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Identity

What are identity issues?

Our identity is made up of many things, including our backgrounds, experiences, values, passions and various life roles. In essence, our identity is how we view ourselves and other people, as well as how we are seen by others.

As we move through life, it is natural for our identities to evolve and change. Sometimes we can adapt to this but at other times it can be more of a challenge, causing an ‘identity crisis’. Identity crises can be triggered by many things, such as job loss, trauma, illness, divorce, bereavement, becoming a parent, ageing or moving from one life stage into another.

Also, if a person feels that a core aspect of their self is not being expressed or accepted, then this can be its own source of pain. Additionally, being a minority in a community and suffering from discrimination as a result can have a huge effect on wellbeing.

Identity issues can be very distressing, as they challenge our very idea of who we are. However, the right therapy can help you to explore these challenges, gaining a deeper knowledge of your true self and purpose.

Key aspects of identity that can be explored in therapy include:

Racial, cultural and ethnic identity

Examining the impact of growing up with a particular skin colour, or with particular cultural traditions, or in a particular environment.

Gender identity

Examining how we feel about and express our gender identity in relation to our biological sex. When this is in conflict, it is sometimes described as gender dysphoria. Some people choose to resolve this through the process of transitioning.

Sexual identity

Examining how we feel about ourselves in relation to our sexual orientation and who we find attractive.

Spiritual identity

Examining the beliefs we have about the meaning of life, our purpose in the world and our place in the universe.

Signs of identity issues

  • Searching for more purpose, meaning and passion in your life

  • Questioning who you are

  • Feeling conflicted, confused or lost

  • Feeling judged or unaccepted

  • Feeling trapped

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Low self-esteem

  • Unhealthy relationships and co-dependency

  • Constantly comparing yourself to others

  • Sleep issues

Help with identity issues

These therapies have been shown to be effective with exploring identity issues: Psychodynamic Therapy, CBT, Art Therapy, ACT.

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