Four Phases of Supporting Those In Transition

By Steve Arnold


The first phase of care giving to those in transition is to provide a safe place where the individual can breathe and rest.  The care giver offers a place where the individual feels safe and secure, allowing for a time of processing and reflection.  Sometimes the safe place is just to be in quiet with no conversation necessary.  This is much like the butterfly breaking out of the chrysalis.  As the butterfly emerges it needs to rest and let its wings dry out before it can fly.  This is a great time of transitional vulnerability and the resting must take place.

The second phase of the care giving is to provide a listening ear as the individual attempts to make meaning of the transition.  This meaning-making is a time for the individual to assess how the transition has impacted self-worth, relationships, identity and other issues.  This is most often a time of conversation that allows for free expression and then gradual evaluation.

The third phase of the care giving is to support the individual in the exploration of options and resources as the individual progresses in the transition process.  The person providing support makes sure that the individual has identified and explored all possible options and resources; sometimes raising tough questions along the way.  Eventually, the care giver assists in assessing the options and clarifying the resources leading toward the selection of options and the development of a plan towards movement.

The fourth phase of the support process is for the care giver to provide a place of launching.  The care giver provides support as the individual leaps into the plan that has been put in place.  The care giver offers support and assurance as the individual moves into new areas of life.

These phases are NOT linear; they are cyclical.  The transitional process cannot be rushed and as Casey Stengel (supposedly) said, “Ya ain’t ready ‘till you’re ready.”  The care giver walks with the individual for as long as needed but without creating dependency.


©Steven F. Arnold, 2010

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