Couples starting the Collaborative Divorce process understand they will be working with family law attorneys to help facilitate the legal requirements. They also recognize the advantages of working with a neutral financial professional such as a Certified Financial Planner or Certified Divorce Analyst, especially when there are important assets or property involved as part of the financial settlement.
But some couples don’t initially think they need a divorce coach. They say, “Well, we get along fine and we don’t need help,” or “I’m coping with everything OK, so why do I need to see a therapist?” Sometimes there are concerns, especially in Collaborative Divorce, about paying for “all these people” when they don’t seem necessary.
After many years of experience as licensed mental health professionals working with divorcing couples through the Collaborative Process, we can tell you that the investment in your emotional well-being throughout your divorce will benefit you not only today, but for many years to come.
What Is A Divorce Coach?
A Divorce Coach is a licensed mental health professional trained to assist clients with the emotional challenges of divorce, communication, parenting plans and preparation for the future. Through Collaborative Divorce, clients work on multidisciplinary teams with attorneys, fina
ncial specialists and other professionals, sharing information through a transparent process with the goal of a family-centered resolution.
How Can A Divorce Coach Help During a Divorce?
A Divorce Coach can play a critically important role in helping couples work through the process by addressing challenges in communication, emotional coping skills, and parenting.
- Identify underlying needs and wants and how to express these interests clearly.
- Teach communication strategies around decision-making and problem-solving.
- Facilitate the negotiation so that everyone feels heard and solutions are found.
- Communicate with each other, with attorneys and financial specialists frequently.
- Offer skill based strategies for managing emotions.
- Provide structure when facilitating difficult conversations and negotiations.
- Facilitate client control of the process and maintain the client’s vision for the end result.
- Help a client’s attorneys understand individual roles, the dynamics of the team and how both affect the Collaborative Process to work more effectively.
- Help professionals understand how relationship dynamics affect the Collaborative Process and prevent or address stumbling blocks when they occur.
- Offer parents a safe place to propose and discuss possible parenting plan options.
- Consider developmental stages of children in parenting plan proposals.
- Allow difficult emotions to be present in working through child sharing arrangements.
- Offer insight into developing a roadmap for the new dynamics of the family.
Sometimes by default, couples begin to see their attorneys as surrogate therapists or coaches. This is understandable but not productive. Attorneys are not trained mental health professionals, and their role is to provide their valuable legal expertise. It is not an effective use of time or money to try to work through mental health issues with legal professionals.
In the long run, you will work through your emotional challenges far more easily and effectively with a trained mental health professional who understands the Collaborative Process to work with you as you navigate this critically important chapter in your life, and help prepare you and your family for the chapters ahead.