Having a therapist can be very helpful for many people who are going through a divorce. Here are a fewT reasons why working with professional on both the legal front, and the mental health side, can be beneficial.
Few situations in life can trigger the same level of fear, worry, anxiety, sadness and countless other strong emotions, as a divorce. The loss of a marriage can cause grief symptoms that can mirror those of lost loved ones. This makes divorces an emotional roller coaster. Even for the most emotionally healthy, mature people, a divorce can be psychologically devastating. Having a mental health professional by your side to assist you in working through all the hurt feelings and emotions that come along with a divorce can keep your overall quality of life higher than if you try to go it without professional help.
Many people, as much as anything else, need someone to talk through their emotions with during a divorce. Often, those people will try to discuss their feelings with their attorney in an in-depth fashion. The problem is, while your divorce attorney is likely a good person with a sympathetic ear, they aren’t trained to think about the situation the same way as a mental health professional. Attorneys are trained to be very fact based creatures. We look at a situation based on what evidence exists, and quickly and decisively try to ignore the emotional components. This is because often, the emotional components are not legally relevant. Meaning, the judge probably won’t care about it, so we are trained to move on to the next piece of evidence the judge might care about. This difference in our training and focus makes us very good at seeing the solution to the divorce, but leaves us not well equipped to help clients process the unresolved emotional mess left behind.
Most divorces are actually very easy matters to resolve, speaking from a legal standpoint. Often when problems arise, it is caused by hurt feelings getting in the way of one or both parties’ ability to move forward on something. I’m not saying the solution is always as simple as being emotionally healthy. Sometimes there are problems with the divorce that create a very difficult dynamic that takes a while to work through the legalities of. My point is that many problems in a divorce get caused by emotionally harsh reactions by one parent or the other. It can be very hard to rise above the difficult past of a long term relationship. By having a mental health professional work with you, it can ease some of the emotions, that may help you move through your divorce more seamlessly.
No matter how well a parent hides their sadness to try and protect the children from the impact of the divorce, the children can always sense when a parent is bothered or upset. The more work you can do with a mental health professional to help you move past your grief from the ending relationship, the less collateral impact that can have on the kids. Also, many times it is advisable for children to see a counselor to have someone they can talk to about the divorce. Divorces are most traumatic for them, and they can’t always talk openly with their parents for fear of hurting one or the other parent’s feelings. Seeking out an age appropriate counselor for your children is almost always a good idea during a divorce.
This is simply a mathematical point. Attorneys typically charge somewhere between $200-$400 an hour. Counselors often charge less. Sometimes, when you need someone you can trust to vent your frustrations to, from a financial standpoint, it can be far cheaper (and more beneficial) to spend an hour with a mental health professional rather than with your lawyer. That frees up your time with your lawyer to stay focused on the nuts and bolts of your divorce and is more likely to provide the emotional support you are really needing from this interaction.
For most people, a divorce is a very emotional experience and while an attorney is best equipped to help you with the legalities of a divorce and custody case, a well trained therapist is a better choice to help you navigate through the emotional impact a divorce has on your life. While most attorneys will try and be sensitive to the highly emotional nature of a divorce, a therapist is better able to help you fully identify and resolve these feelings.
Tom Brasier is a family law attorney at Brasier Law, a firm specializing in divorce and custody cases. He practices in the greater Portland, Oregon and SW Washington areas. You can see more articles about Oregon divorce and custody at brasierlaw.com or can contact Tom directly by calling at 1-(503)-855-4777.