When I work with those going through divorce, I work on two areas.
The first is providing support through the practical challenges that divorce brings – lawyers, accountants, splitting assets, custody and access, moving-out and maintaining relationships with friends and family. The benefits of therapy are obvious in situations like this. When one is able to think clearly and act authentically, these issues become easier to deal with. I have seen many people involved in lawsuits and divorce who act irrationally or emotionally, and in the end, this never helps the situation. However, the goal of therapy is not to make you want less, or to have you give-in to concessions or compromises. It is simply to help you find-out what you really want during this time so that you know how to act and prioritize your situation.
As the mechanics of divorce become settled, then it is time to start working through what happens after divorce. There are always various theories like "wait two years before you start dating" or "wait two days". It is very rare that there is one strategy that fits all for people moving forward from divorce, so we work together to help you understand and realize what you want.
The therapeutic work involved in moving forward from divorce often consists of:
Mourning A Dream
Throughout a marriage, there may be many signals that dreams of a life together are over or may not come true but the finality of a divorce presents a very chilling reminder of such. Therapy is very well-suited to working through issues of loss and "saying goodbye" to a dream. In many cases, emotions such as self-recminiation or "feeling stupid" for saving stayed in a bad marriage for so long often cover-up the the inevitability that one's dreams are truly lost.
The Excitement And Concerns About Starting Anew Sometimes people are not so concerned about saying "Goodbye". Rather, they are excited about starting a new life. However, with this new life often comes some anxiety. In therapy, excitement and anxiety are simply viewed as opposite sides of the same coin - so the goal in therapy is to examine the anxiety as a road to possible growth.
The feelings involved in divorce get very intense. From hatred, to anger, to fear, to joy, to relief - all the emotions and feelings involved could in many cases "go to 11" (if you get the Spinal Tap Reference). The goal in therapy is to encourage a full exploration of feelings instead of having the feelings be "reactionary" to some part of the divorce process. In examining feelings in this way, one becomes more at peace with the process instead of fighting against the emotions that come-up. It is not possible to tell someone to act rationally towards a situation when they have not worked-through all the intense feelings that keep bubbling-up and interfering with the process.