Life can be challenging at times. Take a moment to think of the challenges you've faced; and remember a challenge isn't necessarily negative. For example, suddenly losing your job is a life challenge but so is getting that dream job that requires you to move across the country to a new city. How we cope with life's challenges is differently affected by how we take care of our general mental health. Thinking about your own life challenges for a moment more, did you find you had strategies in place that helped you through? In therapy terms, we would call those coping strategies.
A tool that is very helpful during life's challenging time is emotional support. Many of us are fortunate enough to get that from friends and family, but therapy is also a source of emotional support. In fact, therapy is different from the support you would get from others in your life, because a therapist only knows you in the context of you being a client. It's a therapist's job to be impartial, with no bias of wanting a client to do a certain action. Perhaps you tell a friend about your decision to leave your partner, but the friend, who only wants the best for you, convinces you to stay. Now imagine talking it through in therapy. A therapist would allow you to come to a decision yourself, weighing the pros and cons and talking through next steps and coping strategies so you felt as prepared as possible regardless of what you decide.
From a clinical perspective, life challenges can be diagnosed to signify why a person is seeking therapy, but are more descriptions of the situation a person is encountering. Going back to the two examples earlier in this article, problems related to employment and problems in a relationship would be the focus of therapy respectively. Therapy might focus on processing the life challenge and supporting the person through the transition with coping strategies and self care. Therapy modalities like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be helpful in building coping strategies and focusing on cognitive tools someone can implement.
If you find yourself facing a life challenge now or in the future, therapy can be a supportive addition to your coping strategies. In my private practice, I work to create a non-judgemental, empathic space where people can share about feelings and build coping strategies to not only get through the life challenge they are experiencing now, but build resilience for future challenges as well.
American Psychological Association