The Change and Transition course was a great learning experience for me. It has helped me gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of change and transition, as well as their progression. In this course, we studied a number of transition theories and learned how to apply some techniques during the transition process. The things that I have learned in this course will definitely help me become a good career counselor; assisting clients in managing the transitions in their lives. I also noticed that this course is strongly related to other courses that we have studied during the program.
1. My personal ability to cope with transition.
This course gave me a lot of insights. I learned that managing transition is another important life skill, which helps in different stages of life. I am considering it as a life skill because it involves self-awareness, communication, interaction, the ability to deal with different situations, and, sometimes, analysis as well.
As I began applying some of the theories and activities in class, I became more self-aware; I understood the stages of the transition, what happens during those stages, and the feelings and emotions related to these stages. I think that being able to understand what happens inside and outside yourself is very essential as it helps you better cope with transition.
I learned many things from Bridges Theory. One of them is how this theory describes stages of transition: the ending, the neutral zone, and the new beginning. Every transition begins with an ending. As it says, “we have to let go of the old thing before we can pick up the new one” (Bridges, pg 11). Understanding the three stages of transition will help us to better deal with transitions. Being self-aware of one’s feelings and understanding and where one is the transition process is very important.
Another thing that I learned from Bridges theory is the difference between change and transition. “Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological” (Bridges, preface). When I think about the Bridges theory that change is external and the transition is internal, I can understand better why we as individuals react differently to transitions. Knowing that the transition is a response to change gives me an understating that we somehow have control of this response.
I can relate the Bridges theory at this point with Schlossberg’s theory that “the same person may react differently to different types of changes or even to the same type of change occurring at different times in life” (Schlossberg, p.2). Schlossberg’s theory also describes in details the factors that affect the transition. They are divided into three categories: 1) Perception of the particular transition; 2) Characteristics of pre-transition and post-transition; and 3) Characteristics of the individual.
The way they interact with each other gives results in adaptation. Having knowledge about the sets of factors and how they affect adaptation is important because I can use different techniques or resources in order to make the transition easier.
Also, one of the things that I learned from Brammer’s theory was about the perception of stress and how important it is to manage stress during transition process. Brammer’s theory says that “Coping is an emotional, rather than a purely cognitive process” (pg.19). Since coping involves emotional, rather than cognitive process, then the chances to manage “coping” are higher when we use different techniques and resources. Different activities and exercises were thought in school in order to get a better understanding of those theories and how to apply them. These gave me more insights about coping with transition.
One example of this is the Support Network exercise. I learned that sharing your feelings and concerns with others is better than just keeping it to yourself. When coping with transition, it is important to interact with people that we feel comfortable with. While I was doing the Support Network exercise and dividing my support network into three groups – heart, head, and arms/legs - I was thinking of how much I have done by myself without asking for help. It is really important to have your support network not only for difficult days, but for every event in your life.
Life Line exercise was another activity that we did in class. By looking at past events, I was able to see some of the strengths that I have gained during my past transitions. I think I can use those insights and new skills I have gained to handle present transitions and other transitions that might happen in the future. Chapter Headings exercise was the following activity after Life Line. I found this exercise very creative. It was interesting to see how some events can be described with just a few words that you never thought about before. It was like to give more meaning to your life events.
Another activity was the Gains and Losses exercise. According to my professor, “every change, even those we choose, has gains and losses.” Every change we make and every transition we experience has its losses, but most importantly, it also has its gains. Thus, finding the good in every change or transition helps us to reach our goals and move forward in life. I also learned about proactive and reactive focus. Being proactive is about taking responsibility for my life. Instead of reacting to things over which I have little or no control of, I should focus my time and energy on the things I can control. According to my professor, “the bigger the circle of control, the smaller the circle of concern.”
2. How to apply the learning experience to the clients
After studying some of the transition theories and applying some exercises, I think that I have gained some skills to better cope with different transitions. Also, as a career counselor, I feel that will be able to use those skills in order to assist clients during the transitions in their life.
First, it is really important to validate the feelings that the client is experiencing during transition, as well as understand that the clients experience the transition differently - different needs and different timeframes. Thus, the counselor has to be patient and supportive.
It is important to understand where the clients are in the transition process. Sometimes the clients are struggling with transition and might seem that they are not cooperating. So, it is important distinguish the difference between reluctance and the transition stage of the client.
