Are Divorce Support Groups Really Helpful?

Updated June 14, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
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Are you going through a divorce? If you are, then you might already know how challenging it can be to do things like stop living with someone you once loved, navigate the expenses and stress of legal battles, and help any children you might have adjust to the life changes that often accompany divorce. Whether you have children or not, you will likely go through a whole lot of new things in the process of getting divorced. That's true even when you're the one who wanted the divorce in the first place. But you don't need to go through a separation and divorce all on your own, because there are in-person and online divorce support groups out there that can help.

Divorce is hard—don't go through it alone

Do you need a divorce?

If you’re not currently divorced but are disillusioned with your marriage, you might want to take some time to ask yourself if divorce is the right thing for you. Before filing for divorce, you may want to think about alternatives, like trying couple’s therapy or talking to your partner to see if improvements can be made in the marriage.  

By talking with your partner, you can figure out if there's a chance of making things work after all. If there is, you may want to give it a chance. See what changes the two of you can make. Maybe you can start taking therapy sessions together or go to a relationship support group to see if you can save your marriage. While therapy is often a good option for couples looking to heal their relationship, it’s typically only effective when both partners are committed to working towards a more satisfying relationship. 

If one or both of you are unwilling to put in the effort that's needed to work through your relationship, you're going to have to face the possibility of divorce. It's going to be difficult for only one of you to try to fix a relationship that both of you are in. You might find yourself giving up a great deal to make the other person happy without getting anything in return. The needs or wants that you have for your relationship would not be met if the other person is unwilling to change but wants you to do so.

The most important thing to remember is that you deserve to be happy. No matter what happens in your life and what is going on with your partner and the rest of your family, even if you have children, it's essential to keep in mind that you should be satisfied with your relationship. You do not deserve to bear the brunt of what's happening in your relationship or to take on all the work necessary. You can walk away if the relationship is taking too much out of you and not giving you back what you need to be happy, because an unfulfilling relationship can drain your mental health and quality of life.

What are divorce support groups?

While many people find it very helpful (and often necessary) to get support from close friends and family during a divorce, they might not have personal experience with divorce or an unbiased perspective. In addition to having the support of your loved ones while you navigate divorce, it can be beneficial to talk to other people who’ve experienced divorce and might have insight or advice you hadn’t considered before. 

A support group consists of a group of peers and a therapist who provides guidance and structure. During sessions, participants may choose to share their challenges, coping mechanisms, thoughts, and feelings as they navigate a problem. Oftentimes, support groups aim at addressing a shared challenge, such as divorce, anger management, substance use disorders, or cancer. 

Divorce is a time of great emotional upheaval, and support groups provide people with a safe place to discuss their thoughts and feelings. Don't underestimate how much of an effect it may have on you and everything that happens in your life. Don't assume that you must go through it all alone. There are plenty of in-person or online divorce support groups out there that can help you through this point in your life. For example, you might be able to find a men’s divorce support group, a co-parenting online support group, or a domestic violence support group (if your relationship ever included abuse) in your local area or available online. 

With divorce recovery support groups, you meet once per week (though they may meet more or less frequently), and each of you gets a chance to talk. You want someone that you know will understand and isn't going to judge you; people that are getting a divorce support divorce and will be able to understand your situation.

There will likely be a psychiatrist or therapist of some type leading the support group sessions. They can help all of you go through some standard discussion topics and exercises, but they'll also help you to have some free expression at the same time. That means you'll each get to say whatever it is that you want to say. This is crucial when you're going through a divorce because you probably have a lot of things that you wish you could explain to someone or that you wish you could tell your ex about. 

Why do you need a divorce support group?

A divorce recovery support group is a great option for many people. When you go through a divorce, it can be very helpful to have a nonjudgemental environment where you’re able to get your thoughts and feelings out. Maybe you really can't explain to your partner what you're experiencing or what you wish they knew. Maybe you've tried, and they just don't get it (that might be why you're getting a divorce in the first place). Talking with others at support groups can help with that. Divorce is a time that is very difficult for most people, and talking about it with a support group can help make everything easier to deal with.

Maybe you don't feel comfortable talking to a bunch of strangers about your deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings. The truth is, many people at a divorce group probably feel the same way because they are also dealing with separation and divorce. They're just as nervous about all of this as you are, but it's therapeutic to go through. Think about it. When you were younger and you had a bad day, what did you do? You probably called up your best friend and spilled your guts, right? You told them all about what happened and how you felt, and in the end, you felt a little better, right?

Group therapy is a lot like that, except these people get what you're going through because they're in the same boat. People can be going through a divorce for many different reasons, but because they're also going through the act of divorce, they can not only listen and serve as your sounding board but understand how you feel and commiserate with you. That's one way to make you feel a little better about the venting that goes on. A divorce recovery group can offer you support and encouragement for the things that you're trying to do to work through your feelings and emotions.

Find a group for divorce recovery

Divorce is hard—don't go through it alone

If you’re looking to find a group that will help you with your divorce recovery, there are several ways you can go about this. Search for support groups in your local area. These are often hosted by churches, hospitals, community centers, or mental health professionals. Many divorce recovery support groups have the advantage of being in person, which you may prefer to online support groups. Support groups led by other divorcees may be beneficial for some, but they may not be able to help as much as a professional can.

If you can’t find a group locally that suits you, online divorce support groups are another option. Look for a group offering meetings that are specifically for divorce recovery. While there may be general groups that address all sorts of relationship-related issues, you may benefit much more from a group that focuses on divorce recovery. A group offering other counseling services at the same time might not be able to provide the same divorce-specific help that you need. Being able to talk with people who are also surviving divorce is much more beneficial for divorce recovery.

Getting individual help

If you're not quite sure about group therapy, then you may want to start out with individual therapy. You can also try using individual or couple’s therapy alongside group therapy. 

If you’re interested in trying individual or couple’s therapy, you can check out an online therapy platform like Regain. They offer online psychotherapy services from licensed therapists, which allow you to access therapy services from the comfort of your home. Many people find that it’s easier to discuss sensitive subjects like divorce in an online setting because they feel more in-control of the process. Additionally, scheduling online sessions can be easier, and it’s often more affordable than in-person therapy.  

Online support has helped many individuals cope with going through a divorce, along with many other mental health challenges. Research has found that online therapy, and specifically cognitive behavioral therapy, can be just as effective as in-person therapy. With online therapy, you can find help whether you're located in a large, urban area or a small, rural area.

Takeaway

No matter what you decide to do, it's important that you at least look at your options. Getting therapy after a divorce can be an important step and may help you move on with your life. Even those who filed for the divorce themselves will often have second thoughts or will experience emotions that they need to process. By attending therapy, you can work through those things so you're able to move on with whatever you have planned next. 

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