Do I Really Need Divorce Counseling?

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated July 28, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Avia James, LPC

If you are currently facing the possibility of a divorce or if you and your partner are in the process of getting a divorce, you may be wondering if divorce counseling is something you should do. Chances are, someone you know has recommended that you seek professional help, but you may be wondering if divorce counseling is really necessary. After all, you may feel like you're doing just fine and you don't need any help through the stages of divorce. But divorce counseling can be more important than you think. Some people can experience mental health conditions like PTSD from divorce. 


What Is Divorce Counseling?

Taking Care Of Our Mental Health Can Feel Daunting

Divorce counseling is therapy with a licensed mental health professional whose primary focus is on supporting the mental and emotional health of individuals who are divorcing. Sometimes it’s called divorce therapy. Just like any other kind of counseling, divorce counseling is about helping you come to terms with the changes in your life and learning healthy coping skills for moving forward in a positive way through and after the stages of divorce.

Divorce counseling may take place individually or with spouse. A relationship counselor, couples’ therapist, or a family therapist may be called a divorce counselor or a divorce therapist and will work with you alone or with you and your partner. Sometimes these professionals do marriage counseling. Other times they specialize in helping couples and individuals during different stages of divorce. At times they may do marriage counseling with a couple but continue to work with them if they decide to divorce. They may also do post-divorce counseling. Whether they’re called a divorce counselor, a marriage counselor, a divorce therapist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, or a relationship counselor, a licensed mental health professional who is a therapist and works with divorcing couples can help you navigate the divorce process and help you rebuild after divorce. What’s most important is finding the best divorce therapist for you.

It doesn't make a difference if you're struggling with the divorce or if you're the one who wanted the divorce in the first place. Counseling can be an important step for anyone, at any point in the process. That's because divorce counseling isn't just about your relationship. The counseling that you're going to get is about you and what's going to happen to you now that this very big part of your life is over. Divorce counseling can help you come to terms with your divorce and learn ways to live a productive, positive post-divorce life. Seeking divorce counseling can be a sign of strength and a healthy way to help you manage the divorce process.

Counseling Before, During, And Post Divorce

Individuals and couples seek therapy for many reasons. Often couples will try marriage counseling before divorcing. Some may even go to premarital counseling before their wedding. (Sometimes this type of couples counseling is religious in nature, such as Christian counseling.) Counseling can help couples strengthen their marriage. Many couples find healthy ways to remain married. But if a couple reaches the point at which divorce seems like it will be in the best interest of the individuals, seeking divorce counseling can be a healthy step throughout the stages of divorce for all the parties involved. Some marriage counselors also work with couples who are divorcing. They may work with a couple or an individual during marriage, divorce, or both (or even beyond). The divorce process can be emotional and challenging. An experienced divorce counselor who is a licensed professional counselor or other licensed mental health therapist can help you through different stages of divorce. Seeking counseling help can be a healthy way to find support while going through a divorce.

Pre divorce counseling: If you and your spouse have determined that divorce is inevitable, pre divorce counseling may help you prepare to navigate the process of divorce. A divorce counselor can help you understand what to expect. During pre divorce counseling, a good divorce counselor or good divorce therapist can also help you make a plan for next steps. In pre divorce counseling, you can learn healthy ways to communicate and negotiate during the process of divorce. Pre divorce counseling can help you proactively address challenges that can arise during divorce. In addition to seeking counseling help from a licensed, certified therapist, contacting a divorce attorney is advisable.

Counseling during the divorce proceedings: If you’re going through a divorce, divorce counseling can help you manage the divorce process and the emotional upheaval that can come with it. Seeking divorce counseling can help you gain a sense of control over what might seem like an overwhelming life change. A divorce counselor can help you learn how to act in a civil way. You can also learn healthy tools to cope with stress and handle change.

If you have children, you can develop a co-parenting plan in divorce counseling. A good divorce counselor who is a licensed professional counselor or other licensed mental health therapist can also help you learn ways to protect the emotional well-being of children during divorce. A family therapist can be especially helpful. You can learn coping skills to help both yourself and your children. In divorce counseling, you can learn constructive, respectful ways to treat yourself and to interact with your spouse during what can be a very difficult time. Divorce counseling can offer benefits for you individually, for you as part of a divorcing couple, and, if you have children, for you as a parent. You can find a path to personal growth.

