By RON RICE, PHD, Clinical Psychologist
When I think about the concept of divorce counseling, I think it is important to define what I mean by this term. There are two specific situations that have come to my attention over 25 years of being a Clinical Psychologist:
1. Coping with the Stress of a Divorce
There are a variety of stressors that occur when an individual is in the process of a divorce. Such problems include issues of negotiating a fair and reasonable settlement, child custody, financial uncertainty, living with my spouse prior to the final divorce, etc. Some people have major difficulty dealing with these sources of stress. Others feel sadness, anger, and hurtfulness. Counseling is an excellent way to guide people to cope with these problems in the most constructive and mature manner. Learning new responses to the source of stress is a first step toward more constructive problem resolution and a better life in the future.
2. Post-Divorce Problems
After a divorce is completed, couples often continue to have problems regarding unresolved anger, grief over the divorce, ambivalence about the decision to get divorced, issues of parenting time, disagreements about different styles of parenting, how to deal with special circumstances, etc. Here too, counseling can assist couples in working together in terms of what is in the best interest of children. As a parenting time coordinator for the Oakland County Friend of the Court, I have provided counseling to many couples. Sometimes, couples are referred to me directly from the Court and at other times, attorneys’ working together recommend counseling to their respective clients so that they can move on with their lives by solving some of the above problems. Due to my involvement for so many years with couples who are already divorced, I received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Oakland County Court. A copy of this certificate is shown to the right.
It should be noted that for some couples that have filed for divorce, marital counseling can sometimes prevent a divorce from occurring and this should be considered as an option for most couples. However, divorce is sometimes a good solution when the marriage is no longer working and attempts have been made to create a good marriage through the process of counseling to no avail. Sometimes, counseling is unable to work in saving a marriage due to a variety of reasons, i.e. couples are unwilling to address the problems in a non-defensive manner, hurts are too deep, getting married for the wrong reasons, spousal abuse, multiple affairs, substance abuse problems, etc. Under any of these circumstances, divorce will in most cases be the right decision.
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