Is it good to be self-actualized?

There are many “goals” for counseling or psychotherapy. I would like to talk about one of the common yet highly ambiguous goal called self-actualization. Self-actualization has a very rosy connotation but on the contrary, I learned many downsides of this phenomenon during my training. According to Abraham Maslow (1962a), self- actualization involves getting out of enculturation which often is a comfort zone for many people. For Carl Jung (2017), individuation (other way to call self-actualization) includes inevitable process to confront one’s “shadow” for the “Self” become more whole.

When a person becomes more unique, open, independent, and secure, it naturally perturbs the established equilibrium in certain interpersonal or group dynamics. Some people might welcome it while others might not. Some could be refraining from individuation because her/his shadow or unconscious domain is overwhelmingly uncanny, and the stability of consciousness or ego could be greatly threatened in the process of such integration.

Therefore, the price to pay for one’s self-actualization can be quite substantial. If that is the case, why do we still strive for it? What is the driving force behind one’s motivation to self-actualize?

According to classic literature, one answer is because of “peak-experience”. Peak-experience is defined as “mystic experiences, moments of great awe, moments of the most intense happiness or even rapture, ecstasy or bliss (because the word happiness can be too weak to describe this experience)” (Maslow, 1962b, p. 9). According to many accounts of the informants, this rare experience made them perceive the world in a whole new way (Wuthnow, 1978). As the name implies, it is really the “peak” of one’s life and the experience is ultimately rewarding. Maslow observed that self-actualized individuals seem to have more peak-experience compared to the others. Although it is highly abstract and theoretical, below are how Maslow (Maslow, 1962a) attempted to describe the essence of peak-experience.

  1. Object is seen as a whole and is seen detached from the usefulness of the subject
  2. Full attention and complete absorption to the object
  3. The object is seen as it is in its pure form
  4. Richer perception
  5. Ego-transcending, self-forgetful
  6. Feeling that life is worthwhile
  7. Disorientation in time and space
  8. Subject perceives peak-experience as an absolute good
  9. Sense of absolute rather than relative
  10. Passive and receptive experience
  11. Sense of wonder, awe, humility before the experience
  12. One object seems to represent whole world
  13. Co-existence of abstract and concrete
  14. Fusion of dichotomies
  15. Love and acceptance of the world and of the person
  16. Perceiving uniqueness in everything
  17. Loss of fear, anxiety, inhibition, defense, and control

    Once a person goes through peak-experience, the painful journey of self-actualization is unconditionally rewarded. I speculate that this could be one of the reasons why our psyche is always aspiring to grow.

References

Jung, C. G. (2017). Mandala symbolism:(From Vol. 9i collected works) (Vol. 42).
Princeton University Press.
Maslow, A. H. (1962a). Toward a psychology of being (750459). Van Nostrand.
Maslow, A. H. (1962b). Lessons from the Peak-Experiences. Journal of Humanistic
Psychology, 2(1), 9–18. https://doi.org/10.1177/002216786200200102
Wuthnow, R. (1978). Peak Experiences: Some Empirical Tests. Journal of Humanistic
Psychology, 18(3), 59–75.

Written by:
Takashi Obana, PhD
Clinical Psychologist
SACAC Counselling

Critical periods for an intimate relationship in relation to family systems changing

There are at least three phases that are seen as critical periods for an intimate relationship:

  • Having young children between the ages of 0-6 years old.
  • Having children in puberty.
  • Having children leaving the house.

Having said this, other life events or changes, of course will also be challenging times and critical phases for intimate relationships. However in this blog I will partly be focusing on the above phases. 

These phases are seen as years that are more challenging for a relationship, because there are changes on every fundamental theme in your life. 

Everyone and everything in the family system is changing:

  • Roles become different for yourself, your partner, the other family members (grandparents etc).
  • New balances in tasks
  • New work-life balances
  • Development of children 
  • Dynamics changing
  • Body transformations
  • Intimacy changes

What do we need in order to maintain a healthy relationship and rediscover each other in this vulnerable phase of life?

