DIVORCE & SEPARATION COUNSELLING
"By learning to manage partners' emotional reactivity to one another, and in helping children with the emotional distress that accompanies parental conflict, it is possible to work together or individually towards these goals, in joint or individual therapy. Family therapy which includes the children is also frequently of significant assistance to both the adults and the children."
Divorce & Separation
When a marriage or an intimate relationship ends, it can often be a very emotionally painful and even traumatic experience for both partners and children involved. In order to adjust with the process of separation, which can be mentally, physically, and financially draining, a couple who is divorcing may choose to seek counselling. Support for the adults during the separation and divorce process can be provided in a number of ways. Separation and divorce counseling can be helpful in sorting through the many decisions that need to be made, in coping with the strong
emotions elicited by a separation or by the divorce process. Or if the couple have children, they can seek co-parenting support to better communicate and make decisions with regards to their children.
By learning to manage partners' emotional reactivity to one another, and in helping children with the emotional distress that accompanies parental conflict, it is possible to work together or individually towards these goals, in joint or individual therapy. Family therapy which includes the children is also frequently of significant assistance to both the adults and the children.
Co-parenting after separation
When parents decide to divorce, they end their personal relationship as partners, but continue their relationship as parents. While you are going through the process of divorce, it is important to keep the channels of communication open, especially if children are involved. However, at times it may seem impossible to communicate effectively when both partners are processing their own difficult emotions around ending the relationship. Parents who are separated or divorced, or who are in the process of separating, may benefit from co-parent counseling.The objective of co-parenting counselling is to help the whole family move through the separation process as smoothly as possible.
Specific treatment goals vary according to individual needs but generally it will assist in establishing agreements regarding a schedule for when children are to be with each parent, areas for joint decision-making, means and frequency of communication between parents, and any other issues that require attention. Co-parent counselling may also help one or both parents resolve some of their anger or grief related to the ending of the relationship so that both can focus more fully on parenting issues without the interference of issues from the past.
Parents seek co-parent consultation at all stages of post-separation parenting. Some parents come in before separation to explore how to separate in a way that best supports their children’s needs. Others have been co-parenting for a while and want to strengthen their co-parent alliance, improve communication and decision-making, or reduce children’s exposure to unresolved conflict.
Accordingly, the focus in treatment is on the difficulties between the separated parents only as they relate to co-parenting. The goals are to help parents unburden their children by learning to manage their own emotions and anxieties, and help parents strengthen their ability to function in ways that nurture their children’s well-being, regardless of the feelings their former partner triggers in themselves. Through co-parent counseling, parents can learn to free themselves from dysfunctional, emotionally-charged communication and behavior. This is done by helping parents adopt clearly-defined, respectful, and dispassionate approaches to problem-solving and decision-making.
Please note - Co-parent counseling is not for every divorced parent who cannot resolve issues with their child’s other parent. Individuals who cannot tolerate sitting together in a room or who cannot constructively contribute to a dialogue in which issues are identified and resolved may find co-parent counseling frustrating and ineffective. For people in this sort of situation, direct court intervention, court based mediation; custody evaluation, specialized support, and other such arrangements may be more effective both personally and financially.
For more information on whether Co-parenting support is a suitable for your family, please contact us to discuss this. If it is not, we will do our best to direct you in the right direction.
Children and divorce
The process of going through a separation is very different for children and adolescents. Depending on their developmental age and stage, children may often assume responsibility for their parent’s failed marriage. They start acting out at school, their sleep becomes disrupted, and they generally lose focus. This leaves parents feeling helpless and confused as they are trying to process their own feelings around the ending of their relationship. Counselling can help children process feelings of sadness, grief, loss, guilt, and futility that they may have. In our practice, we often hold family or parents and child session, where we coach parents on how to communicate and answer questions that their children may have about the changes that have occurred in the family.
This process often helps put the children’s minds at ease and unburdens them of the many different loads they have been carrying since their parents’ separation. This will also help them repair attachment ruptures that has occurred between parents and children as a result of divorce.
Coping with separation and moving forward
When going through a break up or a legal separation, it is not unusual to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, confused and ashamed—and these feelings can be intense. You also may feel worried about the future. Even if the marriage was unhealthy, venturing into the uncertain can be a frightening experience.
It is important to give yourself time and space to heal and most importantly learn from your experience. If you are feeling unmotivated and need to be in a reflective space allow yourself to feel and to function at a less than optimal level for the time being. You may not be able to be quite as productive on the job or care for others in exactly the way you are used to for a little while. Everyone needs a break after a setback. Take time to heal, regroup, and re-energize.
However, it is important that you don’t get stuck in a state of immobility (what many may call depression). Sharing your feelings with friends and family can help you get through this difficult period. There are support groups available that you can join to talk to others in similar situations. Isolating yourself can raise your stress levels, and get in the way of your work, relationships, and health. You may consider getting professional help, if you feel that time is not the only thing you need to heal and you need support processing your grief. Or you may need support understanding why your relationship didn’t work out so you can make better choices for future relationships.
Please call to discuss how counselling could beneficial as you are going through your separation.