Divorce Counseling: Benefits Of Pre- And Post-Divorce Therapy

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The pain attached to a divorce can only subside once the proceedings are done with and you begin the process of starting a new life. In relationships where partners can’t seem to have one civil discussion, the process of getting a divorce may be the worst experience they’ve ever been through. That’s where divorce counseling can be immensely beneficial. 

Sometimes, not being able to determine the root cause of animosity in a relationship might lead to continued fights and divorce seems to be the only way out. When people feel that they have to resort to divorce, even if the relationship could have improved with just a bit of care given to it, they may never even realize what they lost.

When couples seek divorce counseling, these technicalities are assessed and discussed. If you’re trying to understand the benefits of pre- and post-divorce counseling, we’re here to tell you all you need to know, with the help of Supreme Court advocate Tahini Bhushan (LLB, University of Delhi), who specializes in matrimonial law and domestic violence cases.

What Is Divorce Counseling?

Before we understand all the benefits of divorce counseling, it’s important to be on the same page about what exactly you comprehend from the term. Divorce therapy, separation counseling, or any other form of divorce counseling for that matter, aims to give you the skills and confidence needed to tackle the problems that you are facing and make the entire process a lot smoother. 

A marriage counselor may offer divorce counseling, and the most common methods of therapy used are Cognitive Behavior Therapy or Emotion-Focused Therapy. Counselors may conduct couples counseling or even individual therapy to help achieve the desired results.

In the case of divorce counseling, the “desired results” are to be able to put you in a state where you’re capable of understanding the reason for the conflicts in your marriage and the best course of action in the given circumstances, and coming to terms with the many changes that come with a divorce.

For example, the dissolution of your marriage may put some people in a depressive state where they may not be sure about how to process their grief. Similarly, others may experience anxiety, stress, sadness, or any other negative emotions. Divorce counseling gives you the necessary support to be able to deal with these emotions and the changes that happen around you.

It’s important to note that divorce counseling doesn’t just happen after the divorce or before it, it’s a process that can begin way before the divorce does, and may continue for a considerable amount of time after the divorce. On that note, it may do you some good to take a look at the emotional stages of divorce to get a better understanding of what you might be going through in the near future.

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The Stages Of Divorce

Divorce can shake a person to their core. A major change in a person’s life such as the dissolution of a marriage isn’t easy to deal with and it’s clear to see why. Much like the stages of grief, the emotional stages a person goes through may not appear in a linear fashion. Nonetheless, knowing what’s potentially in store for your emotional state can help you understand how to deal with it. On that note, let’s talk about the stages of divorce that people often experience.

Related Reading: Life After Divorce – 15 Ways To Build It From Scratch And Start Afresh

1. Denial

When you’ve lived with a person for a considerable period, and when you’ve aligned your ambitions, future plans, and day-to-day routines with the person you were married to, the declaration of divorce isn’t easy to accept. As is the case in most scenarios that involve grief, denial takes hold of a person before anything else.

You’ll be unwilling to accept that divorce is a potential option and you may start to work harder toward saving your marriage. But since you’re not sure what the problem even is, you’re naturally not going to know what you must do to solve them. How long the denial stage lasts depends from person to person, just like all the other stages of a divorce.

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2. Blame-shifting, anger, and outbursts

The recurring fights will find their way into every conversation you have with your spouse. There may be a lot of blame-shifting and you’ll probably be upset at each other for all the past mistakes and shortcomings. This state of emotional flooding often gets too overwhelming, which is why so many people choose to express it with anger.

3. The bargaining stage

When a person realizes that their marriage is at risk of falling apart, you’ll see desperate attempts to avoid a divorce. That’s because along with the marriage, the life that they’ve cultivated and grown used to, along with the routines they’ve set, are all threatened as well. Though anger may make a person make some rash decisions and make it seem like they don’t much care for their failing marriage, the bargaining stage will come around sooner or later.

4. Grief sets in

When the realization of the inevitable sets in, a person may experience a wave of guilt take over them. They may experience depression and might not be sure about how they can process the overwhelming grief they’re feeling. It’s in situations like these that divorce counseling can often come to the rescue, equipping people with healthy coping techniques and other methods of dealing with the grief.

5. Acceptance and rebuilding

Once a person realizes that a perpetual grim view of the future isn’t the most accurate one, they’ll start to develop hope again. With hope, comes an acceptance of what has happened and an attempt at rebuilding their lives. The time taken to reach this stage is different for everyone, and so is the way a person chooses to rebuild their life.

It’s clear to see that divorce takes a toll on anyone’s emotional state. Regardless of what stage of a divorce a person may be in, seeking counseling can be a beneficial decision for anyone. Let’s take a look at the benefits of approaching a therapist.

The Benefits Of Divorce Counseling 

Divorce counseling helps with communication
How can divorce counseling help?

Now that you know exactly what it is, let’s take a look at the benefits of divorce counseling, so you can understand what it has to offer you on your journey. The point of pre-divorce counseling is not to persuade you out of divorce; it is to help you both understand what’s best for you individually and as a couple, and how to make sure you get what you need. 

