“They Need More Support to Become Adults”: Julia Samuel on Millennials
Julia Samuel's This Too Shall Pass was published on March 5
Samuel spoke at welldoing.org and the BACP's recent event titled Working With Millennials
There are many reasons why millennials may seek therapy – if this applies to you, find your therapist here
Author and psychotherapist Julia Samuel has a new book out, This Too Shall Pass, focusing on the difficulty of change in people’s lives, and how it can — if handled properly — lead to a more hopeful future. Her previous book, Grief Works, was a Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller, so much is expected of this one too, by therapists as well as the general public.
Julia drew on the new book when she took part in the Welldoing/BACP Working with Millennials event in Brighton in January. Along with a range of other therapists, she spoke at length about millennial clients and how therapy feels for them. All the talks were filmed and are available to subscribers on the Welldoing Learning Hub.
With the high-speed of change that is making this century so different to the last, younger people are turning to therapy in numbers not seen in previous generations. Julia believes that often therapy is sought is preventative as much as to deal with difficult issues.
In an interview with welldoing.org's Louise Chunn in The Times last month Samuel said, “The millennial generation has had much more attention from their parents, and for longer periods, than previous generations. Theirs is an extended adolescence, and so they feel the need for more support to get into full adulthood. They also have a considerably bigger emotional vocabulary. They are much more aware of how they feel and of being able to process these feelings.”
As Julia says, for this age group, relationships are key: “Millennials want partners to fulfil all their needs, to be the ‘best friend, best lover, best housemate, best cook’. People now get married for love, whereas before it was more of an economic contract.” The changing role of women is also important in the mix of influential factors.
Millennials live fully in the digital world; every text, every status update, every shared photo is equally important for them. On top of the digital overwhelm, they wonder will they ever become self-supporting adults like their parents. “The revolution in ways of work may in the end be good for them but the future is much less certain than ours was, and all unknowns are frightening.”
This is where a good relationship with a therapist is a powerful tool to help clients look past unreasonable expectations of themselves and others. As Julia told Louise, “I encourage them to focus on what they are truly passionate about and what matters to them, rather than what impresses others.”
Are they, Louise asked her, less happy more stressed than previous generations? “I don’t think we know. And we didn’t have the huge scale of competition they face 24 hours a day. I encourage them to be more self-compassionate and less perfectionist. And to do things that balance. In the end, they have to learn to ride the waves.”