The divorce rate in the United States has generally hovered near 50% for many years. Still, no one who enters into a marriage usually plans on seeking a divorce. Whether the need for a divorce has taken you by surprise or has been clear for a while, facing the end of your marriage can be a stressful life event, especially if you're trying to work through things on your own. However, there is an option that may help you through the process: divorce counseling. You may attend divorce counseling online or in person before or after your divorce takes place. Divorce counselors can help you remain on good terms with your former spouse and work through any difficult emotions you may be experiencing.
What Is Divorce Counseling?
You have probably heard of marriage counseling – you may have even tried it in the hope of fixing your marriage. Marriage counseling is typically for couples working to improve their relationship for a better future, recover after challenging marital problems, or decide whether it is healthy to stay married. For some couples, counseling can lead to improved healthy communication and increased marital satisfaction. For others, it may bring a different outcome: the realization the relationship ending may be the best decision.
You may attend divorce counseling on your own or with your former partner. It might sound like an uncomfortable idea to go to counseling with someone you have already divorced or plan on divorcing. But going through the process together can have many benefits, especially if you have children together. A licensed professional counselor can help you learn how to set healthy boundaries and communicate effectively as you co-parent.
The early days can be especially difficult as you both work to find your new normal and adjust to being divorced. Having an unbiased, objective divorce therapist can make this transition easier. Your counselor will likely create a safe space where you and your former spouse can have difficult conversations in effective and healthy ways.
When Should You Attend Divorce Counseling?
There is no right or wrong time to attend divorce counseling. Therapists usually divide sessions into pre-divorce and post-divorce counseling to help make your transition easier. However, if you start before your divorce and don't feel you need to continue after the divorce, you don't necessarily have to. Similarly, if you have already been through your divorce without pre-divorce counseling, you can begin therapy sessions after the divorce is final. Counseling before the divorce can help each of you learn how to communicate with the other partner civilly. You will often need to have some form of communication with the other person as you work toward finalizing the details of the divorce. This process can be easier when you have a licensed professional helping you work through your feelings.
Who Should Attend Divorce Counseling?
Divorce counseling can work under several circumstances. For starters, if you and your spouse have recently decided to divorce, it can be helpful to receive guidance on the process. You generally don't need to worry about judgment or the counselor trying to change your mind. Licensed therapists are trained to work with you on your specific goals. If you don't want to stay in the marriage, it’s unlikely they’ll try to force you to reconcile.
You don't necessarily need your spouse to attend sessions with you. While it can be helpful, especially if you have children together, you can still benefit from attending divorce counseling on your own. You can also attend together in the beginning and shift to separate sessions later if you prefer. Maybe you have both realized that you need to learn how to improve your relationship as a divorced couple, or maybe you have felt stuck since your divorce was finalized. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, sadness, or an inability to move past the divorce, individual divorce counseling can be beneficial.
It can be common to work through various feelings associated with grief during and after a divorce. A therapist can help you through each emotional stage in a healthy way. Your therapist can also help you work through any guilt and find feelings of forgiveness, both for your former partner and for yourself.
What To Look For In A Divorce Counselor
When looking for a divorce counselor, you'll usually want to seek a licensed therapist who is experienced in providing counseling during and after divorce. While any licensed therapist can provide you with this type of counseling, it doesn't necessarily mean it's their area of expertise. If approaching divorce through a religious lens is important to you, you may want to find a therapist who aligns with your values and beliefs.
You will also want to check your chosen therapist’s availability. Chances are, when you are working through a divorce or are recently divorced, you may be experiencing major changes to your schedule, especially if you have children. That shift may mean you need to be able to get to counseling when it works best for you.
Divorce therapists can be found in individual private practice or be part of a larger healthcare system or clinic.
Things To Remember When Going Through Divorce
Along with going to divorce counseling, there are some other tips that may help you through your divorce:
Don't Isolate Yourself
You may be hurting, you may have had your trust broken, and you may be feeling ashamed or embarrassed. These feelings are all typical when experiencing a divorce. However, such feelings can sometimes cause you to isolate yourself, and this rougher patch in your life is often a good time to surround yourself with family members and friends who love and support you.
When your life changes dramatically, it’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself. It can be helpful to make sure you get a healthy amount of sleep and eat nutritious meals. Exercise can help you feel more energetic and healthier. You may also want to practice mindfulness, meditation, or other activities that help you feel peaceful and fulfilled.
Divorce is often a time of transition, which may be a great time to rediscover who you are and what you’re passionate about. You might pick up old hobbies that you haven't had time for or even try something new.
How To Find A Divorce Counselor
In order to find a licensed professional to work with, you might start with a simple Google search for "divorce counseling near me.” It is often beneficial to research any therapist that sounds like a good fit before you choose one to work with. You generally want to make sure that you find someone you can trust and feel comfortable talking to.
If you have a close friend or family who has been through a recent divorce, you can ask them for suggestions as well. If they completed divorce counseling, they might have an excellent personal recommendation. However, you likely will still want to interview the therapist to see if they are a good fit for you and your needs.
If you can't find a local therapist experienced in divorce counseling or your new schedule makes getting to appointments difficult, online therapy might be a better fit.
Online Therapy Can Help
Realizing that you need a divorce can be a difficult process. Remember, nearly 50% of marriages in the United States end within the first 20 years. Research has found that showing yourself compassion throughout divorce proceedings can strengthen your emotional recovery, both at the time of the divorce and even up to nine months later. To help you take care of yourself through this challenging time, an online therapist may be beneficial. You deserve to feel supported and cared for, and the flexible online therapy services available can provide you with the support and guidance you may be seeking.
Online therapy can be arranged around your busy life—a feature that may be particularly useful if your work or family schedule has changed due to the end of a marriage. You can work with a caring, licensed therapist in the comfort of your own home and on any device with an internet connection. Online divorce counseling services may also be more affordable than in-person therapy options, which can make all the difference if you are trying to save money for attorney’s fees, living on your own, and other divorce-related expenses that may lie ahead.
Online divorce counseling has the potential to be quite effective, too. A recent study found that internet-based interventions often yielded positive mental health effects for individuals going through low to moderate-conflict divorce proceedings.
Frequently Asked Questions
For examples of questions that might be beneficial to explore in therapy, please see below.
What kind of counseling do I need for a divorce?
What happens in divorce counseling?
What are the 5 stages of a divorce?
Do I need counseling after the divorce?
What are the 7 stages of a divorce?
What a woman gets after a divorce?
Can marriage counseling stop divorce?
What are the signs of a divorce?
What are the benefits of divorce counseling?
What is the success rate of divorce counseling?
Can I save my marriage?
What is the success rate of counseling?
When one spouse wants a divorce and the other does not?
Can I give my husband an ultimatum?
Does family therapy help with divorce?
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