Work and Career Issues
Q. How can a therapist help with work and career issues?
A. Whether they’re just starting out, looking to return to work after taking time off or looking to switch careers in mid-life, I’ve noticed that the people I work with find it helpful to talk through how they can match their skills with their interests.
Many people are challenged by trying to decide what they want to do for a lifetime. Therapy helps people listen to their own voice about what would truly make them happy. A questionnaire that helps patients identify areas of interest can be useful as starting point. Through therapy, patients open up to the notion that they may be able to do more than one thing in their lifetime. This can open their mind to possibilities they hadn’t considered.
Sometimes people need to understand the difference between a ‘job’ versus a ‘hobby.’ People may feel pulled between two different interests, feeling that all of their skills and passions need to be directed toward a career. I help people set realistic expectations about what constitutes a career while keeping the door open to pursuing other interests, perhaps as a hobby or side job until it leads to something more financially sustainable.
For example, if someone wants to become a rock star, I help them find a way to earn a living while also pursuing their passion. I listen to patients and help them see other options that they hadn’t considered.
Sometimes people have invested a great deal of time and money into their education, only to find they don’t like the profession for which they’ve been trained. I help patients identify their transferable skills and explore other occupations that may be more fulfilling, interesting and rewarding. Sometimes people who have been following one path for several years benefit from an outside person pointing out other avenues.
Just because someone has worked for two decades in one profession doesn’t mean they have to stick with that line of work until they retire. Therapy can open a door and give people a chance to listen to the inner voice they’ve been ignoring. It can guide them toward taking steps to make changes away from a career that they don’t want to be in.
Whether they’re right out of college or facing a mid-life transition, some patients are paralyzed by indecision so they do nothing. They feel bad about themselves and unfulfilled. Counseling helps people move toward hard conversations with themselves. In therapy, we go from a blob of clay to a sculpted object. I guide people to mold the clay of their future based on what they discover about themselves by talking it through.