A breakup is usually an extremely painful experience, and, in certain cases, it may even lead to psychological disorders (Yıldırım & Demir, 2015, p. 38). To help a colleague (who is also a psychologist) to get over a breakup with his boyfriend, it is possible to take a number of steps described below.
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- Engage the colleague in a conversation. Perceived social support provides significant relief to people who broke up with their partners (Yıldırım & Demir, 2015, p. 41). Therefore, it is important to talk to the colleague as much as possible before his working day starts. This will permit him to “let out” some of his emotions; also, talking about some other things will distract him from his distress and provide some relief before the coming working day. It is also recommended to continue the communication after work, to engage him in friendly conversations and in going out with his friends.
- Discuss some adverse characteristics of the ex-partner. This will let the colleague see that his ex-boyfriend, despite being very precious, had certain faults. This may reduce the perceived “value” of the lost relationship, and, consequently, the sense of loss. The discussion must be objective and must not defame the ex-partner.
- Find out the reasons for the breakup. Finding out the reasons assists in correcting past mistakes; also, importantly, it lets the person “produc[e] an acceptable explanation about the breakup for themselves, the ex-partner, and members of the social network,” which helps overcome the painful experience (Yıldırım & Demir, 2015, p. 39).
- Make sure the breakup is certain and irreversible. If possible, the colleague will want to obtain a categorical statement from the ex-boyfriend, such as “our further relationships are absolutely impossible,” because such statements are more persuasive. When the colleague is sure there is no return, he will sooner be ready to leave everything in the past and move on.
- Advise him to vent emotions. “Blowing off steam” can provide significant relief (and help avoid future health problems such as weakened immune system) (Van Harreveld, Van Der Pligt, Claassen, & Van Dijk, 2007, p. 699). Music such as Bach’s BWV 639 can help some people to cry and vent their emotions.
The vignette is as follows: a peer psychologist comes for advice. She just received the results of a laboratory test that show that she has an HIV-infection. She is young, 28 years old, single, and has no children. She is afraid that she will never have a child, that her life will be short, and that she will be stigmatized. She is anxious and does not know what to do.
While helping her, it is crucial to adhere to the ethical principles, such as benevolence and respect for dignity (American Psychological Association, 2010), in order not to harm the person. It is possible to take such steps:
- Explain that she needs to start taking antiretroviral therapy. The antiretroviral therapy (ART) can significantly lengthen the life of an HIV-infected person. Taking ART may increase the risk of exposing the person’s HIV-positive status to others, which, due to the stigma, causes additional stress (Lowther, Selman, Harding, & Higginson, 2014), but it should be shown that the increased length of life is worth the risk.
- Help her to accept her new status. The colleague might have thought herself safe from such a disaster; perhaps she even had a bad attitude towards HIV-infected people. It is important to stress that HIV/AIDS is a disease, and it is not shameful to be ill.
- Explain to her that she still can have children. There is a chance for an HIV-infected mother to produce a healthy baby (AIDSinfo, 2015). If she does not want to risk infecting the baby, she can adopt a child. It is also possible, even if hard, to find a good partner.
- Provide her with further psychological support. The HIV-infection is currently incurable, so the colleague will need psychological support over a prolonged period of time.
AIDSinfo. (2015). Preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV during childbirth. Web.
American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Web.
Lowther, K., Selman, L., Harding, R., & Higginson, I. J. (2014). Experience of persistent psychological symptoms and perceived stigma among people with HIV on antiretroviral therapy (ART): A systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 51(8), 1171-1189. Web.
Van Harreveld, F., Van Der Pligt, J., Claassen, L., & Van Dijk, W. W. (2007). Inmate emotion coping and psychological and physical well-being: The use of crying over spilled milk. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34(5), 697-708. Web.
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Yıldırım, F. B., & Demir, A. (2015). Breakup adjustment in young adulthood. Journal of Counseling & Development, 93(1), 38-44. Web.