Loneliness

One of the most frequent issues that clients bring to my sessions is loneliness. One general assumption of loneliness is that you are an elderly person with little contact with the outside world.

From my experiences these past few years, the people that are lonely, come from age-groups starting in late teens upwards. One individual’s story springs to mind, where they said they were lonely, and could not fathom out what to do.

A young man with a job and a house, with lots to offer, but no-one to share life with. He wanted to go on holiday abroad, go out for meals etc, except he didn’t have anyone to go with. He had thousands of ‘friends’ on Social Media; on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – made up of people he had gone to school with, worked beside and friends of friends. I asked him to count from his near 5,000 ‘friends’, ones that he had spoken to in person in the last year, and he couldn’t name one.

So, what could we do together to rectify the loneliness? I booked him up for my Walk and Talk Therapy, so that we could explore ideas on how to alter his lifestyle and taking advantage of the opportunities ahead of having ready-made contacts – the strategy was to engage in ways that encouraged communication in different formats, to change behaviour.

Our sessions went very well, lasting a couple of months and the individual managed to cut his ‘contact’ list down to a more manageable number of 200 people across all social media platforms. He went on holiday abroad with a group of old school friends, and regularly meets old work mates for a drink on a Friday evening, and now has a partner to share meals with. He is no longer lonely.

We all like success stories, like this one, however it would be useful to explore what loneliness actually is, if only to be able to recognise that someone you know needs to change their life to avoid falling in to a downward spiral, where isolation takes shape.

Thoughts and feelings of loneliness are described using words like worry, fear, shame, and helplessness.

These intense emotions have the power to influence how we behave.

How we anticipate and interpret social interactions can be affected by loneliness.


This could mean that we are unduly sensitive to signs of social rejection or that we are more wary of, or afraid of social situations.


If we think the cause of our loneliness is immutable or that it is just a trait of who we are, that is another way loneliness can manifest.


Our likelihood of experiencing loneliness later in life is influenced by early life experiences, personality types, and coping mechanisms.


While loneliness is not a mental health illness, conditions like depression and social anxiety can make it worse. However, loneliness may contribute to mental health issues.

Similar correlations exist between loneliness and dementia, whereby both conditions might influence the other.

Even while we don’t fully understand how each of these components interacts, we do know enough to develop psychological treatments as a compliment to social and structural interventions. Numerous psychological techniques can be used to reduce loneliness.

The three approaches that I frequently utilise in our sessions are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness, and Positive Psychology, however other approaches may be helpful depending on the situation. Like the individual’s case I mentioned at the start, my Walk and Talk Therapy was the best approach for him.

We’ve learned through experience that, depending on the circumstance, these tactics are typically integrated rather than employed independently. This what Walk and Talk Therapy does.

These approaches’ execution and insights are not just confined to the work of psychotherapists; a wide range of practitioners and services that aim to assist lonely persons may make use of them.

In order to better manage their difficulties, clients in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) learn to recognise and change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

When under pressure, Mindfulness can assist people in becoming conscious of their beliefs and deciding whether to embrace them or reject them.

Positive psychology helps people overcome negative emotions and thought habits while also encouraging them to embrace positive emotions.

These are the ways that my therapies have found to be the most promising so far. If you think you think you are lonely or know of someone who could benefit from some gentle therapy, please get in touch with me and we can explore ways to change your life for the better.

Stay safe

Steve

7 thoughts on “Loneliness

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