Some Reflections on Interim Space

This Tuesday, June 23, 2009, I’ll be a guest on a radio talk show with the focus on “Managing Depression and Stress During the Harsh Economic Times.” The show is accessed through the web at It will be “aired” at noon on Tuesday (I’m not sure exactly how it works). What I have in mind is talking about people’s reactions, stress, feelings of powerlessness, anxiety, and despair in response to economic hardships that so many are facing. I have in mind reviewing some of the management techniques that I have discussed in this blog – ways of reducing that stress and instilling a sense of being able to do something in the face of some very seemingly insurmountable problems.

I’m not sure if I’ll get to the psychological dimensions of this difficult time, given that there are so many more immediate demands (mortgage payments, college tuition, job hunting, to name just a few). But in gathering my thoughts for the upcoming radio show, I have been thinking about interim space. That is the situation we are all in as we wait for the economy to rebound. A billboard for Charles Schwab says “If there is a return trip, I want to be on it.” We are in some sense waiting – in a limbo or interim space: In between the current harsh times and the unknown (hopefully brighter) future.

It is a difficult state to be in. Whether one is waiting for a new job, a new relationship, better economic fortunes, it is hard to wait. And often there are many uncomfortable feelings, anxiety and fears. The approach that I take, when talking to clients in some sort of limbo state, is two-fold. We often look at ways to manage these distressing feelings. Perhaps the person needs to foster more of a structure and schedule, to engage in physical activities and time with friends. But we also look at the challenge of feeling and tolerating these disturbing and uncomfortable emotions. And that’s where psychotherapy comes in: it is easier (though by no means easy) to feel anxiety, fears, with someone. It’s true that in my role as a psychotherapist I can’t feel my client’s feelings; but I can feel with her and let her know that I am there.

In this way the seemingly unbearable, or just downright uncomfortable, feelings are made more bearable. It is more possible, then, to transit through this interim space until the unknown future is known.

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