Speaking on the subject, Tahini tells us that counseling can help couples achieve clarity and be clear about their decisions, “The counselors usually just want to figure out whether there is something salvageable in the relationship. And usually, people who undergo therapy want to figure it out themselves as well.

“In cases where there’s been no violence, mediation counselors can help certify if the marriage is broken beyond repair or not. By meeting with both partners separately and together, they can even help the couple reach common ground on the multiple technicalities associated with a divorce.”  

How Can A Divorce Counselor Help?

Much like therapy in other situations, a divorce counselor can give you the support people often need in such circumstances. When an unbiased third party is approached for help to understand the conflicts in a marriage, they’ll make sure that they analyze your patterns without any biases and predispositions.

A divorce counselor points out the negative patterns in your behaviors, they can help identify the trigger points in your marriage and may be able to ascertain the cause of your arguments and the conflict. Broadly, the two main ways in which a divorce counselor can help are either by helping a couple decide on the best course of action or by helping them deal with the stages of divorce.

That way, couples can be absolutely sure about their decision of either pursuing a divorce or trying to save the marriage. Whatever the decision, a divorce counselor can help them understand the changes that come with it and what they must implement going forward for their decision to bear fruit. Be it conflict resolution tactics, ways to improve communication between spouses, understanding how to deal with emotional flooding, or any other form of support a person may need, divorce counseling can be the perfect place to receive it.

Given just how stressful divorce tends to be, having some stress-management tricks up your sleeve during those sleepless nights will improve your overall well-being. Post-divorce counseling can help you get back on your feet after your divorce and find a new life. If you’re still not convinced, let’s break it down and talk about some of the benefits in detail. 

The Benefits Of Pre-Divorce Counseling

Tahini tells us that in cases with no history of violence, pre-divorce counseling is actually legally mandated for couples who apply for a divorce. Some couples may opt for marriage counseling before they’re even thinking about a divorce. More often than not, this turns out to be a smart decision. When a trained professional, and more importantly an impartial third party, is determined to diagnose what’s best for you, it can help both of you tremendously. Some of the benefits of pre-divorce counseling are: 

1. Understanding the root cause of your problems

One of the most significant benefits of going to separation counseling before your divorce is the possibility of understanding exactly what it is that’s causing a rift between you and your spouse. In some situations, couples often change their minds about divorce and end up getting back together, stepping into a healthier relationship.

Tahini says, “The parties figure out what’s wrong, so they don’t solely blame each other. They can figure out if there was a third party involved or if the issues lie with each other. It makes it much easier for them to rebuild their relationship for the future.”

By no means is it an easy process and divorce counselors will never push the couple to not opt for a divorce. They will only show you that it’s possible for you to put your differences aside, find a compromise, and work on your marriage. The rest, of course, is up to you.

2. Pre-divorce counseling helps with better communication

If yours is the type of relationship that has been on the brink of divorce for many years, there might be a significant amount of animosity and anger, which leads to inefficient communication. A civil discussion might have become a thing of the past long ago, and you can’t see eye to eye on anything.

In such cases, divorce therapists will help you establish better communication with your partner so that the prospect of going through a scrupulous divorce doesn’t seem impossible. If you’re currently struggling with a similar dynamic and are looking for divorce counseling, Bonobology has a multitude of experienced therapists who can help you get through this difficult time in your life.

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3. Better planning for divorce

Even the most consensual divorce is bound to encounter some roadblocks along the way. Often, the two parties may not consult each other and solely talk to their divorce lawyers. With pre-divorce counseling, people can better plan out things so that the process doesn’t turn ugly. Since there are a lot of legal aspects involved in a divorce, planning becomes a vital part of it, and divorce counselors will help you do just that.

Tahini explains the difficulties of a contested divorce. “A contested divorce can easily last for 5, or even 10 years. If a counselor can convince both parties to put their issues aside to fast-track the divorce, a mutual divorce can be done in just six months. Once both partners can discuss things like finances and undergo a mutual divorce, the courts are pretty happy as well. Three hearings and a smooth divorce can be accomplished as well,” she says.

4. Family counseling

Divorce counseling for families that have children in the mix can help both the children and the parents go through the entire process more easily. It comes as no surprise that divorce is hard on the children, and perhaps, with a bit of divorce counseling, parents may be encouraged to make things better for them.

Related Reading: Should You Get A Divorce? – Take This Divorce Checklist

5. You can be sure if you need a divorce or not

A decision as big as a divorce cannot and must not, be taken hastily. Especially if one of the parties feels there’s much to be worked out in their relationship. With the help of divorce counseling for couples, you can make sure that you’re 100% on board with whatever decision you make.

Divorce counseling
Divorce counseling can help you ascertain if end the marriage is the only recourse available to you

If a divorce is taken while there’s still some doubt, it can make things a lot worse for both parties involved. Being sure of your decision will help in the long run. Divorce counseling before actually filing for divorce can help you in several ways when you’re on the brink of a major change in your life. Be it to help you with the divorce itself, or even to help you both work on your marriage, the benefits are there for everyone to see.

