How Hiring a Therapist Can Have A Profound Effect On The Resolution Of Your Divorce Case
Obviously going through an unexpected or difficult divorce can be one of the most stressful experiences in an individual’s life. While many clients can navigate the process unassisted without professional help, others really cannot. Some people think that they can talk with family members or friends to help pull them through. Typically, however, those who are deeply distressed really need professional help by a therapist to guide them through the entire process and transition to their life post-divorce. Many people view having a therapist or counselor as a sign of weakness. It certainly is not. My experience as a divorce attorney for over 35 years is that when the attorney and therapist work together, it can often eliminate years of paralysis for a client.
In thinking through this and in preparation of writing this blog article, I have tried to list some of the areas that the therapist can help with. Some of those include:
- Helping Make the Decision. Probably most people who seek therapists, at the time they get to see the divorce lawyer, have already determined whether or not they are going to stay together or divorce. Therapy, though, can be very beneficial in helping individuals explore options and logically evaluate the issues in the marriage and possible resolution of those problems. Obtaining a therapist who is professionally trained to study and deal with these issues can make a huge difference for the client in dealing with the transition to post-married life.
- Cost Savings. Most experienced family law and divorce attorneys charge a much higher hourly rate than do therapists or psychologists. In addition, the attorney is trained to deal with the legal ramifications of separating and dividing an individual’s assets and liabilities, support issues, and other attendant divorce-related matters. Generally, we do our best trying to deal with emotional concerns but that is not our area of expertise. Conserving a lawyer’s time by focusing in on the legal issues will end up reducing the attorney fees considerably so long as you have an experienced family and divorce therapist or counselor to help address the emotional items.
- Obtaining Advice Regarding Children and Family. Oftentimes, clients are having extreme difficulty in trying to decide how to deal with their unhappiness and balance their responsibilities to their children and extended family members. Therapists can do extremely important work in this area to help create appropriate boundaries and to assist with difficult conversations that you will no doubt experience with others. Tips on talking to the children about divorce are typically offered by psychologists that can be very helpful to couples in this process.
- What Went Wrong? An individual going through a divorce may feel anger, frustration and confusion. Sorting through those emotions can be most often best accomplished with professional therapeutic help. After the commitment to remain married for life is irretrievably broken, it is natural to want to assess what had occurred, if for no other reason, to hopefully prevent it from reoccurring in the future. Experienced family and divorce counselors can be of enormous value in this area, to help an individual obtain needed closure.
- Improving Communication and Coping Skills. The therapist can assist a spouse to learn new coping skills for dealing with their child’s father or mother, or developing better communication mechanisms. While the marriage may be ending, the necessity to continue to communicate and deal with an Ex may continue for a very long time after the divorce. Getting off to the right start and learning new approaches and communication skills is important.
- Divorce Transition. Some couples that start off in marriage counseling learn along the way that keeping the marriage together either doesn’t make sense or is ultimately not possible. Continued counseling certainly may make sense to change the focus of the therapy from staying together to divorce transition planning. The couple may well have been working hard to stay together and may be ill-prepared to truly coordinate efforts or separately plan for what their life may well be like after the divorce. Advanced planning for divorce from an emotional standpoint makes as much sense as it does from a financial side. While finances are certainly important (and your divorce lawyer will be focusing on those), the emotional side is even more critically important. Don’t overlook this vital area!
A Divorce Lawyer Can Provide You With Several Recommendations For A Valuable Therapist
Every divorce case is different. The subtle fact variations and difference in the Court or the Judge can have massive implications. What either your cousin or coworker tell you about their case will most likely have little benefit and value as it relates to your situation. While these individuals are well-intentioned and are trying to be supportive, the best approach that most attorneys will recommend is to get the professionals involved to help you through the process. The therapist plays a valuable role. Hiring a therapist as part of your divorce team can have a profound effect on the resolution of the divorce case as well as the individual’s ability to move forward quickly and in a healthy manner after the divorce. Most likely, your divorce lawyer can provide several recommendations for a therapist.
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.