A wide range of people know about couples counseling and family therapy. However, there is a useful mental health tool that many people don’t know about: divorce counseling. Divorce counseling is actually helpful in many cases, especially for families with children. Read on to learn all about divorce counseling and how this useful mental health tool improves a difficult time.

Why Do Couples Need Divorce Therapy?

A divorce represents a fairly significant loss – the loss of a relationship. Losing a relationship is more than just ending romantic relationships with an individual. It is the ending of the time and effort put into the relationship. When a person experiences loss, there is a typical mental process to work through.

  1. Denial – Struggling to accept the reality of the divorce. Often accompanied by thoughts such as “this doesn’t feel like real life” or “this feels like a dream.”
  2. Anger – This stage is usually when one or both partners lash out. The lashing out potentially affects one another, their children, or other people in their lives.
  3. Bargaining – Bargaining often takes the form of communication with a higher power, although it can be bargaining with one another. Most commonly, “I will do insert thing here if you promise to hold off on filing for divorce/give me time to make it right/etc.”
  4. Depression – Partners feel a deep sadness and mourning the loss of the relationship.
  5. Acceptance – Everybody adapts to the new normal. This step takes a long time, especially if there are kids involved, because it’s a big adjustment.

To successfully process emotions surrounding loss, the mental health community posits that a person must move through all five steps. A counselor helps people move through those five steps. A divorce counselor helps both people in a relationship move through the five steps in a healthy way without attacking one another. This has the potential to save families a lot of heartache.

What To Expect From Divorce Counseling

Divorce therapists traditionally separate divorce counseling into pre-divorce and post-divorce phases. Pre-divorce counseling usually has a two-pronged focus. First, the counselor will encourage the couple to work through the emotional process described above. Additionally, the therapist helps both spouses determine what they want in the settlement. Compromise is much easier when the unbiased third party is there to mediate.

Post-divorce counseling focuses on helping couples complete working through the stages of loss. Post-divorce therapy typically includes working more individual appointments into the schedule rather than couple’s appointments. The main reason for people to continue post-divorce counseling as a couple is if there are children involved. Counseling offers a safe space for co-parents to vent issues and resolve disputes. All of this is done to lessen the emotional impact of the divorce for all children and adults involved. Counseling helps keep families functional and avoid the negative long-term effects of divorce.