Post divorce counseling: Post divorce counseling can be important to help you move forward. In post divorce counseling, you can discover healthy ways to live your new, post divorce life and to experience positive personal growth. With post divorce counseling work, you can also learn positive ways to manage feelings about what may have been a negative or even heartbreaking experience. If you still need to have interactions with your ex, you can learn healthy ways to do so. If you have children, post divorce counseling or post divorce therapy can be a productive way to manage co-parenting and find positive ways to parent. You may also find support groups for divorced parents to be helpful. Family therapy might be another good option. A licensed marriage and family therapist or other licensed mental health professional may be a good fit to help you with healthy co-parenting. A licensed therapist may also help you with divorce coaching and parenting coaching.

Counseling When You Are Struggling

If you're struggling during any of the stages of divorce, either because you didn't want to get divorced or because you don't know what to do with yourself now that you're going to be divorced, divorce counseling is extremely important. Going to divorce counseling will help you better understand yourself. During counseling sessions, a divorce counselor or divorce therapist can also help you come to terms with the fact that the relationship is over. It can be difficult to recognize all of the things that are going to change about your life when you get divorced but going through therapy (sometimes called divorce therapy) with an experienced divorce counselor can help you with the process.

Counseling When You Are Not Struggling

What if you're not struggling with the decision to get a divorce? Maybe you're the one who wanted the divorce, or you and your partner came to a decision mutually. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't get divorce counseling. After all, you're facing a very big change in your life if you’re going through a divorce. Even if you weren't happy in the relationship, some things are going to change. You are ending what was likely a significant relationship in your life. Divorce counselors or divorce therapists are trained to help people through this transition. A good divorce counselor who is a licensed professional counselor or other licensed mental health therapist can help you come to terms with those big changes. Being alone, for example, is a big change from being married. Being responsible for all of the chores around the house, the bills and the kids is also a big challenge. A therapist may be able help you with life coaching as you manage these logistical issues. A marriage and family therapist may be particularly helpful if you do have kids and are trying to find support for you and them.

Talking with a therapist can help you better understand what you're going through and how it may affect you. Even if you think you're doing fine, you may find later on in your therapy that there are things you're struggling with. Sometimes it can take a little bit of time to start to recognize how something is affecting you. Holding it together on your own is not always the best way to go. Divorce counselors can help you learn healthy ways to cope. Talking with a therapist will help you get all those feelings and thoughts out there and will help you get on with your life.

Some commonly asked questions about this service include:

What are the signs that you should get a divorce?

Why counseling is important after a divorce?

Do therapists ever recommend divorce?

Can a marriage be saved with counseling?

What should I do if marital issues can’t be resolved?

Is it better to divorce or stay unhappily married?

When to call it quits in a marriage?

What should you not do when separating?

Should you reconcile after divorce?

How do I rebuild my life after divorce?

When will I be ready for future relationships?

Should I go to marriage counseling or divorce counseling?

What should I not tell a marriage counselor or divorce therapist?

Should I see a family therapist if I have children?

How do I find a therapist who is in private practice, online, or in other locations?


What It Can Mean For You To Get Divorced

There are some different areas that your life is going to change in when you’re going through a divorce. First, you may have a big difference in your finances. Not only will there be less money coming into the household, but you may be responsible for all of the bills. This can be extremely difficult for anyone, especially if your partner made a lot more than you or if you were a stay at home spouse or parent and are now trying to care for your family members with less financial support. It can be difficult to figure out how the finances are going to work out or even how to manage money on your own if you've never been responsible for the bills before.

Your lifestyle is about to change dramatically as well. The things that you used to do with your partner may not be the same things that you do on your own. Maybe your partner loved to go out dancing, and you didn't. Once you're divorced, there's no reason to go out dancing anymore, and even though you didn't like it, it's another change to which you will have to adjust. Maybe you used to love dancing, but now that you're not a couple anymore it's harder for you to go alone. Maybe you’ll have different interaction with family members now that you’re no longer a couple. This also changes your life dramatically. Simply being alone can be strange or even difficult after a divorce, especially after a long marriage.

Finally, the relationships you have with your friends, family members, and even your children can dramatically change as a result of divorce. You may not spend as much time with the same friends as before either because of the circumstances of the divorce or simply because they were closer to your ex than to you. You may not have your children living with you 100% of the time anymore, or there may be struggles in the relationship because of the divorce.

Taking Care Of Our Mental Health Can Feel Daunting

Emotions are most definitely going to be changing with the divorce as well. You may experience different emotional stages. Even if filing divorce papers was your idea, you would likely experience at least a little worry about what's going to happen to your finances, your house or even your job (especially if you were previously a stay at home spouse/parent). You may feel sad over the loss of friends, family or your partner as a result of the divorce. You may experience low self-esteem. You may feel guilty for the part you played in the relationship ending (especially if your children are upset) or what it's going to do to your family. You may feel grief over the loss of what you once had, and you may feel stress over all of the changes happening in your life. A therapist can help you address these issues and even offer you life coaching and self-care tools as you begin a new stage of your life. Divorce can be hard, but there are ways you can have the best divorce outcome and live a positive new life.

