Job Loss: How to Cope

Although grieving is most often affiliated with the death of a loved one, it can actually often come about due to a variety of other types of losses as well. One such instance is the suffering of a job loss.

The loss of employment – and thus income and a sense of responsibility – can have a huge impact both financially and emotionally. The new situation brings about numerous challenges and it can also bring to the forefront a myriad of emotions such as frustration, anger, and even guilt.

Many times, when an individual has lost their job, they also lose a part of their identity.

Today, our culture places a great deal of emphasis on careers, and this has oftentimes led to people feeling like “they are what they do.”

Facing the loss of this “identity” can affect the individual on a personal level, and it may also have an effect on their relationships with others as well. Sometimes, when people are feeling scared and vulnerable following a job loss, they may even begin to lash out, defending themselves from whatever additional potential hurt may come their way.

Yet, although these are common reactions to loss, if they are not dealt with, understood, and quickly changed, then the issues could actually turn into an even more serious situation. Left untreated, this may lead to the damaging of relationships, depression, and possible even physical harm.

Finding Needed Help

When an individual or couple is facing the financial and emotional issues of a job loss, there are a number of ways to find help. The first place to look for the needed assistance is to a qualified therapist.

Today, due to the massive amount of layoffs that have occurred as a result of the economic downturn, therapists are worker harder than ever to reach out to those who need their help and to counsel those individuals and families who need assistance in finding a new self-worth – and essentially a new beginning.

How A Therapist Can Help

Working with a qualified therapist can help in a number of different ways. While it may not lead to bringing the individual’s old job back, therapy can help in getting the individual and their loved ones back on track emotionally – and thus helping to take on the new challenges that are ahead.

Just some of the benefits of working with a therapist can include:

  • Stopping the Feelings of Panic. While it is easy to panic at the thought of income loss – especially if a job loss has just recently occurred – a therapist can help the individual to realize that panic is only counterproductive. Attending therapy sessions can actually result in a feeling of confidence and forward momentum – which is the only true way to obtain new employment and a more positive future.
  • Allowing the Individual to Grieve. Just like losing a loved one, the loss of a job can bring about a sense of grief. In addition to the loss of income, fellow employees may have become like a second family, and therefore losing these individuals can also be traumatic. A therapist will help in moving the affected individual through the various stages of grief such as denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, until eventually getting to acceptance.
  • Accepting the Present Situation. Once the individual has made it through the stages of grief, a good therapist will help them in moving forward with the acceptance process as well. Here is where things will truly begin to look brighter ahead.
  • Getting Back Into the Game. With this new-found confidence and optimism, the individual will be able to see their past as it was, but also their future as they want it to be.

While the individual is moving through these job loss stages, it is also important that their spouse and children (if applicable) be a part of this process. As these individuals will also be affected, they will become a part of the “team” in terms of getting the entire family back on track.

[box type=”note”]This could entail cutting back on expenses and offering emotional support prior to obtaining new employment. If children are involved, they may need to pick up the slack in terms of offering assistance with house work or yard work in order to ease the stress of the job seeker. In any case, a therapist will also be able to work with the entire family in assigning roles and responsibilities that will best help all in getting through this difficult situation.[/box]

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith works with many different types of patients. On of her primary areas of interest is marriage counseling in Thousand Oaks, CA.

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