Interpersonal Therapy: Role Transition Transcript

Speaker 1: In this session we meet Sheryl, who a year ago divorced her college sweetheart and husband of 10 years. They have two kids together, ages five and seven. Sheryl has been a stay-at-home mom the last six years, but since the divorce has been forced to start working again, starting her new role as a single working mom. This is the first session that Sheryl has had with her therapist, and they will be discussing a strategy to deal with her new role as a divorced single mother transitioning into the workforce. This session will focus on mourning the loss of the old role as a married, stay-at-home mother, and begins to identify positive aspects of the new role through the establishment of social supports.

Counselor: All right. So last session we were talking about your struggle with your transition from being a stay-at-home mom to the workforce. Let's talk a little bit more about that. How has your life changed since the last session?

Sheryl: Well, I've been feeling really depressed lately because I just feel like my life has changed so drastically in the last year since my divorce. I'm really struggling with work. I just feel like the responsibilities are starting to just really pile up, and I just don't have anyone to talk to. I've been at my job now for a year and I still feel like I'm relatively new. There's just nobody there to talk to about it.

Counselor: Yeah, I can understand that after seven years of wait in the workforce, your roles now must be really different from that then when you were at home with your kids. Tell me a little bit more about what you loved about being at home as a stay-at-home mom.

Sheryl: I really loved being around my kids. I think it's just really important for parents to be there for every moment. I was there when they first started talking, first started walking, and I really think it's important for parents to be involved. I got to see them grow up and I taught my kids how to tie their shoes, so I just loved being there for those moments.

Counselor: It sounds like your such a devoted mother and I can see how it's not always easy to give up those moments, especially a single working mom. What things about being at home did you not like as much?

Sheryl: Well, as much as I really loved being with my kids, I just felt like I was missing out on some normal things. I just missed having adult conversations and just being around adults as well in general. Since my divorce from Mark, I only have my children to talk to, so I really do miss that. I really feel like being a stay-at-home mom, I was really just financially dependent on my husband, and I didn't really like feeling like I had to be supported all the time.

Counselor: It sounds like your role as a stay-at-home mom was really great for both you and your kids. I think it's in a lot of ways, your new role as a working woman is giving you an opportunity to be financially independent and interacting with other adults. What are your thoughts on that?

Sheryl: I definitely agree. It's given me an opportunity to be independent and financially independent as well. I love working, I love being around adults now, but I'm still struggling with work. I'm having a really difficult time. I just really feel lonely. I know that everyone at work is friends with everyone, and I kind of feel a little bit like an outsider.

Counselor: so it sounds like your work experience, it might help you if you get a few [inaudible 00:04:33] support networks and build up some friendships at work. Are there any opportunities where you might be able to get to know people a little bit more and interact with them on a more personal level?

Sheryl: Opportunities? Yeah. Yeah, when I think of it, yeah. I know they have this monthly potluck at work, and I guess I could find out a little bit more about it. Maybe participate. [inaudible 00:05:05]. And I know that they have weekly volleyball tournaments with some of the coworkers. I could also look into that as well. There's some women at work and sometimes I hear them talking about their kids, so I guess if I try to make friends with these women, we'd have a lot in common. I guess they'd be a really good support system to have.

Counselor: Yeah, it sounds like there's quite a few opportunities where you can get involved, maybe even opportunities to bring your kids to the events. The potlucks might have a family orientation to them, and I think that's a great, great start for developing some support at work and have people to talk with on a more personal level.

Speaker 1: In this session, the counselor helped Sheryl evaluate her old and new role. Through this process she was able to mourn the loss of her old role as a stay-at-home mom. By exploring both positive and negative aspects of the old role, Sheryl is given the opportunity to acknowledge limitations with her role as a stay-at-home mom. Through this exploration, Sheryl was able to acknowledge the potential for her new role to influence her life positively. Together, the counselor and Sheryl explore opportunities to gain social support networks within her work environment.