First of all; Reflect on yourself: intentionally making time to think about who you are, who you have become, what has contributed to that development, what you like about yourself, what you would like to develop more or less of, what triggers me, what past experiences can it be linked to in my youth. See the following quote: 

My primary relationship is with myself; all others are mirrors of it. As I learn to love myself, I automatically receive the love and appreciation that I desire from others. If I am committed to myself and to living my truth, I will attract others with equal commitment. My willingness to be intimate with my own deep feelings creates the space for intimacy with another. As I learn to love myself, I receive the love I desire from others. — Shakti Gawain

Second; communicate about each other’s underlying feelings and needs in a safe and respectful manner. This requires work around emotion awareness and regulation (being aware and in touch with your own underlying emotions and able to regulate your emotion). Realizing this is not about right or wrong/ partners fault or my fault. But this is about understanding and listening to each other’s needs and finding ways to meet each other’s needs. We can’t always know each other’s needs if the other person doesn’t communicate. Realizing that we will try to develop and meet each other’s needs, but also being realistic and understanding that 1 individual can’t always 100% fulfill some needs. Realizing that every relationship needs work to stay connected (reflections, small gestures, making time, effort, communication about emotions and needs). 

My colleague wrote a interesting blog related to communication in relationships “Communication builds intimacy in your relationship” – Joyce Ng (see our website: https://www.sacac.sg/blog.html

Written By:
Flo Westendorp
Clinical Psychologist
SACAC Counselling

Communication builds intimacy in your relationship

Psychologist Dr. John Gottman said, “Relationships live and die not by the sword, but by the amount of discussion.” What Gottman meant is that the survival of our relationship depends on how well we communicate with each other. Married couples must find a way to communicate regularly, openly, and directly. Someone said that the minute we stop communicating, it is the death of the marriage. The failure to communicate with one another is the number one cause of marital conflict and divorce. However, many couples have shared with me that they have very few things to talk about after years of marriage with their spouses. In my opinion, one of the reasons couples talk less with each other is because one spouse feels the other spouse is not listening to them. They feel their spouse is either reactive or defensive especially when they do not share the same opinion or agree with them.

Research studies have shown that defensive listeners will be less likely to listen and hear well what another person is saying. Thus, the failure to understand what the other person is saying. In some cases, instead of listening, the person is thinking about why the person is responding in this way and at the same time is preparing a response to what the other person is saying. This is “The Fight or Flight” response. In this case, it is a “fight” response as one wants to win the argument.

Author Dave Maurer has said, “A great marriage is not when the perfect couple comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences, through kind and patient communication with each other.” Therefore, if two people learn to focus on what each other is saying in order to understand, clarify, and respond accordingly, the marriage will grow stronger and deeper. Non-threatening communication reduces the likelihood of distorted perceptions on the part of the listener. Hence, it will help strengthen their mutual love and trust. Therefore, I would like to suggest a few guidelines to help us improve our communication with our partner:

1.    Give each other a chance to speak – each partner is given a designated amount of time to express his or her thoughts and feelings. 

2.    Do not be tempted to give unsolicited advice; do not try to problem-solve or accommodate your spouse’s emotions for understanding must precede giving any advice or solution.

3.    Show genuine concern or interest, maintain eye contact, do not allow your mind or eyes to wonder.

4.    Stand on your spouse’s side, and be supportive even if you think that his or her perspective is unreasonable. Do not try to win every conversation.

5.    Cultivate a “we” concept. Let your spouse know that the two of you are in this together. We are a team and issues that we have should not come between us. 

6.    Show affection; intentionally create opportunities for a fun date, and spend quality time chatting with one another.

Research also shows that emotional connection will enhance physical intimacy and having great sex. If you feel emotionally rejected by your partner, chances are that you would not be in the mood to have sex with him or her. Try these guidelines in communicating with your spouse and see how they can affect the level of emotional attraction and trust you can build with each other. 

If you are struggling in communicating with your spouse or partner or having marital issues in your relationship that require more support. At SACAC Counselling, we have a group of professional therapists that can help you to resolve your conflicts, and learn better communication skills, and strategies to build a good relationship with each other in your marriage. Please do not hesitate to call for an appointment.   

Written By:
Joyce Ng
Clinical Psychologist
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
SACAC Counselling

What makes psychotherapy work?

With over 500 variations of psychotherapies, it can be a daunting task to find one that suits a client. Dr Steven Hayes has pointed out that list of evidence-based psychotherapy, maintained by scientific bodies and government agencies, do not require any knowledge of the processes of change, hence methods proliferated.

With his colleagues, Stefan Hofmann at Boston University / Philipps-University, Marburg, Germany; Joe Ciarrochi at Australian Catholic University; and our associates Baljinder Sahdra and Fred Chin, he set out to conduct a mediational study to identify the important pathways of change. 

