Retirement is a loaded word, brimming with promises of more time. More time for family, for hobbies, for just doing what you haven’t had time to do in decades. Though retirement can bring a lot of excitement and anticipation, many retirees have found that it can also trigger feelings of fear, uncertainty and confusion.
I had a conversation with Linda Turner to talk about her observations watching others retire. Turner is an art psychotherapist. Using a creative approach, she helps her clients navigate life’s transitions, overcome their fears, and move forward.
Turner shares how art therapy can be beneficial to those transitioning into retirement, explains her individualistic approach, and how her method differs from simply sitting down with a career counselor.
Below is a transcription of our recorded phone call.
Jaimie Blackman: Hi, this is Jaimie Blackman with BHWealth.com. I am speaking today with Linda Turner, an art psychotherapist, who has additional training and experience as a career counselor and a coach.Welcome Linda.
Linda Turner: Thank you.
Jaimie Blackman: Linda, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Linda Turner: For many years I was a textile and product designer. I changed careers around 40 to become an art psychotherapist. I’m also a painter and a playful musician. I’ve worked with people of all ages, helping them grow and live the life they want.
JB: Linda, many of my clients are concerned about retirement. When I ask them about their concerns, it all boils down to folks feeling like they’re losing their sense of purpose when they retire and like they’ve got to get back into the race. What observations have you made watching others retire?
LT: I would say that people fluctuate between feeling excited and getting scared; excited as they see that they’re going to have more time and space. Then scared, because they no longer know what comes next.
What I found is that some people start doing things and taking action. They start actually re-living their lives, starting to travel or volunteer at other part time jobs, starting to actually do things that are meaningful to them. And some people struggle to get there. Fear takes over and that’s when people need support, but there’s definitely ways to get to a place where one can thrive even after their career comes to an end.
JB: If I was an executive and I was forced to retire and I met with you, can you take me through what your process might be? How would you help me get out of this funk?
LT: Sure. First of all, I want to say that every person I work with is a unique person. I don’t have a prescribed, go-through-this-program, manualized, step-A, -B, -C, -D kind of approach. It’s really geared to the individual and what they need.
Most often, we would first look at your story: where you’ve been, what you’ve contributed, what’s been hard, what’s worked and what hasn’t. Then we would play with some exercises. The way I look at things is that we’re made up of many different aspects of oneself. The career path that one has had is just one aspect. So we might be playing with lots of different aspects of oneself. For instance,you might have the part of you that’s really scared; you might have the part of you that is a world traveler, the artist, or the musician that’s never fully realized; or the person that loves to help people but never had time. And we might imagine that there are many, many doors that could be opened and we literally might be opened and we literally might explore the experience of opening the different doors and envisioning what’s behind them from a place of imagination and exploration.
This is something that a lot of adults are not really comfortable doing. But we would spend time in this area exploring those things, and we would do it using some dramatic exercises,art exercises, conversation, whatever is needed to be able to help you recognize, “Oh, I actually see what’s next for myself.”
JB: Linda, how does art therapy differ from the approach of an executive career counseling or an executive coach?
LT: That’s a big question. I actually do some career counseling, and I use a lot less of the imagining and creative exploration in that work and it tends to be a more cut-and-dry .
In using the art, we are delving into not only the left-side of the brain, but really exploring what’s going on in the right-side–more creative–part of your brain. I constantly have people that I work with in shock when they actually create an image.as the unexpected is inevitably revealed. (By the way, no one has to know how to draw to do this.) For example I say to you, “Imagine your future,” and it feels like a blank page, then we start using art and you’re physically looking at a blank page, but then the page it starts to fill up with things you never anticipated. It starts to reflect what you actually want to happen in a way that words and conversation can’t always do.
JB: Thank you Linda for your time. To find out more information about Linda, visit her web site- www.arttherapyny.com
End note– I’m interested in holding workshops around this issue of retirement.
Send us an email regarding your observations of people you have seen retire, and what your vision for retirement is and I will inform you of future events in this area. Send your comments to- [email protected]
This is a personal opinion and does not constitute or reflect an endorsement by First Allied Securities, Inc.