of your life?

If you are experiencing transition in your life, you may feel as though your sense of security, stability, confidence and purpose is gone, or at least shaken. You might be caught up in the stress and chaos of a job transition or a break-up now, but you fear what your life will look like when the dust has cleared. Perhaps you are doubting your self-worth and feel as though you have failed in your relationship or job. If your children recently left home, you may be consumed by worry about their well-being. Or, if your children seem to be stable and happy in their adult lives, you may feel guilty about your desire to have them back with you. Maybe you have just given birth, and you wonder why you don’t feel as happy and fulfilled as everyone said you would.

Perhaps you don’t know what to do with your days. Or, maybe you wonder why you can’t seem to handle challenges and even daily tasks like you did before. You may feel as though you are going through the motions, without really engaging in any of your experiences. Maybe the whole world seems dull without your relationship, children or career. You might wonder why you spent so much of your life looking forward to retirement, independence or parenthood when now you feel so lost. Perhaps you can’t stop thinking about the way life was before this change. You may feel confused, overwhelmed and unsure of how to move forward in your life.

Everyone Experiences Life Transitions

If you are experiencing a significant change in your life, you are not alone. Everyone ­­– men and women – experiences periods of transition and adjustment. Life is unpredictable, and our careers, relationships and personal lives all shift and develop as we grow older. However, while all people experience change, women in transition often face great emotional strain. In our modern culture, women are conditioned to define themselves by their relationships with others. Break-ups, job transitions and child rearing all profoundly affect relationships. The shifts in social support and connection (along with the physical shifts that come with pregnancy, menopause and age) often lead women – especially those who identity as a “wife,” “mother” or “professional” – to question their most fundamental identities.

Women are also often made to feel as though they must balance many different identities at once – for example, “mother” and “professional.” We are not conditioned to focus on our own well-being, and we often feel guilty when we have time to ourselves. This can make retirement and the “empty nest” very uncomfortable for women. Similarly, women are typically expected to desire and enjoy motherhood. When a new mother feels sad or anxious, her distressing feelings are often compounded by guilt. Many mothers of grown children also struggle with guilt and self-blame.

Regardless of what you are going through, it is completely normal to need a little extra help during a significant period of change. Thankfully, with compassionate support, you can navigate this transition with increased grace and ease and embrace the next stage of your life.

Counseling for Women in Transition Can Help You Move Forward

If you are struggling to cope with a change in your life, therapy can offer you a safe, caring space to openly express your doubts and fears as well as exploring all of the possibilities for the next stage in your life. Transition can be uncomfortable, but it can also be a great opportunity. During sessions, I can provide support and guidance so that you can grieve the part of your life that you have left behind and begin to live authentically on the other side.

As a psychologist, I can help women in transition develop effective skills for coping with change and new challenges. In sessions, you can process the intense emotions that are often created during significant life event changes. If this period of instability has caused you to feel anxious or depressed, I can help you get to the root of your uncomfortable feelings and begin to feel better. For many women, life transitions bring up buried traumas, which may be making you feel even more on-edge and unsafe. If you have suddenly begun experiencing painful memories, I can help you heal from the trauma in your past.

Because women in transition often experience strain or separation in their relationships, we can also explore the issues you may be facing with your children, partner, ex-partner, coworkers or other people in your life. Counseling can help you develop ways to mend and repair the relationships that you hope to preserve in your life. If you are feeling sad and disconnected after the birth of a child, I can help you better understand symptoms of the “baby blues” and the more serious symptoms of Postpartum Depression. You can let go of guilt and begin to work through the complicated emotions that often follow pregnancy and birth.

I have been through several of my own life transitions, and I know that you can move through this period of confusion into a new, satisfying phase of your life. No matter how tumultuous and frightening things may seem right now, change can offer you the opportunity to create the life you want. As you process this difficult time, you can find happiness, fulfillment and incredible growth.

You may believe that counseling for women in transition can help you cope with change, but still have questions or concerns…

I don’t want to be diagnosed with something.

Many people struggle during periods of change. If you are experiencing the symptoms of anxiety or depression now, it does not mean that you have a chemical imbalance or a lasting mental health issue. You may just be struggling with an adjustment disorder. (a diagnosis that just means “going through a rough time in life.”) Similarly, it is very common to experience symptoms of PTSD when things in life are challenging, even if you have not thought about your trauma in decades. I can help you unpack what you are experiencing and begin to better understand your symptoms. Most likely, you are just going through a difficult time, and working with a therapist can help you cope with your current challenges. If you are struggling with something more serious, then it is even more important to seek help. The sooner you begin treatment, the more quickly you can begin to alleviate your pain and suffering.

I feel guilty taking time for myself.

If you are in between jobs, newly retired, an “empty nester” or on your own for the first time in years, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to take time for yourself. As they say on airplanes, you have to apply your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Taking the time to nurture your own well-being can help you feel better equipped to help those around you. Especially if you are a new mother, it is important to take time for self-care. You deserve support and comfort.

So many women are in transition and do just fine. Shouldn’t I just get over it myself?

If you are currently feeling enough pain and distress that you are searching the Internet for help, it may be time to seek support. Imagine that you have a cold. If it goes away in a week with rest and fluids, that’s wonderful. But, if it sticks around for a month, getting worse and worse until it makes it difficult for you to live your life, you wouldn’t hesitate to go to a doctor. There is no shame in seeking help when your distressing thoughts and emotions just won’t go away. You don’t have to live with this hurt and confusion by yourself.

If are ready to embrace the change in your life, I invite you to call (808) 747 3445 for a free 15-20-minute phone consultation. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about women in transition and my practice.