Due to the size of all studies, 54,633 in total, they dubbed the project the “Deathstar”. This is in reference to the moon-sized space station with planetary destruction capabilities in Starwars movies. It took the team over 4 years to complete.

A few results I would like to highlight here. The result indicates that 55% of change is due to the skillset of psychological flexibility and mindfulness. And not the factors that people suspected such as self-esteem, or friends and family.

Psychological flexibility consists of 3 parts, awareness, openness and value-based engagement.

Awareness is the first pillar. It is our ability to notice what thoughts and feelings show up; What sensations we experience at each given moment. 

Openness is about being present with whatever we experience in a given moment; making room for it. This allows us to immerse ourselves in experience, without needing to avoid it or to engage with it. Instead, we learn to be with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, letting go of the internal resistance to what is painful or what we would like to control. Voluntarily opening up to what we do not like has an indirect result of uncomfortable thoughts and feelings showing less frequently and with diminished intensity.  As a result, we are more likely to be able to move in a more meaningful direction in life.

The third pillar of psychological flexibility is value-based engagement. It is about freely choosing what matters to you and aligning your choices and behaviours to your values. A value is a quality of ongoing action. This means that you become patient by doing acts of patience. Values are not a goal as they cannot be achieved. Instead, they are a direction to point you in the direction of what is meaningful to you. By aligning your behaviour to them, your life will become more meaningful.

Awareness and openness together form an approach to mindfulness and together with value-based engagement, you can develop the skillset of psychological flexibility. And with it have the single most important skill for mental and emotional well-being.

References 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/get-out-your-mind/202208/the-most-important-skill-set-in-mental-health

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Steven C. Hayes, Kirk D. Strohsahl, Kelly G. Wilson, 2016, 2nd edition

Written by:
Allard Mueller
Counsellor and Psychotherapist
SACAC Counselling

Cognition and learning assessments

Cognition and learning assessments identify an individual’s strengths and difficulties in relation to their learning. Cognitive abilities are likely to remain stable throughout an individual’s life, and these assessments provide a comprehensive idea of how an individual learns and their learning abilities.

Who is suitable for a cognition learning assessment?
Individuals between the ages of 4-25 commonly seek a cognition and learning assessment, however it would also be appropriate for children under 4 in certain circumstances.

Individuals who experience any of the following may benefit from an assessment:

  • Difficulties with verbal communication and language
  • Academic difficulties such as reading and /or writing
  • Difficulties with memory
  • Difficulties with processing visual information
  • Lack of attention and /or concentration
  • Exceeding expected academic progress
  • Not making expected academic progress
  • Requiring support with their organisation skills
  • Struggle with classroom demands
  • Struggles with following instructions
  • Suspected learning difficulty

    What are the benefits of a cognition and learning assessment?
    A cognition and learning assessment will identify areas of strengths and difficulties. This will be able to guide personalised learning, and ensures individuals are progressing academically by being challenged at the right level.

    Following a cognitive assessment, a report will be provided which will include recommendations for supporting the individual’s learning environment to ensure the individual is reaching their full potential. Further assessments or an intervention may also be recommended.

    What does a cognition and learning assessment involve?
    There are variations in the type of cognitive assessments used, but they all measure cognitive and learning abilities through various tasks, including puzzles, activities, and questions. The assessments can usually take up to 4 hours to complete. This is often split into two sessions, and the individual can take breaks as and when needed. The assessment will take place in a calm environment, and with minimal distractions to ensure a comprehensive assessment.

    Written by:
    Mitra Ben-Lamri
    Counsellor
    SACAC Counselling

Can silence be therapeutic?

There is good reason to expect loud noise to be harmful. Sounds get our attention because they tell us what is happening nearby and warn us of impending danger. Sounds raise our blood pressure and muscle tension, hormones are produced to raise stress and enable us to take action if needed, to fight or flee. But if we are subject to noise again and again, stress begins to damage our health, causing anxiety and depression.

Regular noise above 50 dB can cause health problems, including sleep disturbance. The World Health Organization recognized such noise as a threat to health in 2018. Several cities have taken steps to reduce the noise that citizens are typically exposed to (eg quieter buses, less aircraft noise at night, barriers around big roads). In Singapore about 70,000 complaints about noise are made to government agencies annually (Straits Times, 25.10.22). There is a case for taxing excessive noise making in the densely populated city.

What can we do individually? There is now good evidence that spending time in a sensory deprivation float tank can be beneficial. It seems, however, that it is essential that this is something you actively want, otherwise the isolation can itself be stressful. But such extreme steps may not be the only method: seeking out quiet in a natural setting, perhaps alongside guided relaxation, may be equally or more helpful.

