Graduation – a time of celebration, pride, and relief. You’ve made it through all the final exams and projects. Your parents are so proud. Your grandparents and other family members are proud. You’re proud of yourself – and rightfully so! The stress, sleepless nights, and anxious thoughts are done. But what if they’re not?
Sometimes, the feelings associated with graduation are much more complicated.
- A graduation is a time of new beginnings but with every beginning, there’s also an ending and with endings, there is usually some degree of grief. The predictable life you’ve known for many years is coming to an end, and is replaced with uncertainty.
- The people you’ve spent time with on a regular basis and made friends with, will no longer be in your life in that same context. Some of them (or perhaps you) – will be moving away and the reality is that you may not see them for a very long time, or possibly ever again!
- If you’re graduating from high school, perhaps your marks aren’t as high as you need them to be so while your friends are moving on to post-secondary studies, you may have to do some upgrading and are feeling left behind.
- Expectations are off the charts for graduates. Everyone tells you the world is yours for the taking! But those high hopes can feel like a lot of pressure. What if you do poorly in university? What if you don’t like the area you’ve chosen to study? What if you graduate and can’t find a job?
- Graduation from high school can bring a fear of the unknown. There’s a big transition from learning in high school, to learning in post-secondary studies. Sometimes people who were honour students in high school can really struggle in university and that can have a big impact on their identity and feelings of self-worth.
- Graduation from post-secondary studies can also bring a fear of the unknown. Some programs offer a fairly high employment success rate and others do not. There are factors that can affect your chance of gaining employment in your field that are outside of your control such as the economy or political climate. It can be demoralizing to have your degree in hand but not find a job and have to constantly answer questions from well-meaning family and friends about your search for employment.
When is it time to get help?
As exciting as graduation is, most people do feel some anxiety over the future and the unknown adventures lying ahead for them. However, if you’re finding that you are experiencing excessive anxiety, sadness or stress that’s interfering with your daily activities, you find yourself coping with unhealthy choices (alcohol, drugs, food, unhealthy relationships, etc.), or you want someone objective to help you process this life event, you could benefit from support.
You may also want to learn more about:
Challenges from graduation treatment methods
There is no specific treatment for dealing with the change that being a graduate can bring. Depending on what you’re experiencing (grief, depression, anxiety or uncertainty about your career, etc.), there are many treatment methods that can be successful.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Solution focused therapy views people as inherently strong and resilient, and capable of creating change and discovering solutions to their everyday problems.
- Mindfulness therapy is an approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves, others, and the world. The ability to be in the moment, to acknowledge and regulate your emotions helps you to break free from negative thought patterns.
It depends on you and what treatment method best suits your needs and personality. Your therapist will work with you to determine the most effective treatment method for you.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
Our therapists will support you and empower you to get through this major change in your life. We can share coping strategies and tools you can use to help you get through this time of transition and help you to see the opportunities that may now exist. We can assist you in setting realistic goals and timelines for those goals. With support, you can come out of this life-altering transition more resilient and better able to cope with all of life’s changes.
Insight can provide you with in-person, online, or telephone counselling. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.