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The Art of Life Transitions

By Claudia Carballal, M.S., LPC-A

Both of my parents come from a family of immigrants. My paternal and maternal grandparents were Spanish immigrants to Mexico. Most likely my ancestors migrated from Northern Europe to Spain where they settled. Migration runs in my family bloodline, yet I was expected to remain near my nuclear family within my community and my country of birth. However, life had a different plan for me.

I too, eventually, spread my wings and migrated, this time to the United States. After 25 years living in the United States, I have accumulated valuable experiences involving migration and life transitions.

During my work as an international human rights lawyer, and later as a therapist, I became more aware of people’s challenges during significant life transitions, including migration:

  • Loss of career or job opportunity.

  • Relationship breakup or separation.

  • Loss of loved ones and the cycle of grief.

  • Loss of belongings and property due to war or political displacement.

  • Loss of identity, belonging, and life purpose.

  • Loss of familiar surroundings and geographical landscape.

  • Changes in religious affiliation.

  • Loss of social status and friends.

  • Loss of cultural traditions and values.

Christopher Columbus, one of the greatest explorers of all time, made four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain, leading risky transatlantic maritime expeditions of discovery to the Americas. Columbus said, “You can only see what’s in the horizon if you are ready to leave the shore.”

From the psychological perspective, migration has an impact on the individual that causes subsequent defense mechanisms. According to Dr. Salman Akhtar, one of the psychoanalysts who has made most contributions to the area of migration and acculturation, moving from one country to another causes a radical alteration of the individual’s cultural and geophysical surround. Separation from friends and family, loss of material possessions and non-material aspects, and transitioning to new ways of living can result in mental pain and disorienting anxieties.

The consequences of migration and the process of acculturation can include different levels of trauma, psychological defenses, and coping mechanisms like avoidance, denial, isolation, and unconscious fragmentation of the individual.

However, we can transcend the consequences and challenges of life transitions. I have been fortunate to have a solid emotional grounding, an anchor so to speak, that has allowed me to face the challenges of migration in a more positive way. I have learned and grown exponentially from various experiences.

Having a spiritual grounding helps you see the world as a big family, instead of feeling isolated and cut off from “my country,” and “my culture.”

The history of the world is a history of immigrants and we are all one big family. The human race no longer wants to be limited by geographical boundaries to particular countries or communities. Human society is increasingly becoming broader, and this is a sign of the evolution of Consciousness. The future of the world is toward one state or one human society.

Listening to your intuition can also help you overcome the challenges of life transitions. Intuition is always guiding you; it is that inner voice that we all have since the moment we are born. Intuition is not to be confused with misguiding emotionality. Intuition comes full of clarity and is not founded on fear. It is related to spiritual intelligence grounded in the development of a Higher Consciousness. Our intuition guides us in the right direction—the direction that our Soul wants to take.

If you are going through a life transition and would like to talk about the challenges that you are experiencing, contact me for a free 15-minutes consultation by sending an email to


Claudia Carballal works as a Clinical Counselor in the United States with a private practice specializing in multicultural counseling therapy and life coaching. Her therapy work combines Western psychology and Eastern teachings. For three decades, Claudia has worked with immigrant and multicultural populations in the legal and the mental health fields. She is the author of Yoga Psychology for Mental Health: A Guide to the Wisdom of Eastern Philosophy and Yoga Psychology for Mental Health and Healing. For more information, visit Claudia Carballal Counseling. Follow Claudia on Instagram


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