Does everyone benefit equally from such quiet? Eric Pfeiffer, a researcher in Freiburg, Germany, found that most people do benefit from quiet; comparisons between different types of quiet suggested that periods of silence in natural setting such as a park, combined with music or mediation led by a therapist, was for most people the most beneficial. But some people, perhaps because they were already over-stressed, were unable to benefit from such silence. Further work on managing the stress may be needed before quiet can be helpful to those people. Pfeiffer does not argue for prolonged silence for everyone: even 10 minutes per day may be beneficial to most people.

[See “Shhhhh…” by Kayt Sukel, New Scientist, 13.08.2022]

Written by:
Dr. Tim Bunn
Consultant Educational Psychologist

Burnout

Burnout is a state of mental exhaustion, typically the result of repeated stress or external pressure. A state of burnout can occur as a consequence of a stressful environment. Burnout is characterized by three main symptoms; severe exhaustion, excessive cynicism or negativity, and a sense of inadequacy.

Despite this, burnout is not a diagnosable disorder in a traditional sense. Rather it is more akin to a psychological state of mind. However, that does not mean its significance should be downplayed. Burnout does not necessarily occur only in terms of a job environment. But research suggests that it is mostly prevalent in people oriented occupations. 

So this begs the question of how can burnout be prevented? One of simplest ways is establishing clear boundaries with your occupation. Meaning that important is your work may be to you, it is important to not let its importance consume you. This can be achieved through the proper maintenance of a good work-life balance.

Potential signs of a poor work-life balance include: 

  • Not having any control or say in your workload, schedule or amount of assignments 
  • Not knowing what is expected of you / being unable to meet those expectations 
  • Bullying or harassment at the workplace 
  • Near constant feelings of monotony or chaos 
  • Not having support from mentors or colleagues 

The abovementioned factors could all be potential signs of a poor working environment that could be causing feelings of burnout. If you feel that your workplace is causing you these feelings then it might be an appropriate time to attempt to address those problems head on. This can be done through open communication with your colleagues or superiors about these issues.

Furthermore, the environment is not the only factor that contributes to feelings of burnout. An individual’s personality traits or lifestyle can also have an effect. For instance some common personality traits that can intensify feelings of burnout include: 

  • Taking on excessive or unmanageable responsibilities 
  • A lack of close relationships 
  • Not making significant time for the purpose of relaxation or spending time with friends and family 
  • Excessive pessimism 
  • Perfectionism 
  • A need for absolute 

These characteristics if not kept in check can lead to burnout. Additionally, an individual’s attitude towards themselves, particularly during their downtime. For instance taking on excessive responsibilities during their off work hours, which can lead to mental exhaustion that can foster a sense of burnout during work. 
It’s also important to acknowledge that the stress or anxiety an individual may feel is not always necessarily a sign of burnout. In addition, the abovementioned factors may also be not always be a guaranteed sign of burnout.

Burnout is mainly characterized by exhaustion and negative feelings towards work and other areas of life, but there are other less-known symptoms to watch out for.

There are both somatic and emotional symptoms associated with this syndrome, including:

  • Sleep problems or insomnia
  • Unexplained regular headaches, stomach pains
  • High blood pressure
  • Concentration problems
  • Loss of interest in liked activities
  • Feeling worthless
  • Food, alcohol, or substance abuse
  • Weakened immune system
  • Crippling sadness, anger, or irritability

    You should consult your physician if you notice these symptoms so that they may be relieved and your burnout can be treated as soon as possible. 

Therefore, the key to alleviating a sense of burnout is, setting adequate boundaries between individual time and time for working. Ensuring that this boundary is respected. In addition to dealing with any outstanding issues that may cause stress or discomfort in the environment.
Finally, the most important step in managing burnout is self-reflection. It’s important to reflect on one’s position and actions to determine if something in your environment may be causing you unneeded stress that can potentially lead to burnout.

References

Maslach C, Leiter MP. Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry. World Psychiatry. 2016;15(2):103–111. doi:10.1002/wps.20311

Yale Medicine. Chronic stress.

