How to Deal with Change (in Life and in Therapy)

Medically reviewed by: Erika McElroy, Ph.D.
Monday, July 11 2022

Life is full of changes that can be challenging to adapt to, especially when they are sudden or unexpected, such as losing a loved one or ending a relationship. Even good change, such as starting a family or landing a new job can be stressful. When you find it difficult to cope with or adapt to change, therapy can help you build the tools and skills you need to adjust when you need to cope with life's changes.

If you're already in therapy, there could be changes within your therapy journey, too. Your therapist’s availability may change, or you may even find that it’s time to switch therapists due to changes in insurance or needing a better fit for your mental health needs. Similarly, if you have a care team, you may have different providers throughout your therapy journey depending on your diagnosis and treatment plan. 

So, what can you do to cope with and adjust to these kinds of changes? Consider these tips when considering how to deal with changes in life and therapy: 

1. Acknowledge and accept the change 

It’s normal to want to avoid change, especially when it brings on unpleasant feelings. You may feel uncertainty about the future and insecure about adapting to a new aspect of life. But being in denial about change doesn’t make it go away. It’s important to not only accept that change is happening, but to also acknowledge how you’re feeling about it. It’s okay to not be okay. Feeling angry, resentful, or sad are all normal feelings associated with change. Acceptance is a necessary first step in learning to cope with and adapt to change.

2. Keep a routine to help cope with changes in life

We all have routines, whether they involve waking up and going to bed at the same time each day, exercising, meditating, or stretching regularly, or planning and taking time to sit down for regular meals. Routines create structure and help us keep balance in our daily lives. Self care routines are a great opportunity to give you a chance each day to deal with new changes in life. This can help us deal with stress and uncertainty. That’s why keeping a routine as much as possible during times of change can help you cope with the things you can’t control. So try not to hit that snooze button in the morning and look to attend your weekly yoga class. Focusing on what you can control — like your daily routine — is key to adapting to change. 

3. Seek support when you are experiencing change

If you’re having a tough time coping with changes in your life, seeking extra support can make all the difference. If you’re in therapy, talk to your therapist about the change or changes you’re experiencing and how you’re feeling. They can offer professional advice and coping strategies to help you get through difficult and challenging times. They may even be able to refer you to support groups to help you get extra support from people who are dealing with similar changes and experiences. If you aren’t in therapy, you may want to consider it — therapy can be beneficial during times of change and offer you the extra support you need to get through it. 

It can be helpful to seek support beyond your therapist, too. Look to your friends and family for an extra lift — whether it’s to simply vent and get some feelings off your chest or for more tangible things such as picking up groceries or taking care of your kids for a night. Just remember that seeking support should enable action. Just venting, for example, may be counterproductive if it is resulting in more frustrating or negative feelings. Support should give you the time and headspace to focus on what you need to do to better deal with the change you’re experiencing. 

You never have to go through change alone. Seeking support, whether it be through professional help or family and friends can help make adjustment easier. 

4. Note the positives of new changes in life

Even the toughest changes can result in something positive. You may discover that you’re stronger than you realized, and that you do have the skills to get through difficult times. Or perhaps going through change helped you focus on what’s most important to you — like your family and friends, or a passion or hobby you didn’t think you had the time for. Maybe you were able to spend more time with loved ones, or met a new friend or romantic partner as a result of change. No matter what type of change you’re going through, recognizing the positives — big or small — can help you cope. 

5. Dealing with changes in therapy

If you find yourself having to change therapists or members of your care team, you may feel frustrated or even grief, especially if you’ve had the same therapist or care team for a long period of time. It’s okay to feel this way. It can be helpful to know that you don’t have to find a new therapist on your own. Your therapist knows your background and what you need, so they can provide you with recommendations for therapists who may be a good fit for you. SonderMind is here to support you and can help you find a new therapist, too. 

It’s okay to ask your therapist or care team questions about what to expect with changes in your therapy journey — for example, “Why do you think this new therapist will be a good fit for me?”, “Will my treatment plan change?”, or “Will I be able to get the same frequency of care?”. Getting answers to any questions you may have can help you prepare for changes in your therapy journey. 

It’s important to ask questions of your new therapist or care team, too, to make sure they’re a good fit. If you find that they’re not, it’s okay to speak up. It’s important to have a strong relationship with your therapist and care team in order to reach your therapy goals. 

No doubt, change can be hard. But remember, you don’t have to go through it alone. Seeking support and building skills to help you get through it can help you cope with and adapt to the next inevitable change in life. 

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