Starting the process of divorce can be a challenging step to take. Some families choose to put off filing for divorce until after the holidays or a celebratory life event to delay the misery. However, it is possible to navigate divorce in a minimally invasive way for the couple and the children. Divorce counseling is a great way to discuss divorce as a couple with a mental health expert to guide you.
What Is Divorce Counseling?
Divorce counseling can start pre-divorce when you meet with a trained divorced counselor to discuss their intentions. The counselor will guide you and your spouse through the divorce. They will provide tools along the way to help ease the burden on the children, in-laws, friends, and even pets. When the couple meets with a divorce counselor, they share a goal of navigating the divorce in a civilized matter.
What Benefits Will Counseling Offer?
You will find there are many benefits of divorce counseling. Communication is vital to the process, and meeting with a therapist creates a safe place for both sides of the couple.
The counselor can guide you to:
- Decide if Divorce Is the Best Option: Part of the pre-divorce counseling includes the question of whether the marriage should dissolve. You can discuss the conflicts and matters that are leading you toward divorce. Sometimes these issues can be resolved with the help of a counselor.
- Healthily Communicate: Tools for communication, including listening to one another and not putting words in the other’s mouth, are vital in the divorce process.
- Avoid Blaming, Name-Calling, or Disrespecting Spouse: The safe space of the therapist’s office will include boundaries barring negativity and disrespect toward one another. When you develop a pattern of speaking that is free from blame and name-calling, you can use that communication in everyday life with your ex.
- Tell Your Children the News in a Productive, Loving Way: Many people seek pre-divorce counseling. They do so to learn how to share the divorce news with their children in the best way possible. A divorce counselor can learn about your children and offer suggestions and advice for telling them about the separation.
- Cope with Frustrating Emotions: You cannot avoid feelings of frustration altogether during a divorce. However, the counselor can provide you with coping mechanisms to talk yourself down from anger or frustration so that you can focus on remaining respectful and communicative with your ex-spouse.
- Improve Your Self-Esteem: Post-divorce counseling can include sessions with your spouse but also solo sessions. After spending years in a couple, you may find it challenging to find where you stand once you are single again. The therapist can help you build your self-esteem and find the assurance that you are worthy of love.
- Reconcile Negative Feelings Toward Your Ex: It is imperative for those who have to co-parent with their spouse to resolve their negative feelings toward their ex. You don’t want to constantly complain in front of the kids and affect their relationship with their mom or dad.
How to Know if You Need Divorce Counseling
While divorce is a struggle for everyone, some people are able to manage their emotions and find a healthy balance as they go through it. So what are some signs that you may need divorce counseling?
- Social Isolation: When you avoid talking with friends and stop attending social gatherings because you think you are a failure or are afraid of being judged, it is time to meet with a therapist. You will find that everyone has their struggles and most people want to cheer you up more than tear you down. Confiding and leaning on friends and family is the best thing you can do during a divorce.
- Inability to Sleep at Night: Tossing and turning through the night bleeds into your everyday functions, causing you to be quick to anger and forget vital tasks. Protect your sleep and get help if you struggle to get a good night’s sleep.
- Feelings of Worthlessness: When you go back to being single, it may be easy to feel like no one will ever love you again. A counselor will help you celebrate your worth and the beauty that you have to offer the world.
- Excessive Worry: If you have increased anxiety about things you cannot control through the divorce, it can keep you from living your life and showing up for the people you love.
- Spouts of Anger: Depression and frustration surrounding the divorce can lead to outbursts of anger in other areas of your life that are unrelated.
- Disinterest in Hobbies: If you find yourself uninterested in your weekly tennis games or walks around the neighborhood, it could be a sign of depression. Ask for help and find your joy in the small things again.
- Substantial Weight Loss or Weight Gain: Extreme stress can cause weight loss or weight gain, depending on how you cope. A therapist can help you find healthy coping mechanisms through this stressful time.
- Chronic Depression: All of these feelings combined with not wanting to get out of bed, disengaging with your children or co-workers, and oversleeping can all be signs of depression. Even if you cut yourself slack during the divorce, don’t overlook the serious red flags showing that you may need more help than you think.
In the middle of a tumultuous divorce that is tearing you apart, the best thing to do is to ask for help. Meeting with a counselor can help you sort your feelings out to feel alive and vibrant again. Do not hesitate to take the first step toward healing from your separation.
The first step to getting the help that you need is asking for it. Divorce doesn’t have to be unbearable. You can make the process the healthiest possible for everyone involved. If you need mental health support, contact our experienced team at Lifeworks Counseling Center to learn more about available treatments.