The career counselor should posses the necessary skills and should use different techniques and tools in order to assist clients in having a healthy transition. For example, Bridges Theory provides a way to understand change and transitions, and can be used to support clients in understanding the transitions. As a career counselor, it is necessary to help the client understand that it is completely normal to experience different feelings and emotions such as worry, happiness, loneliness, and confusion. Thus, it is normal to expect a reaction. Also, it is important for the client to understand that it will end. Bridges theory explains that very well.
According to Schlossberg theory, it is important to consider different factors. The career counselor has to explore clients personal and environmental factors, such us support network and a lot of other factors. By doing that, a career counselor can better understand the client and they can take appropriate interventions. One of the techniques that we learned in class was the Support Network exercise. Using this technique, the counselor is able to understand who are the client’s support persons. Often, the need for support occurs during times of vulnerability. Sometimes, the counselor might even be the only support person for the client and can make a big difference in his or her life.
According to Brammer’s theory, coping is emotional. Thus, it is important to encourage the client to use different resources for managing stress in order to better cope with transition. We learned in class about positive copers and negative copers. This is a very good exercise for the clients as well. This exercise encourages the client to start with some small steps in order to eventually replace negative copers with positive copers. Also, giving some more information on how to deal with stress is useful. Another very good activity related to stress is the test called “How vulnerable are you to stress”. All items listed in this test are under our control. This test help the client see the items in which they scored higher so that they can try to modify them.
Almost all transition theories emphasize the meaning and purpose in life. Thus, encouraging the client to put meaning even for small things or steps can make a big difference.
Some other exercises that we did in class that teaches very useful techniques with clients include the Life Line exercise, the Collage, the Chapter Heading Exercise, and the Coin Activity. By using these techniques, the counselor is able to help the clients discuss their life events in greater detail. This way, they give voice to what may have not been easily expressed before. The counselor can reflect the strengths that the client has gained through these experiences, and, as a result, the client will be encouraged to use those strengths in dealing with future transitions. These activities can be used to open up different discussions as well as strengthen the client- counselor relationship.
Another important thing to do as a career counselor is to help the clients move from the circle of concern to the circle of influence, and eventually, to the circle of control. During transition, it is very helpful to focus on what is truly in our power to control. Helping clients to prioritize things and take small, manageable steps makes a difference.
I mentioned before that we learned that every change and transition comes with losses and gain – we performed an exercise about that in class. I think this is going to be useful for the clients as well. It will help the clients see the gains more clearly, thus encouraging them to focus on more gains in order to move forward.
3. Relation to other courses
I have taken different courses since September last year. During this time, I have learned different theories and ideas. After taking Managing Change and Transition course, I am able to see how this course relates to other courses. I think that all the courses I have thus far have a strong relationship between them. I will try to explain some of them.
During “Overview to Career and Work Counseling” course, we learned about the roller coaster. We learned about the feelings that people experience during times of unemployment, the ups and downs, and the importance of knowing those feelings in order to bring them under control. The same thing is true with the transition wave that we learned on the “Managing Change and Transition” course. Since the unemployment period is a transition process itself, we can see the strong relationship between them.
I also learned about Sociological Theory during “Work and Life” course. From this learning experience, I got a better understanding of factors that affect human society such as culture, socialization, norms and values, status and roles, etc. All these are key factors that affect the transition as well. We learned about those factors in greater detail in the “Managing Change and Transition” course.
In the ACEC course, we learned the importance of creating a collaborative relationship with the client and the importance of clarifying the client’s personal and environmental resources and needs. This is strongly related to the “Managing Change and Transition” course as well, since it is one of the main points to know in order to be able to assist the client during transition process.
In the “Job Search” course, we learned very useful techniques to help the clients in order to be successful in their job search. People experience transitions during unemployment, thus, guiding them through job search is very helpful. We learned about different types of transitions and different techniques. Job search techniques can be very helpful during transition as well. In the “Group Counseling” course, we learned about the planning stage. This is where we have to think about target population and their needs. This helps clients in transition as well.
The “SEC” course taught us about learning strategies and self-management strategy, which are also very good techniques for clients in transitions.
Overall, I really enjoyed and learned a lot from this course. This course was really helpful for me as an individual, as well as for my career as a counselor. This course has helped me gain better understanding on how all courses relate to each other.