Divorce can be one of the most emotionally difficult things a person can go through. When exchanging vows and creating a life together, couples often commit themselves to a notion of “forever”. When that idea is called into question or irreparably broken by divorce, it can leave an individual shaken and unsure of the future. A collaborative divorce, wherein former partners work together to amicably separate, includes a mental health professional as part of the process. This has clearly benefited divorcing partners. Litigated divorce, however, does not require participants to speak to a therapist. Here’s what you need to know about whether you should get a therapist while divorcing.
Avoid Tunnel Vision
While in the midst of the divorce, it can be hard to focus on the many tomorrows that will occur post-divorce. The future is a blurry concept obscured by the back and forth of the courtroom and what may feel like endless documents. Too often, divorcing couples get caught up in the act of divorcing or in replaying past hurts. With the right help, this can be avoided.
Crafting a post-divorce life starts during your divorce. After all, the divorce documents can have a huge impact on your income and your time commitments. Avoiding tunnel vision can help you focus on the future while in the present, allowing you to ensure that your needs will be met after the divorce.
If you are having trouble seeing beyond your divorce or are feeling depressed, guilty, or anxious because of your divorce, therapy may help you unpack those emotions so you can begin to move past your former relationship and start planning for the future in a way that is useful and healthy.
Heal Past Wounds
A divorce isn’t just a painful event, it’s often the culmination of many painful events or slights that have built up over time. In order to move beyond the blame game—whether one is blaming oneself or their former partner—it’s important to recognize what we have control of and what we don’t. Evaluating past wounds and learning to make the changes necessary to lead a fulfilling life moving forward can be difficult alone, especially when we rely only on our own introspection to affect change. Seeking a therapist while divorcing can help bring closure and provide an individual with tools for dealing with emotional baggage. They can help you visualize your own mistakes as well as point out when you’re blaming yourself too much. In a therapist’s office, this can be done in a more constructive manner than in a gabfest with pals. A therapist can function as a neutral observer who can help provide you with feedback that others may not be willing to share.
Learn New Habits and Techniques
Sometimes, the communication habits (or lack of communication habits) we nurtured during our marriages can create more problems during a divorce or can lead to issues in other relationships down the line. Speaking with a trained mental health professional can help us pinpoint negative habits, self-destructive thoughts, and other issues that only serve to tear us down. In addition, a therapist can provide us with alternative coping mechanisms to help us move forward. This can include new methods for engaging our former spouses or affirmations to help us curb negative self-talk.
What About a Children’s Therapist?
You’re not the only one dealing with pain and confusion. If you’re a parent, you may want to consider placing your child or children in therapy to help them deal with their emotions and make sense of the events happening in their lives.
During a collaborative divorce, children may be assigned a child specialist that helps bring their concerns to the table and provides them with a voice. This can help parents keep their children’s best interest in mind as they move forward and decide such things as time sharing.
The child specialist role can provide support to children as they grapple with the idea of having two homes and learn new ways of being with their parents. Similarly, a child therapist can help a child throughout a divorce as they come to terms with any hurt, confusion, or fear that they feel.
Children are resilient beings. Providing them with the support they need during a time of crisis can help ensure they learn to vocalize their needs and share their opinions with you. If you do not have a collaborative divorce or choose not to utilize a Child Specialist, your children may still benefit from seeing a child therapist who specializes in divorce.
Mental Health Stigma
Sometimes people fail to seek therapy because they believe speaking with a therapist somehow makes them “weak” or “crazy.” They may think of psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists derisively or believe that only someone with something “really wrong” should seek professional health.
These unfortunate stigmas have attached themselves to mental health and it’s really quite a disservice that they persist. Regardless of who we are, man or woman, CEO or stay-at-home dad, therapy can have benefits for just about everyone. Therapy is a way of gaining introspection without isolation. For many, being seen and heard by a professional can be validating as well as instructive. While we may feel we can handle things alone, when you are part of a family—even one going through a divorce—you are never truly alone. Our actions and behaviors affect those around us. Ignoring mental health stigmas and taking time to care for oneself by seeking the advice of a mental health professional can provide support through what is undoubtedly one of the most trying and traumatic experiences people face.
Speaking to a Divorce Attorney
A skilled Tampa divorce attorney understands the effect this upheaval can have on her clients. Some divorce lawyers can even offer their clients names of reputable therapists who specialize in divorce.
While collaborative divorce makes use of mental health professionals as part of the divorce process, other divorces do not require that participants seek any form of therapy or assistance. Ultimately, the choice is up to each individual party unless the court mandates therapeutic intervention. However, therapy can provide divorcing parties with a sounding board, a shoulder on which to lean, and tools for working through emotional hurt. There are no negatives for seeking therapy while divorcing as everything said to one’s therapist is protected by doctor-patient confidentiality.
If you are wondering whether you should speak to a therapist while divorcing, chances are, the answer is yes. As with many things, therapy is what one makes of it. Those willing to commit to seeking help and using the tools they learn to better themselves and challenge themselves will gain more than those resistant to the notion of seeking help or of taking advice on board. Determining where you fall on that spectrum can help you make the most of any help or advice you receive.
If you’re still in the process of deciding whether or not a divorce is the right decision for you, consider consulting with a knowledgeable Tampa divorce attorney to learn more about the different types of divorce and which method may be most appropriate for your situation. A free consultation can help provide you with the information you need to take your next steps.