Michael E. Holtby, LCSW, BCD
Personal Growth & Life Transitions
If your current transition involves the loss of a loved one click here: Losses
To legitimately use health insurance to see a therapist your condition
must dictate a "medical necessity". Psychotherapy under these circumstances is
often diagnosed as an "adjustment disorder". But this means you have been
defined as having a mental illness. This is putting the complexity of life into
too rigid a category. It is a very legitimate use of a therapist to serve as a
coach, confidant, and mentor at times in your life when you feel stuck, without
purpose, overwhelmed by losses, defeats, or radical changes. Doing life well
takes courage, flexibility, self understanding and acceptance, confidence and
the ability to take risks. Such skills are not automatic, and often require
reducing our old emotional baggage to a carry on.
Last week I had an interesting dialogue with an activist for the disabled
political group, Not Dead Yet. She sighted a study in which quadriplegics on a
ventilator were asked to rate their life satisfaction. Ninety percent viewed
their lives as "very satisfying". I find this quite fascinating given their
physical limitations, and given Thoreau's view that most people live lives of
"quiet desperation". When it comes to the general population, I believe Thoreau
would be more accurate. Symptoms of this desperation are the fact that the average person watches twenty hours
of television a week, or by the fact that one in ten are alcoholics, and that
our society suffers from a plethora of other addictions: drugs, food, sex,
shopping, and yes, the Internet. I believe these addictions serve as a
distraction from an underlying sense of emptiness, alienation, and loneliness.
Seeing a therapist about such existential questions as, "How do I make my life have meaning?" is going beyond the psycho pathology view of therapy as a way to overcome a mental illness. Yet it can move you along your personal path at greater velocity than you could accomplish alone. Life is a fascinating mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved. As Helen Keller said, "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all."
For a great description of the experience of transition and change go to: Transitions
Also see The Courage To Live written for People With AIDS, but relevant to all of us.
Last messed with August 20, 2003
Copyright(c) 2001 Michael E. Holtby, LCSW. All rights reserved.