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Managing Life’s Transitions:. Figure 1: Man trying to decide which of two directions to take. Personal –Relationships– Societal Education – Work – Military. By: Kathleen E. High , M.Ed. Adjunct Counselor, Cypress College. Transitions Model 1. Understanding Transitions:

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managing life s transitions

Managing Life’s Transitions:

Figure 1: Man trying to decide which of two directions to take

Personal –Relationships– Societal

Education –Work – Military

By: Kathleen E. High, M.Ed.

Adjunct Counselor,

Cypress College

transitions model 1
Transitions Model1
  • Understanding Transitions:
  • Anticipated: Graduation, marriage, parenthood, start a job
    • Unanticipated: Accident, layoff, untimely death of loved one
  • Nonevent: Not married, remaining childless, don’t retire
    • 4 Ss System for Coping with Transitions:
    • Situation: Situation at time of transition will affect response
    • Self: Your inner strength for coping with the transitions
    • Supports: The support available is critical to your well-being
    • Strategies: Strategies used to change the situation

1Schlossberg, N. K. (2011). The challenge of change: The transition model and its applications

transitions defined 2
Transitions Defined2:
  • Endings

Triggering event, then the loss of the old life:

      • Disengagement
      • Disidentification
      • Disenchantment
      • Disorientation
  • Neutral Zones

The old life has ended, and the new life has not yet begun

  • New Beginnings

It is a Process - not a “To Do List”. “Signs” are generally not available

  • Listening to the “inner voice” for patterns and new opportunities
  • Launching a new set of priorities, ideas, and goals

2Bridges, W. (1980). Transitions. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.

new beginnings reflection
New Beginnings Reflection:
  • To help you understand how this process works:
  • Think back on a significant
  • new beginning you had in your past:

What were the “steps” you took to begin?

many types of transitions
Many Types of Transitions:


  • A Changing World
  • Native to immigrant
  • Groups – majority to minority, etc.
  • Spiritual – place of worship
  • Move to a new community


  • High school to college
  • Community college to university
  • College student to graduate
  • Student to employee
  • Employee to student


  • New assignments, bosses, etc.
  • Employee to manager
  • Employed to unemployed
  • Unemployed to employed
  • Employee to retired


  • Civilian to soldier
  • Soldier to veteran
  • Personal
    • Child to adult
    • Dependent to independent
    • Caregiver to “empty nest”
    • Able-bodied to disabled
    • Incarcerated to parolee/free
    • Addicted to Sober
    • Spirituality (change beliefs or religion)
    • Home: (apartment to homeowner, etc.)
    • Personal technology (phones, TV, computers, etc.)
    • Physical (puberty, menopause, aging, etc.)
  • Family & Other Relationships
    • Single to married (or otherwise committed)
    • Married to single
    • Childless to parent
    • Independent to caregiver (or the reverse)
    • Death (or separation from) a loved one
more than one transition
More Than One Transition?
  • Q: Is it possible to experience more than one transition at a time?
  • A1: Yes. You can experience several simultaneous or serial transitions at any time.
  • A2: Some transitions may trigger others -
  • Example:
  • Loss of job can also trigger:
  • New student, family status changes, and

Veteran (if job was military), etc.

identify your personal transitions
Identify Your Personal Transitions
  • TYPE of transitions are you dealing with right now?
    • Personal, Relationships, Societal, Education, Career, Military
  • ASSESS your transition(s)?
    • Is your transition: Anticipated, Unanticipated, or Nonevent?
    • PHASE of the process
      • Where are you in the process?
      • Endings, Neutral Zone, New Beginnings
how transitions affect you emotionally
How Transitions Affect You –Emotionally:



Perception of Reality


Sense of Identity


  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Grief3:
    • Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance
  • Resistance
  • Reminiscing
  • Regret

3Kubler-Ross, E. (1997). On death and dying. New York: Touchstone.

how transitions affect you in other ways as well
How Transitions Affect You – In Other Ways As Well -
  • Physical
  • Level of “Productivity”
  • Relationships
  • Authority
  • Roles
  • The “Rules”
  • Expectations
  • Priorities
  • Financial
  • Legal

3Kubler-Ross, E. (1997). On death and dying. New York: Touchstone.

how to manage transitions 4
How to Manage Transitions4
  • Embrace “Neutral Zones” as a productive “reorientation” process:
    • Surrender to the process instead of trying to avoid or fight it
      • Find time and place to be alone
      • Log “neutral zone” experiences
      • Write your autobiography
      • Discover what you really want
      • Imagine what would be unlived if you died today
      • Take a short “right of passage” retreat

4Bridges, W. (1980). Transitions. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.

how are your transitions affecting you
How are Your Transitions Affecting You?
  • Reflect on your transitions:
    • What challenges are you dealing with?
      • Emotional: Mental, Emotional Grief, Resistance, Reminiscing, Regret, Spiritual Perspective, Political Perspective, Personality, Sense of Identity, Sense of Reality, and Values
      • Other Ways: Physical, Level of Productivity, Authority, Roles, Rules, Expectations, Priorities, Financial and Legal
    • Should you prioritize them?
managing the effects of transitions
Managing the Effects of Transitions
  • “Neutral Zone” is not the end of the world
    • Learn the “New Rules”
    • Envision “New Beginnings”
    • Embrace this as an opportunity for pursuing your dreams and goals
  • Develop a support system:
    • Family, friends, support groups, place of worship, resource centers, etc.
  • Seek professional help if necessary:
      • Mental health counselors
      • Career Counselors
      • Other “professional skilled helpers” (clergy, lawyer, parole officer, VA officer, drug/alcohol counselor, etc.)
  • Utilize available resources:
  • Your personal support system, printed/on-line materials, books, support groups, resource centers, professional help, place of worship, etc.
  • Find a mentor (Someone who has gone through your transition before)
utilize resources
Utilize Resources

On-Campus Resource Centers

  • Career Planning Center
  • Transfer Center
  • Veterans Center
  • Disabled Students Programs & Services
  • Financial Aid
  • Student Health Center
  • Special Interest Student Clubs


      • Discerning Seasons
      • Paradigm Shifts
      • Hidden Rules
      • Setting Effective Goals
  • Off Campus Resource Centers
    • Local One-Stop Centers (Employment)
    • VA Office
    • VFW – Veterans of Foreign Wars
    • 12-Step programs (AA, Alanon, etc.)
    • Employer’s Human Resources Dept.
    • Check these institutions for potential resource centers:
      • City, County, and State Governments
      • Non-profitsorganizations (legal, etc.)
      • Local houses of worship
  • Books
    • Transitions
    • On Death and Dying
wrap up
Wrap Up
  • RESOURCES: What resources can help you?
    • Books, handouts, counselors, support groups, etc.
  • Do you have mentors / professionals / skilled helpers who can help you manage the process?
    • If not, where can you find one?
  • What is your next step?
  • Bridges, W. (1980). Transitions. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.
  • Kubler-Ross, E. (1997). On death and dying. New York: Touchstone.
  • Schlossberg, N. K. (2011). The challenge of change: The transition model and its applications. Journal of Employment Counseling, 159-166.