Brandstätter V, Job V, Schulze B. Motivational incongruence and well-being at the workplace: person-job fit, job burnout, and physical symptoms. Front Psychol. 2016;7:1153. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01153

Pereira H, Feher G, Tibold A, Monteiro S, Esgalhado G. Mediating effect of burnout on the association between work-related quality of life and mental health symptomsBrain Sci. 2021;11(6):813. doi:10.3390/brainsci11060813

Bianchi R, Schonfeld IS, Laurent E. Burnout-depression overlap: a reviewClin Psychol Rev. 2015;36:28-41. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2015.01.004

Kane L. Medscape National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report 2019. Wigert B, Agrawal S. Employee burnout, Part 1: The 5 main causes. Gallup.

Demerouti E. Strategies used by individuals to prevent burnoutEur J Clin Invest.2015;45(10):1106-12. doi:10.1111/eci.12494

Written by:
Leah Selakovic
Psychologist
SACAC Counselling

Pre-marital counselling

When it comes to engagement and wedding preparations, it is such a great joy and excitement for couples and their friends and family. The fantasy of getting dressed up, walking down the aisle with one’s life partner, exchanging vows and rings, committing to one another, and living happily ever after. The wedding looks so glamorous and perfect. But we all know that the wedding is the start of a life-long journey that has rainy days and stormy nights.

As the old saying goes, ” To fall in love is easy, staying in love is a challenge, and letting go (of self) is the hardest.” As we get married and live together, we find many surprises in the first 1-2 years of marriage. These “surprises” could be as simple as how to do the laundry, who does the laundry, and how often; how to manage finances; how to spend our nights and holidays together; or how to manage in-laws. Some of these surprises are difficult to imagine or identify before marrying each other. When couples are unequipped to identify the issues and look deeper to understand each other’s values, misunderstandings and resentment build up; gradually pulling individuals away from the relationship. Many researchers and marriage therapists point out that if couples are given the chance to understand each other’s expectations of marriage and learn to communicate effectively during the courtship, they are likely to have a stable and enjoyable marriage. 

Premarital counselling is structured counselling that can help couples prepare for marriage, address issues, understand similarities and differences, build communication skills, allow couples to discover new things about themselves and their relationships, and plan for their future. It usually takes place 6 months to a year before the engagement, and couples are required to meet with the therapist at least once a month for a 2-hour session. 

The therapist will facilitate couples to explore marriage-related themes such as finance, communications, marriage roles, values and beliefs, affections and sex, relationships with each other’s friends and families, making big decisions, children and parenting, family background, and personality. It is intended to help couples prepare and have a solid foundation for their relationship. It is not a test to assess whether couples fail or pass the courtship, and it is also not a measurement to indicate a breakup or getting married.

I am a therapist myself and recognized the huge benefits of premarital counselling in my own journey to marital life. It teaches us how cultural differences affect our relationship, how to manage our expectations of each other’s roles in marriage, how to understand each other’s stress profile, and how to express our feelings and emotional needs in a way that brings us closer together. If you have been in a stable relationship for more than a year, I highly recommend you start pre-marital counselling today!

References

Prepare & Enrich https://www.prepare-enrich.com/

Warren, N. C. (1998, April 1). Finding the Love Of Your Life (Second Edition). Focus on the Family.

The Gottman Institute https://www.gottman.com/blog/category/dating-premarital/

Written by:
Elizabeth Pan
Psychotherapist & Counsellor
SACAC Counselling

Mindful parenting

Raising a child is for many, one of the most responsible and intense tasks of our lives, but one we do with love, pride, and satisfaction. It might be one of ‘the most important’ jobs we will ever have and many aspire to be a good father or mother. At times it can be a difficult and tiring task, other times it will be highly rewarding and fulfilling. In the daily hustle of our lives, parenting can sometimes turn into ‘managing’ children and the family, instead of being with the children and the family in the moment. When this happens, parenting becomes one of the endless things on our to-do lists and we may lose the experience of being ‘in the here and now’ with our children and family. Parenting will then go into auto-pilot mode. 

With child-rearing, stress comes along with it, and not only for reasons that we want to do it so well. The transition in adulthood between taking care of our own lives, to having children and also taking care of their lives, comes with an immense change in how we divide our time, attention, energy, and resources. While taking care of our children and family we might forget to take care of ourselves and get exhausted. This may lead to symptoms like being overly tired, irritable or depressive moods, physical complaints, or even psychiatric problems that stand in the way of child-rearing. 

Psychiatric problems in children or parents pose a challenge or obstacle to parenting. A child that can’t be left alone with siblings because of aggressive behavior, can’t go to bed alone because of fears, shows defiant or stressed behavior when confronted with new situations, engages in risky behaviors, skips school, poses another stressor in parenting. Symptoms of psychopathology within the parent can also complicate parenting or be a source of parental stress. A parent with depressive symptoms might find it difficult to give their child positive attention. 

