You might have heard of divorce counseling before. You might think – I’m out of the marriage, why in the world would I want to get counseling now?! Yet, divorce counseling is fairly different from other forms of counseling for couples, and it can indeed bring many benefits for your ex, your children, and yourself. Here is a short insight into what happens in divorce counseling and why you might want to consider getting one.
Divorce Counseling and other forms of counseling – The differences and similarities
You might have the first-hand experience with counseling already. Whether you had or have personal sessions with a therapist to tackle your issues about the divorce or in general, or you and your ex gave couples therapy a try before the marriage dissolved, divorce counseling will prove to be somewhat different than that. Unlike other forms of therapy, its main focus is on getting practical solutions rather than addressing your inner conflicts or doubts.
Marriage counseling is a form of couples therapy that aims to prevent a divorce. They will teach the spouses to communicate their needs and frustrations assertively and to find ways to make the relationship work. Or, in instances in which the separation seems inevitable, the marriage therapist will aim to prepare both partners to go through the process as smoothly as possible, concentrating on the psychology of such major change in life.
On the other hand, divorce counseling is also led by licensed therapists, but the focus now is not on how to help the romantic relationship survive, but how to make it work under new circumstances. In other words, a divorce counselor will help both partners learn from their mistakes and not repeat them, understand the underlying causes of persevering conflicts, and find ways to thrive separately and be respectful towards each other.
What happens in a typical session
To make this more tangible, let’s discuss one typical session. The divorced couple in counseling will usually experience a few recurring problems and conflicts. Let’s say the divorce agreement states that the father will have the children on the weekends, and the mother organizes her time in such a way to have all her leisure time activities then. Yet, the father frequently changes the schedule, making it impossible for the mother to use her time to her liking. This causes numerous fights and the resentment builds up.
In divorce counseling, the counselor will first go through what both ex-partners are thinking, feeling, and doing in this situation. That is, the mother’s and the father’s thoughts will be brought to the surface and analyzed. There are often hidden triggers in cognitive distortions all of us experience, and these will be tackled.
Then, the counselor will focus on making both partners realize the other’s side of the story and thus find relief to their anger and frustration. Also, this will open the path towards finding the best solution for everyone involved. The counselor will guide the couple towards relinquishing the endless analyses over what they think is really going on in their ex’s mind but focus on finding practical, workable solutions for both and for the children as well.
For example, the mother might be wrongly convinced that the father is doing that on purpose to prevent her from meeting someone new. The counselor will help the mother shift her focus from such inadequate thinking to realizing what this belief causes her to feel and do, and how it can be changed so that the tempers don’t get heated each weekend. And the father will also be guided to realize what his actions cause for both the mother and the children. Then they will both state their desired outcome, and a workable solution will be found.
What can divorce counseling do for you?
Whether you were or are seeing a therapist already, divorce counseling can do wonders for your and your ex-partners’ lives and communication. First of all, the healing process after the loss of your life partner and all your shared plans can start with divorce counseling. This can be the perfect place for you to go through the lingering resentment in a safe environment and resolve all the issues that prevent you from moving on.
Moreover, divorce counselor can help you both realize what it is that you were doing wrong and help you prevent repeating those mistakes – both in your new relationship with each other and in your future romances. Finally, divorce counseling will provide a safe and neutral place for you to find practical solutions and avoid never-ending fights and antipathy.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.