How Therapy Can Help After A Breakup

By: Mike Leonard & Lindsay Meck

Real Talk... Breakups are HARD

Breakups—we've all been through them or know someone who has. Breakups can serve as comic or heart-wrenching plot lines for TV and film, fuel the creative behind some of today's biggest hits, and serve as instrumental life lessons.

They can also be some of the most difficult transitions to manage.

Breakups come in many forms: a dissolution of a marriage, a legal divorce, as an end to a multi-year commitment (which can include a shared home, finances, pets, and sometimes children) or as a mysterious separation after a handful of app-initiated dates.

Regardless of the length or status of the relationship, or the ages of the affected parties, they hurt and take time to heal.

Breakups can be stressful

In evaluating the “Most Stressful Life Events” on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, a ranking system of 43 events that lead to illness, “Divorce” and “Separation from your partner” receive the second and third highest rating.

“Relationships” are consistently a leader in stress causation nationwide.

Managing uncoupling

For someone who has managed a challenging uncoupling, this high stress rating will come as no surprise. Let’s take, for example, that you are splitting up from your partner of four years.

You have shared an apartment for two years, during which time you’ve shared many experiences (holidays with family, exciting vacations overseas, a major job transition, and an adopted dog). Now you find yourself having to find and afford a new place to live (as well as new utilities and furnishings), determine custody of a pet you’ve both grown attached to, explain the breakup over Thanksgiving dinner, all while mourning the loss of your partner, and accepting a future without them.

This can be an overwhelming process, manifesting stress physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.

Therapy can help offer you a neutral perspective

While there is no magical surefire way to handle all of this, there are services that can help.

We are strong proponents of seeking therapy after a breakup. Therapy can provide a safe space to explore your pain from the breakup while developing coping strategies for the future.

A therapist can act as a sounding board to help you better define your goals and clarify who you are and what you want out of life.

A mental health professional is there not only to listen, but to help provide a new and neutral perspective that those in your orbit (friends, family members, etc.) may not be able to offer.

Therapy can often help promote better self-esteem as you begin to rebuild.

While the prevalence and social acceptance of therapy is growing, there is still some skepticism and reluctance toward mental health treatment.

We remind you that a breakup can feel like a mental “break your leg” moment. You may not go to the doctor every day, but when you break your leg, you can’t solve that alone with Tylenol and rest.

We certainly encourage people going through the difficult life transition of a breakup to explore therapy as a means of repair and recovery. It will get easier, but in the meantime, there is work to be done. We invite you to take the first step in moving onward.

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