Whether it’s being away from home for the first time, living with a new roommate or getting back into the swing of school, all of us are adjusting to changes in our lives. While some of us may seem like we’re taking the adjustment process in stride, others may find it more difficult.
No matter how it looks from the outside, though, adjustment is a process that everyone goes through. Carla Bradley, a psychologist at Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) here at CU Boulder, discusses what we need to know about adjustment and how to support a friend who may be struggling.
Adjustment is the process of adapting to new environments and challenges. It includes anything from learning to do laundry to making new friends and feeling at home in a new place.
It’s common to struggle with adjustment, and it’s important to recognize the process looks different for everybody. Resilience (the ability to overcome challenges and keep going) is an important piece of going through the adjustment process as well.
Whenever we’re in a new situation, we need time to adjustment and recognizing that is one of the first things that will help us with the process. There are a variety of other things that can help, too.
Everybody’s adjustment process looks a little bit different. People sometimes need a little bit of support, even if it looks like they are adjusting well. Here are some things we can do to help others adjust.
Again, the key is resilience. Know that every student goes through this transitional period and has the capability to come out stronger on the other side.
Bradley points out that struggling with adjustment is no reflection on the individual. Our propensity for resilience gets built up over time, and we develop the tools at our own pace.
Adjustment is a universal process, and being able to recognize these feelings is an important step in building resilience. Reaching out, taking care of ourselves and giving the process plenty of time and space can all help.
Carla Bradley earned her doctoral degree from The Fielding Institute in 1997 after working as a social worker and licensed professional counselor for 17 years. She completed her postdoctoral work in Frontier Psychology and served in the National Health Service Corp for several years before coming to CAPS in 2002.
During her long tenure as a social worker, Bradley developed interests in foster care, adoption, addiction, trauma, feminist therapy and program administration.
She remains active in deepening her understanding and appreciation of diversity and multiculturalism. Bradley is interested in religious and spiritual issues in psychotherapy as well as the intersection of philosophy and psychology. She is active in the teaching, training, and mentoring of future psychologists.
Bradley has a developing personal yoga practice and appreciates how self-care and attunement to the body can contribute to overall mental and emotional wellness.