Before a married couple starts browsing the internet for an attorney, many couples will make an attempt at marital counseling. Couples commonly make this last-ditch effort before determining whether the marriage is salvageable. However, it frequently seems as though one spouse enters the therapist’s office with more enthusiasm than the other.
Many couples may now benefit from a relatively new approach to counseling, which is generally popular among couples who have already made the decision to pursue a divorce. This type of therapy is known as divorce counseling, and it can help you make significant improvements in your relationship as you move forward with your divorce.
Is divorce therapy right for you? And what exactly is it? In the following sections, find some answers about this new approach.
What Is Divorce Counseling?
Traditional therapy typically tries to pinpoint the underlying emotions present in the relationship and treat the subsequent tensions. Divorce counseling is slightly different, in that many licensed practitioners do not focus on this aspect of the split at all. Instead, the primary objective of divorce counseling is to establish a few healthy ground rules for communication before moving forward, even as your relationship status changes. A divorce therapist can help create a new relationship between spouses, so they can remain amicable.
When should you consider enlisting the help of a divorce therapist? Many couples turn to this practice when the relationship is heading toward divorce, and communication has become overly hostile, angry, bitter, or resentful. When there are children involved, it can be especially helpful to relieve some of the tension in the home environment. Then you can help them model positive, healthy communication skills.
Ultimately, it is most useful for couples who need some extra assistance developing a set of rules during their divorce. Which topics can and cannot be discussed, and how should those topics be addressed?
5 Types of Couples Who Can Benefit from Divorce Counseling
Divorce counseling can certainly be helpful for everyone, but certain types of couples may find more benefits from this service than others. These couples need more help working on their communication skills and strategies, in order to turn an amicable divorce into a reality.
This type of counseling could be most advantageous in these five situations:
1) Couples who are attempting to live in the marital home together during their separation
There are many reasons why couples attempt to live together during their separation, but saving money tends to top the list. Sharing living expenses definitely helps save money. However, this situation can be extremely challenging if you cannot communicate well with each other.
If you must learn to temporarily share the space, then you will need to set ground rules for your new relationship. These rules can include basic things like defining the ways that you will handle daily household responsibilities and guests.
Divorce counseling can give you the framework you need to work through some of these daily issues with an objective third party. More importantly, it can give you the communication skills you need to keep fine-tuning your new living situation until it pleases both parties. This counseling should be considered an essential service, which will help you manage a situation that could be extremely challenging.
2) Couples with children
Parents know just how influential their own behavior can be on their children. To set a good example for the kids and reduce their stress levels, they must learn to have great communication skills. If you constantly bicker and fight in front of your children, you could provoke serious anxiety and negative responses from your child. Of course, having good communication skills can also help you arrange practical matters, such as weekend visitations and holiday visits.
When you sign up for divorce counseling, you and your spouse need to prioritize amicable communication in front of your children. You should work on this skill before you move onto anything else. Remember to talk with your divorce therapist about incorporating your children into some of the sessions. It might be a great idea to openly discuss your new family dynamics with everyone involved.
3) Couples who spend more time arguing than having productive conversations
By the time you file for divorce, you may not have much left to say to your spouse. Many couples are so busy arguing over the details of their settlement that they do not have any time left for productive conversations.
Divorce counseling could give you the communication skills you need to have meaningful discussions and actually accomplish things. When you are able to openly and appropriately communicate with one another, it can help you save money on mediation costs and attorney’s fees. If you can come to a resolution sooner, it could also lead to a faster divorce.
4) Couples who want an inexpensive divorce via mediation
The key to successful mediation is great communication between you and your spouse. Because divorce counseling can help you implement better strategies, you will be able to more openly and effectively communicate during negotiations.
In fact, you may even be able to work out many of the details on your own, without the help of a professional mediator. With divorce counseling in place, an objective third party can intervene if the debate becomes overly heated.
5) Couples who do not both believe in the divorce
Sometimes, a divorce is initiated by one spouse, even though the other does not believe that the split is truly necessary. In this scenario, divorce counseling is essential because it can help set ground rules to avoid blame games, arguments, and debates about the viability of the marriage. Therapy can set the stage for more productive conversations, which are relevant as you move into the divorce process.
