Separation or divorce is often traumatic for couples, and their children. The emotional turmoil leading up to the final separation, combined with the separation or divorce itself can be emotionally and financially devastating. People often go through a period of grief, may feel shame, have depression, anxiety, lose friends and family, have difficulty reconnecting with others and if children are involved conflict revolving around co-parenting, and have difficulty helping the children with their emotional pain.
People may separate for many reasons such as growing apart, compatibility, poor communication skills, infidelity, substance abuse issues, other addictions, physical or mental abuse, financial problems, low commitment to the relationship, and stress outside of the family such as problems with in-laws, previous spouses, work related issues and unforeseen tragedy. Whatever the reason, getting additional support from a therapist can ease some of the pain and help all involved through this difficult time. Also, keep in mind, a separation or divorce can worsen any existing mental or physical health issues such as depression, anxiety, addictions, personality disorders, chronic pain and stomach problems. Extra support may be essential to your well being.
There are different types of counseling for different stages of separation, and different family members involved. Therapy can provide people with a way to process their feelings about separating with minimal hostility, planning for the divorce and finding important closure to the relationship so that each person can move on with minimal psychological damage.
Individual Therapy: Individual counseling can help people to process their loss, learn more about themselves, gain coping strategies and find ways to grow from the experience.
Couples Therapy: Frequently, people go to couples counseling when they realize their relationship is in serious trouble. Sometimes, couples seek help before it is too late, and save their marriages, while for others it is a last ditch effort to save a relationship that is too far gone. There are also times when a couple comes to therapy and one person wants to save the relationship, and their partner is ready to end it, ultimately ending in separation. A couples therapist or divorce therapist can help couples prepare for upcoming changes, plan for their future apart, to develop co-parenting strategies if children are involved, and to resolve some painful feelings.
Family Therapy: Family counseling during or after the separation can provide a safe and neutral place for families to work through complicated emotions. If children are involved, this can provide them with a safe place to ask questions, share their feelings and gain support without feeling the stress of betraying one or both parents, helping them to better adjust to the changes.
Child Therapy: When parents divorce, children can experience various psychological problems of their own and greatly benefit from the support of a therapist. Kids may have increased anxiety and depression, feel loss and pain, feel responsible for the break up, be confused, may feel pressure to care for one or both parents, and may feel abandoned. These feelings may present as withdrawal, frequent crying, anger or other emotional outbursts, aggression, inability to focus in school, clinging to one of the parents, and having anxiety about leaving the parent or home, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and reluctance to connect with friends.
The ending of a relationship is not the ending of a physical life. While it can be very painful for the couple, and their families, it doesn’t have to leave lasting scars for all involved. As a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist and certified trauma therapist, I have specialized training and experience to help you and your family through this difficult time. I can offer you the an opportunity to heal, learn more about yourself, and use this life transition as an opportunity to grow and find happiness again.