I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t couples counseling supposed to prevent divorce?”
My response to that would be: “Only if that is truly what both partners want.”
Many times both partners enter therapy with very different goals. Often, they do not even realize this. Most of the time, the first few sessions of therapy are spent clarifying this for both partners. Sometimes through this process, both partners realize they want to make things work. Other times, they realize that they both want out, or that one partner wants out while the other does not.
So why divorce counseling?
If the marriage is over, isn’t a lawyer needed rather than a counselor? While it’s true lawyers might be needed to help partners navigate the legal matters related to a divorce, a counselor is helpful in guiding divorcing partners through the interpersonal and emotional dynamics of a divorce.
This is even more advantageous when children are involved.
I’d be willing to wager that you have heard at least once that children from divorced families face a number of difficulties ranging from trouble in school to difficulties with their own romantic relationships in adulthood.
In fact, while divorce is never easy on children, it is not divorce itself that causes most problems for children.
It is the parental conflict that follows that is most damaging. The more conflict between parents, the more adverse the effects are upon the children.
The goals of divorce counseling are to help parents resolve some of the emotions surrounding the divorce and relationship, help facilitate parent communication, and educate parents on how to discuss the divorce with their children and what to avoid. This not only helps parents transition through the process more easily but it also makes the divorce less stressful on children.
In the end, if you have children and you are divorcing, you will still be in one another’s lives for the rest of your lives. Why not make it so you can be in the same room together or better yet, carry a polite and respectful conversation? Your kids will thank you.
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, DBT Therapist, and BHIOP Facilitator
Andres Duran, LPCC, is a clinical mental health counselor and clinical supervisor with Sage Neuroscience Center. He focuses his clinical work on the intersection of behaviorism and mindfulness striving to bring compassion and change to the individuals and couples he works with. He is endlessly curious, an avid reader, and a world traveler