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Unemployed Clients - Teaching Job Seeking Skills
Unemployed Clients - Teaching Job Seeking Skills

Section 2
The Traumatic Impact of Job Loss

Question 2 | Test | Table of Contents |
Psychologist CEs, Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

In the last section we discussed how clients who have experienced a job loss can allow themselves to mourn through the process of contacting others and creating a specific time to mourn. We also discussed how clients who have faced a job loss can set their intentions.

In this section we will discuss how to help your client prepare for processing the "awful moment" of getting laid off. We will also discuss how your client can identify their shock and listen to their body.

My client Dana, age 34, was recently laid off from her job. She stated, "The morning when the layoff happened, I walked into my boss’s office to drop off a report and I saw my termination letter on her computer screen. After I saw the letter, I started making calls. I gathered up all information from my job that I thought would be relevant to finding a new job. I also called my friends to help me and get some ideas from them. The meeting was really short and I just wanted it to be over. I was led by the guards to my office to collect my belongings. They collected my keys and my badge and escorted me out of the building. I wasn’t allowed to say goodbye to any of my coworkers. That was probably the worst part. I have to say it was the most degrading way to be laid off and I hope I never have to go through it."

Getting laid off is a difficult situation for anyone. When Dana came to me, she was still very upset about her layoff and the way it was handled. I began by stating to Dana, "The moment of layoff is traumatic for everyone whether you get a notice or not."

If your client is given the chance it may be beneficial for them to shed a fear tears and hug coworkers. For clients like Dana it was demeaning to be escorted out of the building by a guard. For clients that go through that escorting process, you can remind them like I reminded Dana, "It may seem like your employer doesn’t trust you but in reality companies tend to escort employees out of the building in order to protect computer files and other acts of sabotage. It is not you, it is the company policy." Are you currently treating a client who needs to be reminded that their "escort out of the office" is standard company policy and not specific to anything they have or have not done?

Sometimes clients are part of a massive layoff or plant closing. If they are still working through their 60 days, encourage them to network for their new job and gather up any information about contacts and projects that can aid in their job search.

While in many cases you may not be able to help your client before their layoff happens and prepare them for the blow, by discussing the event with your client, it can help them work through the trauma after the fact. Dana came in to see me after she had been laid off from work. However, it was helpful for her to talk about the specifics of the situation to start the process of reaching a resolution to her emotions.

Do you have a client in the middle of a layover or who has been through a layover that can benefit from talking through the "Awful Moment" when they were escorted from the premises?

We will now transition from discussing how your client can deal with being escorted from the premises to discussing how your client can recognize their feelings of shock.

Recognize Feelings of Shock
Here are 5 notes that I discussed with Dana about the shock she was feeling from being let go.
1. Shock: Dana came to me and shared that she didn’t feel much of anything regarding her layoff. I stated to her, "This could be an indication that you are in shock."
2. Disbelief: I then stated to Dana, "It is not uncommon during the first days and weeks following your loss to experience shock, numbness, and disbelief. This is a natural way of temporarily shielding yourself from the reality of your loss."
3. In A Dream: I stated to Dana, "When your emotions need some time to catch up with what you have been told, it may feel like you are in a dream and you may feel like you are unable to do much of anything. This is normal and part of the grieving process."
4. Child-like or Neglected: When your client feels shock, they may feel passive and numbness at the same time. I stated, "You may be feeling child-like or neglecting your basic needs for food, water, and sleep."
5. Needing Time: During one of our sessions when her layoff was still new and she was still getting use to the reality of the situation, Dana complained to me that she was having a difficult time making simple decisions. I stated to her, "At this moment you may feel that you have no motivation, focus, or zero energy to look for a new job. If your family and friends are urging you to make decisions, let them know that you require time to absorb the shock before thinking about what to do next."

Your Client Listening to Their Body:

I have found, it is important for clients who are experiencing shock after his or her job loss to understand how their body is affect. I shared with Dana four notes about how she can listen to her body. As you read through these four items assess if any may be beneficial to an unemployed client you are currently treating.
1. Have you found that it is common for your client to feel physically bad while they are grieving? I stated to Dana, "When you feel fatigue, headaches or migraines, stress, body aches and pains, and high blood pressure that could be a sign that you should take it slow and, if you feel appropriate, focus inward on your grief" to try to let some of it go.
2. I stated to Linda, "Like we have discussed, your body naturally slows down and numbs when you are in shock. Others may try to prevent you from taking this time to slow down. In what ways can you honor your body’s need to slow down? Do you feel it is appropriate to ignore pressure from friends and family to immediately begin trying to find your next job?"
3. Have you found like I have that it can be important for your client to stay in the present and focus on what needs to be done today? I stated to Dana, "Try not to focus on the worries about things that may happen tomorrow and remain focused on what you are doing now."
4. Don't overlook the obvious regarding personal physical care with your client. I found I needed to periodically state to Dana, "It is important to take care of your body by getting rest, eating well, drinking an adequate amount of liquid. When you are stressed, focus on controlled breathing. Take naps and relax when you need to." Are you overlooking the obvious of a periodic basic health habit assessment with your client who is experiencing unemployment?

In this section we discussed how to help your client prepare for or process the "awful moment" of getting laid off and being escorted out of the office without an opportunity for closure with coworkers. We also discussed how your client can identify their shock in the five steps of shock, disbelief, dream, feeling childlike, and needing time. We also discussed four ways you might coach your client to listen to his or her body. These four ways are take it slow, honor his or her body’s need to slow down, stay in the present, and take care of his or her body.

In the next section, we will discuss how your client can tell his or her significant others about their recent unemployment.

Epstein 6- 7 Epstein 11-13.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Crayne, M. P. (2020). The traumatic impact of job loss and job search in the aftermath of COVID-19. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(S1), S180–S182.

Huang, D., Wang, X., & Kung, W. W. (2020). The impact of job loss on posttraumatic stress disorder among Asian Americans: 11–12 years after the World Trade Center attack. Traumatology, 26(1), 117–126. 

Wanberg, C. R., Kanfer, R., Hamann, D. J., & Zhang, Z. (2016). Age and reemployment success after job loss: An integrative model and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 142(4), 400–426.

QUESTION 2
What are the four notes that you can share with your client experiencing the shock of unemployment to help him or her listen to their body?
To select and enter your answer go to Test.

 
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