We all know that divorce is painful. It has inherent ups and downs that create significant stress in a person’s life. No two days are alike and each is nuanced in a way unlike the others. And no two divorces are the same, either, even if they ‘look’ that way from the outside.
Some divorces appear to go on forever, with rounds of litigation. These divorces can become extremely expensive, and often seem ridiculous to those from the outside, but from the inside, they are anything but. Couples find themselves fighting over the big things, like houses, cars, and retirement funds, and pets but also things that seem inconsequential as well, like a specific dish, family pictures, or who is picking up a child from sports practice. Other divorces wrap up in a matter of months. The majority of divorces fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
Thus, like divorce itself, divorce counseling is a process. Getting the right information helps both people, either individually or collectively, make informed decisions for the greater good. And the more informed decisions both parties are able to make, the better off both will feel in control about this difficult and challenging time in their life.
So, how do people become informed? Many people seek out divorce counseling (or divorce therapy) as it’s also referred to either individually or as a couple. Either way, both soon realize that their divorce is more complicated than they imagined and that the ripple effects beyond the couple are prevalent. This is because going through a divorce affects more than just the couple. Children, parents of the couple, and extended family can and often are affected by the divorce. So how a couple chooses to process and move through their divorce is key.
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They soon discover that almost all the arguments, hefty and minute, are not only about the big tangible things – the house, car, or children, or other material things – but also about chronic resentment, unresolved anger, and of course, loss. Together, they work to not only uncover the causes of anger, resentment and feelings of loss but also help them move beyond those issues in healthy ways, clarify and help to resolve the ongoing battles all while in a safe and neutral environment. It is here that couples are also able to express themselves in non-threatening, honest exchanges. Through this dialogue, the counselor works to move the couple from contention to negotiation, improving their ability to communicate in a healthy and effective way.
There are many benefits to divorce counseling:
First and critical to therapy outcome is the fit between the individual/couple For therapy or counseling to really work effectively, this is critical. So, if this means, meeting with 2-3 to determine your best fit, so be it. It is your life, time, energy, and money. Make it work for you. Further, the therapist should have specific expertise in divorce, parenting, and adjusting to this major life transition. He or she should also be comfortable and be willing to meet with both parents where children are involved. Having too many professionals working with one family in a divorce can make things that much more complicated in an already complicated situation.
Finally, choose a licensed mental health professional in your state. This person can be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a Psychologist (a person with a Doctorate in Psychology or Clinical Psychology), a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) or a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
And remember, in the end, this is your divorce and your process. Make it work for you. By taking a proactive rather and getting ahead of issues, rather than a reactive approach to divorce and allowing things to unravel in complicated ways (which it will if given the opportunity) couples can create the kind of divorce that instills health and positive emotional well-being for everyone.
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