Identity Issues

What are identity issues?

Identity issues occur when a person feels unsure about who they are. This uncertainty often centres around one or more of the many different facets that make us human, such as personality, preferences, values, culture, sexuality, gender, world beliefs or even our life purpose. Additionally, personal experiences where one’s identity has not been affirmed can contribute further to feelings of confusion about who we are.

Experiencing identity issues is quite common, and occur for many of us during changes in life stages (especially during adolescence and early adulthood), major life transitions or when facing societal or personal pressures. Factors like cultural background, the predominant societal views of those around you, your social support system and family dynamics can all influence these struggles.

How might identity issues impact my mental health?

Experiencing issues with identity can affect mental health by causing feelings of confusion, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.

Being unsure about who you are or where you fit in can lead to stress and worry. You might also feel like you are constantly searching for answers or trying to be someone you are not, which can make it hard to feel satisfied with yourself. Identity issues might also strain your relationships with others, because you do not feel fully comfortable being “yourself” around them.

Overall, identity issues can take quite a toll on your mental wellbeing. If uncertainty about your identity has become significantly distressing, seeking support from a mental health practitioner can help you to manage these challenges.

Identity issues can be as a result of or related to mental health issues such as the experience of trauma in our childhood (complex trauma) or personality issues such as Borderline Personality Disorder.

How can clinicians at Cova Psychology support me?

When seeking help in dealing with identity issues, the clinicians at Cova Psychology will provide you with a warm, safe, and accepting space, and will collaborate with you in forming a treatment plan that will likely draw upon the following evidence-based therapeutic approaches for identity issues:

During sessions, your clinician will use these therapeutic modalities to guide you through exploring your own internal experiences relating to the area/s of your identity that you are unsure of. This may involve gaining a deeper understanding of your core values and identifying what the root causes of the identity issues are, through uncovering how different events and relationships have shaped your sense of self and personal life narrative. Please be assured that all clinicians at Cova Psychology aim to be identity affirming at all times, and celebrate people of all religions, ethnicities, genders and sexual identities.

Treatment for identity issues may include some of the following:

  • Challenging any negative patterns in thinking or behaving that may be contributing to identity issues.
  • Using techniques to practise full awareness and acceptance of your inner values, thoughts, and beliefs.
  • Learning strategies to implement in situations that are not affirming of your identity, and establishing self-care routines centred around self-compassion.
  • Practising setting boundaries with time spent with people and/or commitments that may be contributing to identity issues.
  • Creating a plan to take meaningful steps towards living in accordance with your identity.

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