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Identity Development


Counseling Services

2 E. South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401



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College is a place where personal identities are in a constant state of motion. Between finding a major, meeting new friends, and joining organizations, there are often more questions than answers. As your environment changes, you may also notice differences in yourself. It is natural and healthy to experience changes in your self-concept, but sometimes that process can be confusing or even painful.

Identity crises can call into question core aspects of our humanity, such as gender, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs. The effects are different for everyone, and may include depression or anxiety. Counseling can be helpful to rule out mental illness and to explore your identity in a confidential space.

If you have concerns about how your identity development is affecting you, please call 309.341.7492 to schedule with a counselor on campus.

Signs of an Identity Crisis

  • Feelings of aimlessness or emptiness
  • Preoccupation with identity-related questions
  • Emotional distress or irritability
  • Lack of motivation and/or decrease in daily functioning
  • Social withdrawal or possible relationship conflict

Coping Tips for Identity Development

  • Assess. Ask the big questions! Take inventory of your ideas on life, gender, spirituality, politics, values, relationships, and more. Identify areas that may be unclear or ill-defined for you.
  • Explore. Engaging in a process of exploration in your area of confusion will either reaffirm long-held practices from your childhood or introduce you to new facets of your developing identity. 
  • Consult. Let someone in on your thoughts. Confide in a close friend, family member, or a counselor to help refine your ideas.
  • Commit. When something feels right, own it! Bring your values into everyday practice.
  • Adjust. Recognize that while some parts of our identity may be constant, others are contextual and may change over time. Changes in our social, cultural, vocational, and familial lives will result in personal changes. Revisit this process in the future as needed.

Other Campus Resources

In addition to Counseling Services, many other campus resources are available that may help you build different facets of your identity.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, come to Counseling Services during business hours. After business hours call Campus Safety (309.341.7979) or call 9-1-1. Click Crisis Sessions for more information.

Knox College

Printed on Friday, December 8, 2023