• Autumn is a time of transition and change – some find it comforting, for others it represents a move into darker months

  • Psychotherapist Lisa Daitz explores why this time of year sees so many people coming to therapy

  • If you are keen to start your therapeutic journey, we have counsellors and therapists available here

If you’re a keen gardener, or you just enjoy noticing nature and the changing seasons, October will already hold a place in your heart. It’s a time of change, when the sap stops, the temperature drops and the colours herald a new stage in the seasons and in the year. 

For many of us, it also marks the time to slow, down, take stock and re-group. And with that, comes the opportunity to re-set and to start to ask the bigger questions about how we are living and the changes we would like to bring about as we face the coming year.

Whilst some view autumn as the end of the year, for many of us it will always be associated with a time that heralded new starts, renewed promises and potential. And with that comes the chance for new ideas, new journeys, new beginnings and, yes, new year’s resolutions.

As a psychotherapist, I know that once the summer months come to an end, I will always see an increase in calls as people recognise that the time is right to begin their therapy journey or to visit therapy again. For me, it is an exciting and optimistic time when I hear from people who are taking stock and recognising that they need to make changes. Therapy gives us the opportunity to work with challenges and issues, to make sense of them, to recognise choices and enable the opportunity to make the changes that many seek.

This year, as we move into autumn, I know that the idea of change is particularly topical and concerning. With change, inevitably comes uncertainty and now more than ever, that is striking a chord. The war in Ukraine, rising mortgage rates, the threat of cutting benefits and the dramatic increase in energy prices have forced many to take stock and face real stress and worries. And with the death of Queen Elizabeth, the foundations that often seemed to underpin the country, are feeling shaky for many people in this country.

Wherever there is change and transition, there is anxiety. Fritz Perls’ describes anxiety well when he says that it is not knowing whether we will get applause or rotten tomatoes. Right now, many of us are not sure what the future holds and that, inevitably provokes anxiety.

October is the time to ‘close the year’: to review, reset and look forward. Whilst we plan the future, we stand in a paradox as we try to plan in an uncertain world. Support in therapy can be invaluable in trying to make sense of what we facing. It’s an opportunity to explore each client’s challenges and issues and the sense they make of them. 

We take the ‘ball of wool’ that is anxiety and gently pull at each strand. We loosen the strand and we get some space. And we follow each strand to the end, making sense of the challenges, the anxieties and overwhelming feelings they may bring. It’s an exciting process and one which allows us, with better understanding, to see choices and the possibility for change. It’s also a process that explores how we can manage anxiety in an increasingly uncertain world.

For gardeners now’s the chance to look out and review the year. Which plants have prospered, given joy and done well? Which have dwindled? Which haven’t worked? And after taking stock, we look forward, asking what changes do we want to make over the next year? For many of us, the autumn marks the same moment. A moment to regroup and consider what’s gone before and then to look forward and think about what comes next. Whilst this year may feel particularly challenging, therapy, like gardening, offers a optimism that despite the difficulties we face, we are planning for the future and we continue to be a work in progress.

Lisa Daitz is a verified Welldoing psychotherapist in North London and online

Further reading

What autumn can teach us about letting go

6 self-care tips for the changing seasons

Moments of comfort: embracing joy in life's small pleasures

How to stick to a daily mindfulness practice

How to enjoy time alone