Even before you officially get divorced, or even before you're completely sure there is going to be a divorce, you should look into getting therapy. It is likely that emotions and thoughts are going through your mind as you decide to walk away or as you and your partner choose to end things. Getting started on those thoughts and feelings early on can be an most important step because it can set you up for success and strong self esteem. You can, and you will have a healthy and happy life again after your divorce, but it may take a little more time and a little more effort than you might have thought. Getting help could speed up the process.

Therapy For Your Children

If you have children and you're getting a divorce, it's important to look at the way that they react to the news as well. Even if your children seem to be doing fine, getting them into therapy can be a crucial step and the sooner, the better. Counseling sessions can give children a safe place to learn to cope with the divorce. You want to make sure that your child has someone they can talk to about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences throughout the divorce. After all, children of divorced parents are at a higher risk for anxiety, depression, suicide, and self-harm. They may experience difficulty in school or with friends or may have a complete behavioral change.

If you have children, it can also be important to seek out family counseling, perhaps with a marriage and family therapist or another licensed mental healthcare provider who is a good fit for you. You and your child should both attend therapy together so that you can learn how to relate to one another and how to better help your child through this difficult situation. It's going to be a process for both of you and neither of you is likely to understand it fully, but you most definitely can make a better start and give your child a better chance at successfully getting through the divorce.

Benefits of Counseling During And After A Divorce

Therapy can be helpful at any point in life. But when you’re experiencing a significant life event or change, counseling with a licensed professional counselor who is a therapist can especially beneficial. Therapy with a licensed mental health professional can take many forms. For this article, we’ll call therapy “divorce counseling.” Divorce counseling may be a helpful process. It may take place pre-divorce, during the divorce proceedings, and post-divorce. At each stage, divorce counseling can help you learn how to cope with changes and live a positive life. Benefits of divorce counseling include learning:

  1. Ways to safeguard your mental health during a challenging time.
  2. Healthy coping skills.
  3. How to live your new life in positive ways.
  4. Ways to prepare for an impending divorce with pre-divorce counseling.
  5. How to address and get treatment for mental illness if it exists.
  6. To cope with feelings of grief and loss over the end of the marriage with grief counseling techniques, as well as tools to face the emotional stages of grief.
  7. How to navigate the emotional stages of divorce and address negative emotions.
  8. Ways to accept the divorce outcome and move forward.
  9. Healthy ways to resolve conflicts.
  10. Healthy communication skills to use during the divorce proceedings.
  11. Healthy communication skills to use post-divorce if you still need to communicate with your former spouse.
  12. How to help your children cope with divorce.
  13. Best ways of teaching coping skills to your children.

Divorce counselors can help you develop healthy positive ways to grow and be your best self during what can be a time of significant change.

Finding The Therapy You Need

Finding the right kind of therapy can be very difficult for some people. Maybe the therapists located near you just aren't right for you for some reason or another. Maybe you're not comfortable with them or they just don't practice the right type of therapy. Maybe they’re in a private practice setting and their schedule isn’t right for yours or their availability is limited. Perhaps there isn’t a good counseling center or counselor’s office near you. Online therapy can be a convenient, helpful option.

Divorce counseling approaches can vary. What’s important in any type of therapy is that you find a therapist who is a good fit for you. Seeking professional help online can be a smart decision. Online therapy with BetterHelp can be an effective way to find support from licensed mental health professionals.  

Online help can be a great way to go about getting therapy, because you get to talk with a therapist located anywhere in the country. You can log on to the website from anywhere, as long as you can get an internet connection, and begin finding the benefits of online therapy. You can stay in the comfort of your own home, or any other preferred environment, and get the therapy that you're looking for. You won't have to walk into a traditional therapy practice ever again. With BetterHelp you can get the help you want right from your own home. There are options for individual therapy sessions or family or couples therapy sessions. You can also find online support groups on BetterHelp.

A licensed mental health professional can offer you help with situations that you're going through. On BetterHelp, you can connect with a divorce counselor, a marriage counselor, a licensed professional counselor, a family therapist, or another therapist who is a licensed mental healthcare provider and is a good fit for you. You may find that
“going to” counseling online is life changing.

Once you find that help and you start the process of therapy, you're going to start feeling better and getting closer to the healthy and happy life that you want for yourself. There's no reason to suffer or struggle alone when there's something you could do to help yourself.

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