The importance of connection in the face of isolation

Michelle Briggs

Michelle Briggs

UKCP psychotherapist Michelle is an accredited, UKCP psychotherapist and founder of Counselling West Bridgford, a private practice based in Nottinghamshire.

In the UK those who reported feeling chronically lonely increased by more than 1 million in 2021, as a result of pandemic restrictions1. As we emerge into living post-lockdown, many people will re-establish connections, whilst others will need additional support to combat loneliness2.

Understanding our connections can help with that recovery.

Connecting

The amount of connection we need varies not just from day to day but also across our lifetime. Everyone has different connection needs. Much of the time, we manage it all instinctively through life experience. Sometimes, though, we might feel a little lost as to what to do, and I found that understanding the different types of loneliness can help.

We can think about connection and loneliness as four types or dimensions: intimate, relational, collective, and self.

Intimate

An intimate connection is formed with the one or two people we are closest too. It is often with your intimate partner, but also with your best friends.

Relational

Relational connections are developed with our circle of friends, and this is a broad category. We have multiple layers of friendships, from those we speak to and see regularly through to those we would come across occasionally.

Collective

Collective is the category of ‘something bigger than me’, a community. Examples are your pilates class, the football team you support, religious faith, a cause you feel strongly about, or the company you work for.

This dimension can be powerful in combatting loneliness. If we are part of something bigger than ourselves, especially if it’s an act of service (helping out), it can improve our self-worth.

Self

Self relates to how we understand ourselves. Strong connection in this dimension helps us to spend more time alone and find confidence in who we are. It also helps us understand which connections are good for us, and which aren’t.

Connection Inventory Workbook

If you’d like to improve your connections, I’ve developed the Connection Inventory Workbook. It is designed to help you reflect on each dimension, understand which connections may be missing, and act to close the gap.

Psychotherapy helps

It’s a cruel twist of evolution that the lonelier we feel, the more likely we are to further isolate ourselves, so we will often need others to take action with us.

Psychotherapy can help us to explore who we are and how we can find connections that are good for us. The psychotherapeutic relationship is particularly helpful if you’re struggling to take those first steps to reduce your own loneliness and find ways to connect with others and yourself.

Find a UKCP accredited therapist on our website


You can also find support by contacting:

In an emergency, call: 999

NHS (England), call: 111

NHS Direct (Wales), call: 0845 46 47

The Samaritans 24-hour helpline, call: 116 123

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