People may seek therapy to help them decide if they should leave a marriage. Others may seek counseling for help changing from married to single life. One-on-one or couples therapy can help you work toward either of these goals.
Therapy can teach coping skills that may help people work toward a new life. It could help someone have a healthier outlook on their divorce. Therapy for divorce can make people feel encouraged and empowered. It can be a safe place to share feelings and thoughts. This can be helpful during what is often a difficult time.
WHY CHOOSE THERAPY FOR DIVORCE
When a marriage ends, it can be traumatic for both partners. Divorce can be mentally, physically, and financially demanding. To cope with this, a couple who is divorcing may choose to begin therapy. Divorce therapy is often done on a one-on-one basis. A person going through divorce may feel guilt, fear, anxiety, depression and grief.
Working with a therapist can provide a goal and rational perspective. It can arm a person with skills to work through the difficulties of the divorce. Those who use therapy to help them get over a divorce can often benefit. They may come to learn more about themselves. The change divorce brings can be a chance for personal growth and development.
TYPES OF THERAPY FOR DIVORCE
- Individual therapy. Divorce may contribute to certain mental health conditions. These can include depression, anxiety, or other conditions. Some perceive divorce as a personal failure. Therapy can help people work through those feelings and make sense of the divorce. It may help people gain a new perspective. People who have divorced may learn about their needs and dislikes in partnerships. They may gain a deeper knowledge of themselves.
- Couples therapy. Therapy is also available for couples going through a divorce. This type of therapy may facilitate a healthy and constructive divorce. A divorce therapist can act as a sort of mediator. They can set guidelines to ensure the divorce happens with less negative impact. Therapists can also help address pertinent issues. These can include living arrangements, financial obligations, and parenting.
- Family therapy. Therapy can be important for children whose parents are divorcing. Parents may often be consumed with their own feelings during a divorce. They might overlook the emotional state of their children. Divorce can cause children to feel confusion, guilt, loss, pain, or abandonment. Children may not be sure which parent they should “choose,” or be loyal to. They might also worry they are the cause of the divorce. When parents are aggressive with each other, a child may feel even more fearful. A child who hears parents argue about custody might start to feel unwanted. They may worry they are to blame for the separation. Family therapy lets all family members share their feelings about the divorce. This can help everyone process their emotions and adjust to the changes.
MEDIATION FOR DIVORCE
Mediation can be an alternative to discussing a divorce in court. Going to court can be an exhausting and expensive process. Some courts mandate mediation for divorcing couples. But some couples might choose mediation over court on their own. Mediation can be a better option than going to court for some couples. It may take factors without legal significance into account. This can help if there are many factors to consider.
In mediation, couples discuss custody, asset division, and other issues with a mediator. The mediator tries to help the couple reach a legally binding settlement on their own. Mediation may take less time than a divorce litigation. It is often a less costly process. Couples may be able to reach an agreement that satisfies them both. Mediation may also improve their communication for the future. This can make a significant impact if the couple has children.
STRATEGIES FOR COPING WITH DIVORCE
The divorce process can by busy and stressful. It may become crucial to find new ways to handle stress. A few ways to cope with divorce include:
- Guided breathing exercises or meditation. Breathwork and meditation can help increase mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of being aware of and focused on immediate physical sensations around you. It can be useful for calming stress.
- Talking with a trusted friend. When looking for someone to talk to, choose another adult. The stressors that come with divorce can be too much for children to handle.
- Trying a new perspective. Think in terms that make the divorce feel smaller and more manageable.
- Self-care. Take a bubble bath, go for a run, or watch a favorite movie. Self-care can refresh your mind and body. It can also increase your ability to handle stress in difficult times.
CASE EXAMPLES: DIVORCE RECOVERY
- Therapy for grief after divorce. Rudy and Jill are couple in their early thirties with no children. They come in for marriage counseling and are considering separation. Jill wants to save the marriage. Rudy is ready to leave. After two or three sessions, it becomes clear that Rudy has made up his mind. The therapist helps the couple to talk about their relationship openly. Rudy and Jill are both able to learn, grow, and prepare for separation. After the separation, the therapist continues to work with Jill to help her manage her grief. She is able to begin moving forward as a single woman.
- Divorce after a 30-year marriage. Raoul, 59, enters therapy after divorcing his wife of 30 years. Raoul’s children are grown. He has been unhappy for years. He hoped the divorce would make him feel better. He instead finds he is devastated by the loss. His wife, who had not wanted a divorce, now seems to Raoul “to be doing fine.” This confuses him terribly. He even spoke to his wife about reconciling, but she was uninterested. Raoul thinks that is for the best. But he cannot seem to make the adjustment to being single. A therapist helps Raoul identify his fears about being single. The therapist helps him develop skills and a support system. This helps Raoul stay connected with people and feel hopeful about the future. Together, they identify the benefits of marriage Raoul has given up. They also look at the benefits of being single he can now enjoy. The therapist helps Raoul get in touch with his grief and guilt surrounding the divorce. He explores his positive feelings towards his ex-wife. He is able to investigate his fears about being able to stay connected with his children.
- Divorce counseling. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.neilrosenthal.com/marriage-therapy/divorce-counseling
- Stoner, K. (n.d.). Divorce mediation myths. Nolo.com. Retrieved from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/divorce-mediation-myths-30191.html