The Benefits Of Post-Divorce Therapy

Once an informed and civil decision has been made to opt for a divorce, divorce counseling can still help you in numerous ways. The process of separation and divorce doesn’t just end when you’re both divorced on paper. The obligations and personal or familial struggles can go on for a much longer period. Hence, post-divorce counseling is a very viable tool to help people get accustomed to this new way of life they might find overwhelming in the beginning. Some of the benefits of post-divorce counseling include: 

1. Individual therapy for a better quality of life

It’s understandable that once the divorce is final, it may seem like your life has taken a turn for the worse. You might feel depressed, hopeless, and stressed. Post-divorce counseling can help you get back up on your feet again. With the tools you need to find your next step in this new life you’re now living, your quality of life can improve dramatically. Depression is a very real threat post-divorce, and avoiding/managing it can save lives.

Tahini agrees with the efficacy of individual post-divorce therapy, saying, “Apart from clients, I also have a friend for whom individual post-divorce therapy is working. Marriage, as an institution, is treated as a big deal. Once you suffer the pain of a divorce, it’s not easy to let go of it. They might say they’re okay, but they’re actually not. Individual therapy can help people get back on their feet.”

2. Post-divorce counseling can help handle the legal issues

Alimony, living arrangements, child support, child custody, property matters, it’s no surprise that divorce brings with it a plethora of legal aspects you need to deal with. While divorce lawyers can help you with most of them, the stress induced as a result will not be tended to by lawyers.

Tahini says, “Usually, none of the parties are happy with the financial aspects of the divorce. Counseling can help them reach common ground and help them cope.” This is where divorce counseling becomes essential – in equipping you with the emotional capacity to deal with the legal issues that must be taken care of.

3. Post-divorce therapy for families

Your marriage may have ended, but your job as a parent still requires you to be on your toes. If you’ve had a child with your ex-spouse, post-divorce counseling can help you navigate just how you two are going to be good parents to your child. Divorce affects children immensely. They might feel as if their life is disrupted now, so to make sure their upbringing isn’t hampered because of your divorce, learning how to co-parent after divorce can do wonders for them and help them realize that they are your priority.

Related Reading: 10 Things To Do When You Are Thinking About Divorce

4. Learning to live alone

It can come as a shock to many, just how hard it is to live alone after a divorce, especially after a long marriage. When people have been married for years or even decades, it becomes difficult for them to hold on to their individual personalities outside of their marriage. For the longest time, they’ve lived as a couple, two parts of a whole.

Divorce counseling can help you find yourself outside of your marriage and help you transition into singlehood again. The decision to divorce was made keeping your best interests in mind. Making sure that translates into your life after divorce is vital. Tahini says, “Based on what I’ve seen, women don’t take to being divorced too easily. In 90% of the cases, the custody of the child is given to the mother, and being a single mother isn’t easy. Therapy helps the mother gather her strength and work on her issues.”

5. Planning for the future

Venturing into the “dating world” after a divorce may seem extremely odd, to the point where you may even be dissuaded from the whole experience altogether. While a divorce therapist won’t tell you what to say on your date to impress him/her, they can give you a sense of self-worth and confidence that is needed for you to try to find a new partner again.

“Our society isn’t kind to single people, and divorcees deal with far greater stigma. A lot of people need therapy to deal with all of this added pressure and negativity than comes with a divorce, it’s just that many refuse to acknowledge that they need help,” says Tahini, about how post-divorce therapy can help people deal with depression and mental health challenges.

Key Pointers

  • Pre-divorce counseling can help you understand the root cause of your issues, see if there’s any hope for reconciliation, or help mediate the divorce process
  • Post-divorce therapy can help you get accustomed to life after divorce, deal with any negative emotions, and maintain your mental health 
  • With the help of therapy, the stages of divorce can become more manageable  

Even if you wish to spend the rest of your life alone, divorce counseling can help you get used to that, as we mentioned earlier. The benefits of divorce counseling don’t just end with making the legal process easier, they help you manage stress, anxiety, anger, and any other overwhelming emotions you may have. Separation counseling will make sure a pointlessly ugly divorce doesn’t come into play, and God knows nobody’s looking forward to an ugly divorce.

FAQs

1. What do divorce counselors do?

Divorce counselors can help make the process of divorce a lot smoother. They can help with establishing clear communication with your spouse and help you get back on your feet after your divorce. Divorce counselors will assist you with dealing with the stress and emotions that are part and parcel of the divorce.

2. Should you do therapy before divorce?

Yes, the benefits of pre-divorce counseling speak for themselves. You will be able to ascertain with complete confidence whether you really require a divorce or not. It will establish constructive communication between the partners and the planning of the divorce will be made a lot easier.

3. Can counseling really save a marriage?

Counseling will only save a marriage when a good therapist sees that there is potential for it to be saved and if both partners are willing to save it. By improving communication between both partners, understanding the root cause of frustration, and working on things together, counseling really can save a marriage.

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