Divorce Counseling: What To Expect And Are There Benefits?
Updated July 12, 2019
People often think about going to Couples Counseling when they are trying to save a marriage. However, if you are making the decision to divorce or have already decided, then you can also attend a Couples Counselor to participate in Divorce Counseling.
You may not have heard of Divorce Counseling. However, many divorcing couples are choosing to use this resource to help them transition through the divorce. It is a great resource to help people deal with a sometimes stressful and certainly life-changing event. It is also helpful for people who have already started families and who may need help figuring out how to co-parent after the divorce.
Overall, Divorce Counseling can help people deal with all the relationship, emotional, legal, and logistical changes associated with the process of and outcomes of divorce. Learn more about what to expect during divorce and what to expect from Divorce Counseling, if you seek out this helpful service:
What To Expect During The Process Of Divorce
In many ways, divorce can feel like a loss, similar to losing a loved one to death. It is the end of a relationship, and certainly, you will be moving apart from a person that probably played a big part of your life. As with other losses, people tend to move through stages of grief about the divorce. These stages tend to follow a pattern of phases, although everyone's experience may be different. The typical stages that you might experience as you go through the process of divorce include:
- Denial - At first you may have a hard time accepting the situation. You may not accept the divorce as a fact, perhaps believing that things will be okay, and the relationship will continue.
- Pain And Uncertainty - Once the denial ends, and you start to realize the divorce is happening, you may feel more sadness and pain. You are in mourning about the end of the relationship. If the other party initiated the divorce, you might also be feeling hurt with a sense of rejection. You may also feel uncertain about your future and perhaps even afraid or anxious.
- Anger - At some point those feelings of sadness and fear may lead to feelings of anger. You may be angry at your ex. You may also be angry at other people in your life. At this time, you could show your negative emotions, and that may hurt your other relationships and even your children. You may also feel anger from your ex and children about the situation.
- Bargaining - At some point you may also enter a stage where you want to change the situation. You may be feeling a sense of regret at how things are. You may seek to bargain away the divorce to seemingly correct the situation. However, bargaining is unlikely to be successful.
- Guilt And Depression - As the bargaining is not successful, you may blame yourself more and more for the situation. You may look back on 'mistakes' and feel bad about them. As you progress through these stages, some intense sadness or even depression can be normal. However, if it becomes excessive, then it could start to impair your functioning. This could become problematic if you are unable to attend to work and childcare.
- Acceptance - Eventually you will accept the fact that your marriage is ending. You may still have some sadness, but you feel better about it and are more ready to move forward with your life.
For some, getting through these stages can be challenging, and it can be hard to figure out exactly how you will move on with your life. In these cases, you might seek Divorce Counseling. Sometimes, when both parties are struggling, they will enter that counseling together to work through the process.
What To Expect From Divorce Counseling
Some people may be hesitant to attend Divorce Counseling, for fear that the counselor may try to push them back together into a relationship or that the therapist may judge them. However, this is not the case. Divorce Counselors are trained to listen without bias and be empathetic towards people in whatever situation they are in. They are also trained to help people reach the goals they want to reach. So, if you are seeking the counseling during a divorce, they will not push you to revisit the relationship.
In fact, a Divorce Counselor can help guide both parties through the process of the divorce, including the logistics, decision making, and the emotional results of the loss of the relationship. They can also help the parties develop the tools and skills needed to redefine their relationship and have healthy interactions after the divorce is finalized. A focus may be on co-parenting; however, each party can also become more able to lead their own successful and fulfilling life after the divorce.
Pre- and Post-Divorce Counseling
Divorce counseling is sometimes divided between Pre-Divorce and Post-Divorce Counseling. Pre-Divorce Counseling can be used in many ways. Some couples may choose to attend it as they are finalizing their decision to divorce. The counselor can help both parties discuss, in civil terms, where they are at and what they want. Pre-Divorce Counseling can also help couples learn how they will communicate during the process of the divorce. The goal is for both parties to be able to be civil with one another.
Pre-Divorce Counseling is very helpful for couples that have children. There can be a lot of concern about how the divorce will affect the family. Counselors can help divorcing couples discuss and decide when to inform the children about the divorce and how they will explain it to them. This can help to reduce the potentially traumatic effects that divorce can sometimes have on children.
Aside from just figuring out how to inform the children, Pre-Divorce Counseling can also help couples figure out how they will tell other family members, friends, and other interested parties. Pre-Divorce Counseling can also help couples sort out other logistics, such as if they share a business or property. Even more, the process will help the parties discuss the feelings and emotions they may be having. It can teach each party coping skills that can be used individually or in interactions with one another.
The other option is Post-Divorce Counseling; although, it can be used in addition to Pre-Divorce Counseling. Most often, people seek this out when they have been struggling with the process of divorce and wanted to make the process easier. After all, the process of divorce is the end of a long-term relationship. It can be difficult for two people to redefine what they have been into what they will be. There are also often lots of emotions for each party to sort through and not direct at each other.
If the two parties have been struggling and perhaps it has even affected their ability to co-parent, then Post-Divorce Counseling can give a neutral space with a trained counselor, where the parties can talk and improve the situation. It also does give a time for the parties to discuss their feelings. This process can help the parties improve their communication, interact more civilly, and co-parent better.
It should be noted that Pre- and Post- Divorce Counseling can both be done as a pair or individually. In some cases, the two divorcing parties may need that space to discuss. Other times, one or both parties may need to use counseling to talk through their emotions and figure out their identity after the divorce. This can be especially true for divorced individuals after very long-term relationships.
Signs You Need Divorce Counseling
Many people can get through a divorce on their own. This may be especially true if both parties were open and accepted of the divorce and can continue communicating well. However, for some couples, the situation can become contentious, and in those cases, Divorce Counseling becomes helpful. If you find that you are unable to get along for the sake of co-parenting, that is another sign to seek help.
For individuals, there are also many signs that you may need to pursue Divorce Counseling. If you are going through a divorce and you find yourself overwhelmed by sadness, that is certainly a sign to seek support through counseling. Other signs and symptoms that you may need help include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Poor Concentration
- Disinterest in activities
- Low Appetite
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- A sense of self-loathing
- Feeling unworthy
- Isolating or withdrawing
- Strong or limited emotions
- Debilitating depression
- Excessive Anxiety
- Thoughts of Suicide
If you notice these symptoms in yourself or your ex (or another person you care about, who happens to be going through a divorce), it is important to seek help through counseling to ease the process.
Divorce Counseling offers many benefits for any person or former couple going through a divorce. It can help two people work through a difficult situation, with a neutral third party guiding them through the process. It can help any individual, who may be struggling with the emotional effects of this change. Divorce Counselors can help people through discussion, teaching coping skills, improving self-care, guiding in the development of a new life plan, and much more.