It’s unfortunate but with our economy today many people are losing their jobs and working hard to find another one. Dealing with a loss of a job can be emotionally painful and difficult. To help understand what type of impact a loss of a job can have on someone and what someone can do to cope with a loss of a job, I have interviewed psychologist Dr. Marlo Archer.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I’m a licensed psychologist in Tempe, Arizona and I work with clients in my office, on the phone, through e-mail, and through chat. I have been working with kids, teens, and families for over 15 years. I find that most issues that affect one person in a family affect all the members, and that you get the best results by working with everyone involved.
My sessions usually start with parents bringing in a troubled child and investigation generally reveals that the child is responding to something that has happened that really affects the whole family, like that dad has lost his job.”
What are common thoughts and feelings that someone experiences after a loss of a job?
“Almost every feeling imaginable is possible after losing a job, but some common ones are anger, fear, confusion, shame, guilt, rage, hostility, sadness, despair, anxiety, and even relief or gratitude.”
“Like I said before, I generally work with families and when one member of a family loses a job, all the members are affected and can have very different reactions. For example, if a father loses a stressful job that kept him away from home for many hours a week, his children may be happy or excited to have dad at home more frequently and their joyful response might be very hard for the father to accept. A spouse might be scared about the job loss, adding stress for the person who already feels badly about having lost the job. Typically, fear and anger will abound in a household where a very crucial job was lost when finances are tight and no one is sure when the worker will get a new job. Minor inconveniences that would normally be handled well might begin causing huge fights.”
What type of impact can a loss of a job have on a person’s overall life?
“The loss of a job can be just as debilitating as the loss of a loved one, perhaps even more so. When someone gets old, sick, and dies, we generally expect it. When we are doing a decent job at work and get let go because of reasons that have nothing to do with our performance, it can feel like it came out of left field. People often experience the same symptoms following the loss of a job that they do after a death in the family. They might have short-term-memory difficulties, like they walk into the other room to get something and they can’t remember what they went to get. Their concentration might be poor. Their sleep, their appetite, and their sex life might be very disrupted. They may gain or lose a great deal of weight. They may begin using alcohol or other drugs or smoke more heavily. If they stay unemployed long enough, a deep depression can set in.”
How can someone cope with a loss of a job?
1. “Give yourself a break. It is a terrible devastating loss and you’re entitled to spend several days in a funk. It’s okay to cry, scream, sleep, and watch movies, or otherwise zone out for a little while.”
2. “Welcome and invite help from others. People really like to help, if they can. Start telling people you lost your job and if they ask what they can do to help you, tell them something they can do, even if it is simple like: Keep an ear out for any accounting jobs, or, could you ask your brother-in-law if they need anyone down at the foundry, or could you take my kids one day next week so I can put my resume together.”
3. “Spend some time planning what you are going to do. Often the loss of a job can be an opportunity for change. Ask yourself if you were really happy doing that job. Do you want another job just like it or are you ready for something completely different? Is this the time to open that restaurant you’ve always wanted? Or to go back to school? Or to take 3 months off and go to India?”
4. “Get to work on your plan. Set yourself a regular schedule and spend an average workday’s worth of time working on your plan. If you have decided to open a flower shop, spend at least 8 hours a day working on that plan. If you want to find another job, spend 8 hours a day working on your resume, making phone calls, sending e-mails, and networking with people who can help you.”
5. “Don’t overdo it. Finding a new job can take days, weeks, months, or even years in some cases. Just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean you don’t have a life. You still need to take time to do fun things, frivolous things, things you enjoy. After 3-4 months of job-hunting, you will probably need a short vacation. Even if you only camp in your own back yard, get away for a few days and come back with a fresh attitude.”
6. “If you find that you are spending more than 2 weeks just not getting anything accomplished at all, seek professional help.”
What type of professional help is available for someone who has lost his or her job?
“Career counselors can help a job-seeker decide what new avenues exist for exploration. Therapists, Counselors, and Psychologists can help with all the difficult feelings that arise from being jobless. Psychiatrists can give medication if depression or anxiety becomes so overwhelming that the job search cannot continue. Life Coaches can help with self-esteem and goal-setting. If you don’t know where to start, talk with your regular doctor, they can often point you in the right direction.”
Thank you Dr. Archer for doing the interview on how someone can cope with a loss of a job. For more information on Dr. Archer and her work you can check out her website on www.DrMarlo.com.
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