Another factor that can make parenting stressful is the fact that children are always developing, which means that they are constantly changing. In turn, this means that parents are continuously adjusting to their developing children. Relationship problems between parents and divorce are also sources of parental stress. Lastly, child rearing has become more stressful in our more individualistic western society where child rearing has become a task for one or two parents. While it has been in our evolutionary history to raise children in a community. Remember: ‘It takes a village’. 

So given all of this, how can parents become more ‘mindful’ parents and apply ‘mindful’ parenting? Mindful parenting is defined as: ‘The ongoing process of intentionally bringing moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness as best one can to the unfolding of one’s own lived experience, including parenting. Cultivating mindfulness in parenting starts with self-awareness. It grows to include:

  1. Recognizing and keeping in mind each child’s unique nature, temperament, and needs;
  2. Developing the capacity to listen with full attention when interacting with one’s children;
  3. Holding in awareness with kindness and sensitivity, to whatever degree possible, both one’s child and one’s own feelings, thoughts, intentions, expectations, and desires;
  4. Bringing greater compassion and non-judgmental acceptance to oneself and one’s children;
  5. Recognizing one’s own reactive impulses in relationship to one’s children and their behavior’ 

What it means to be a ‘Mindful Parent’, means parenting in our conscious attention rather than getting overwhelmed by your own emotions and reacting in a way that can be detrimental to the parent-child relationship. It means learning how to train our attention, be more in the here and now, and more often ‘being’ than ‘doing’. Training your conscious attention helps with stress management, within ourselves and within the parenting of our children, in the partner relationship, and in the family. We can then be more aware of both the joy and the difficulties that come with parenting. We become more empathetic towards ourselves and our children. When we parent with attention, we have less reactive/ automatic responses towards our children, partner, or family. Which helps us with attention, organizing, planning, and seeing things from different perspectives.  We become more aware of any negative responses that stem from difficult experiences in our own childhood. And we can choose to react in a more positive or effective way. Being a ‘mindful’ parent can help change and improve the quality of our relationship with our children. 

Written By:
Melissa Monteiro
Counsellor 
SACAC Counselling

The Pain (and relief) of grieving

Once more, while I am here trying to write a few words to you, I keep thinking about songs that I like and believe helps to discuss the topic. I guess I like making these connections (songs and human conditions), but that is not the focus now. Chris Martin, from Coldplay, asks in one of his most popular songs: “When you love someone but it goes to waste, could it be worst?”. 

Honestly, I can’t answer his question, as the worst for someone is a very subjective factor. But I have to agree with him that “tears come streaming down on your face when you lose something you cannot replace”. Not only do tears come to the individual’s life, but the whole world turns upside down. There is no hope, there is despair, physical pain, emptiness, a sense that life is not fair, fears, and all different feelings, thoughts, sensations, actions, and emotions that pop up in those who were left behind.

Grieving for someone or something usually takes 5 stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It can last up to one year and despite similarities, it is a very individual process.

Sometimes, when someone comes across all of these things that a loss evokes, they might believe that they are mentally sick, that they have depression. But they are “just” grieving and although this is not a disorder and does not always need intervention/ treatment, the person is not in their normal state, but in a more depressive mood, having his/hers habits and lifestyle changed dramatically.

But being in a depressive mood is a way of coping with the loss. Feeling shocked, denying, digesting the event; revisiting the past, is all expected. Unfortunately, it is part of the process. It hurts and it can be very tough, but it is necessary. Necessary to be able to carry on, not with that pain but with some acceptance and understanding that when the physical presence is not possible, that person is still there in our values, in a bit of what we do, in what we can remember and in what we carry with us. In our memory, in our hearts, and in behaviours.

It is important to go through this painful path to be able to overcome it, and to give a beautiful closure to it (yes, it is possible!). There was a teacher of mine who used to say that those who can’t remember are those who have dementia. To the rest of us, it might seem little, but memory is what might save us. So for those who are grieving: patience. Things will change, and you will change. If you need support, it is ok. We
are here for that. 

References

From the deep inside of the therapist’s heart and everything she has learned in her academic and professional journey. (Plus her good musical preferences).

Written By:
Andrea Fernandes Thomaz
Counsellor & Psychotherapist

SACAC Counselling