Can You Do It Alone?
Some types of divorce counseling are designed to help set up healthy guidelines for a future friendship with your spouse. However, you can work through divorce counseling on your own. Many individuals find that dealing with the emotional repercussions of divorce can be overwhelming, so divorce therapy can give you a safe space to process your feelings, thoughts, and fears about your newly single life.
Having space to deal with your emotions can help you begin the process of emotional healing. Since some of the stress can be relieved by having a constructive outlet for your emotions, you can focus on the more important things at hand with a greater degree of clarity. Divorce is bound to be a stressful process, but it will feel less burdensome if you have the ability to appropriately process your feelings.
Divorce Counseling for Kids
You may want to consider investigating divorce counseling as an option for your children if they are being negatively affected by the circumstances.
Witnessing a divorce can be traumatic for children, no matter how old they are. It signifies the loss of their normal household, as well as a significant decrease in the time spent with at least one of their parents. When a divorce occurs, many adjustments must be made, including household rules and routines. For children, the major changes caused by a divorce can induce a great deal of anxiety, so they must learn how to navigate their new households.
All of these life changes can provoke different responses in children, which are based on their temperaments and personalities. For example, some children might act out at school, which could include with temper tantrums and constant bickering. Others might withdraw into themselves, refusing to speak or share their feelings with parents, friends, and other trusted adults. There is no wrong response to a major life change, but your child may need more help to process what he or she is going through.
Divorce counseling can be an excellent way to help your children work through their feelings in a safe, comforting environment. Then they will have a place where they can express themselves, learn better communication strategies, and share those feelings with their parents in healthy ways.
However, they also have an additional layer of support from a therapist, who understands exactly what they are going through. In turn, that therapist can offer them different coping strategies to use, which will replace their current, unhealthy behavior.
The therapist may also provide feedback for the parent, so they can better help their child. This stage is essential for parents who are not quite sure what to do for their children when they act out or withdraw. Sometimes, they need help setting up new boundaries and rules, so their children can feel comfortable in their new home. All of these things work together to reduce the stress that many children feel when a divorce occurs.
If you are struggling with your child during a divorce, therapy could become essential.
What Should You Look for in a Divorce Therapist?
Therapists cannot and should not advertise that they are qualified to provide divorce counseling unless they are. However, you should still check any therapist’s qualifications before you enlist his or her help.
You should also consider whether he or she is going to be the right fit for you, your spouse, or your children. Consider his or her personality, friendliness, and overall professionalism.
A divorce therapist should at least have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, or a related field. Better, more qualified divorce therapists frequently pursue higher degrees and additional certifications, classes, and continuing education, in order to learn as much as they can about their respective fields of expertise.
Consider finding a divorce therapist who is accredited by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. This organization offers strict guidelines about the qualifications for labeling oneself as a divorce therapist. They also require all applicants to pass a state or national licensing exam, in order to ensure they understand the best practices in their fields.
In addition, potential clients should ask about a divorce therapist’s clinical experience. You want to ensure that he or she has had a practice in some type of family counseling (preferably divorce or couples). The more experience and familiarity a therapist has with his or her specialization, the better equipped he or she will be to help you manage the situation at hand.
What Does Divorce Therapy Cost?
The actual cost of a session will vary, based on the experience of the clinician, your location, and the length of the session. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 for a fifty-minute or hour-long session. This variation in price is often due to the experience of the therapist. More credentials equal higher costs, but they also signify greater expertise.
Deciding on Divorce Counseling
Once you and your spouse have come to the conclusion that a divorce is imminent, counseling may be a great first step. It can help you establish ground rules for ongoing communication with one another, or give you space to process your emotions on your own.
The important thing about pursuing this type of counseling is to ensure that you are hiring the right divorce therapist. Without someone who has experience and training, you may not see the full benefits of this type of program. When selecting the approach and therapist for your unique situation, make sure you take your time, so you can glean the most effective healing time and move forward in the most productive way.