Ending your marriage will generate emotional challenges that may require learning the skills of how to cope with the difficult mental, physical and financial process of uncoupling.
There are various forms to conduct therapy sessions for divorcing people: (a) on an individual basis, (b) family sessions with your children and yourself or with your ex-spouse, (c) a couple wishing to work together in a healthy, constructive manner.
As an individual who is going through divorce you can face many challenges, from experiencing uneasy feelings (e.g. guilt, fear, anxiety, anger, blame, shame, fragmenting, depression, grief, sadness, resentment, disbelief, shock, etc) to facing endless changes. Therefore seeing a therapist can help you:
(a) Gain a rational perspective;
(b) Equip you with the necessary skills to go through this challenging time;
(c) Process and let go of negative emotions;
(d) Gain better understanding on the dynamics that got you to the point of divorce;
(e) Teach you how to help your children;
(f) Learn to better communicate with your ex-spouse;
(g) Gain coping skills;
(h) Create a brighter future.
Generally anyone who participates in therapy during uneasy times will benefit, not only by learning more about themselves, but also by shifting their perception during this life transition, and see it as an opportunity for growth with a possible brighter future.
If a couple chooses to go to a therapist together, they can work on anything they wish to resolve. Nevertheless, they can also utilize the mental health professional to act as a type of mediator to help set guidelines to ensure minimal hostility and emotional damage. The therapist can help resolve other issues like living arrangements, financial obligations and parenting responsibilities.
In cases where children are involved, it is extremely important to take them to therapy. During a divorce, parents are consumed with their own feelings, and the children’s emotional state is often overlooked. Supporting evidence shows that children of divorcing parents tend to experience loss, guilt, hurt, pain, abandonment and overwhelming confusion. They worry that they are the cause of the divorce and are torn in their loyalty to both parents. In cases that parents are aggressive with each other, the children tend to develop fear that they are to blame for their parents’ disharmony.
Remember that adjusting to any kind of change takes time. The therapist can help you learn how to enter this new phase in your life with minimal struggle.
Here are examples of real cases:
Case Example 1
Sharona and Ben, in their late 20’s and early 30’s, childless, came to a split in their marriage. The wife demanded a divorce, the husband wanted to work it out. They were confused about their marriage, after 2 years, things had started to crumble. They could not stop disagreeing on things and constantly argued. Ben wanted to save the marriage; Sharona was not sure.
After 4-5 sessions, it had become clear to everyone that they had married for the wrong reasons, and that their needs, expectations, love language, values, desires and life perceptions were totally different. They did not have enough substance or commitment to each other to carry the marriage through. In their therapy sessions, they had learn to talk about their relationship openly in a way that helped them both grow, and prepare for separation.
After the separation took place, Ben desired to receive more help in dealing with his hurt, pain, disappointment and grief, so he would be able to leave his marriage behind and move forward with his life.
Case Example 2
Chris and Carole entered therapy after 5 years of marriage. Chris has a grown up daughter, and a toddler with his current wife, Carole. They have agreed that getting a divorce would be the best solution to their unhappy marriage. They were both devout Christians and getting divorced was not in alignment with their spiritual beliefs. They felt confused and in a limbo. Their attorney suggested that seeking therapy would be something for them to consider before they decide on a divorce.
During the course of their therapy we examined their relationship and identified the specific elements that made both of them unhappy in the marriage. When they had learned about the causes of their unhappy marriage, the possibility of saving it opened up for them. After exploring what it entails, they made a commitment to work on rebuilding their relationship before separating. As we had progressed with therapy they had started to move toward a happier connection and managed to save their marriage.
It is crucial for parents and children to get the necessary help for all of the issues they face, to ensure a smoother transition in moving forward in a healthy and constructive manner.
Dr. Ronit Lami is an internationally renowned psychologist. Her services include Consulting, Coaching, Affluenza evaluation and Expert witness. She has over 18 years of experience helping your clients through the hardships of divorce. She can be reached at (310) 626-0218, or visit her website www.universalinsight.net.