By Garrison “Bud” Klueck
Americans of a certain age likely recall a memorable TV commercial. The TV image is that of someone breaking an egg. The voice-over announcer says “This is your brain.” It then cuts to a very hot frying pan sizzling. The egg is dropped into the pan, where it rapidly fried. The voiceover says “This is your brain on drugs. Get it?” In other words, taking drugs fries your brain.
The services offered by the professionals in a Collaborative divorce team have the opposite effect on clients going through the divorce process. Collaborative divorce “unfries your brain.” The client’s “unfried brain” then has the capacity to make the important decisions that a divorcing person needs to make.
Brain science tells us that there are parts that are basically the source of all the emotions that we experience. These brain parts are known by the term “amygdala.”
While emotions are important to living a full and satisfying life, almost everybody has experienced how our emotions can sometimes become overwhelming. Modern brain scans tell us why. Those brain scans show that, when the emotional parts of the brain are activated, the higher-reasoning parts show little or no activity.
The divorce process generates intense emotions. Meanwhile, those divorcing spouses have to make very important decisions by weighing the costs against the benefits of various options. In other words, the usual way people get divorced demands that they make important life-affecting decisions at a time in their lives when their emotions make them least likely to make sound decisions.
As a Collaborative attorney, I have witnessed that the very valuable services rendered by our well-trained divorce coaches have the effect of “turning down the heat” of the emotions of our clients. When you lessen the activation of the emotional centers of our brains, it lets the decision-making centers become activated; then the divorcing persons are freed to make the very important decisions that will affect their lives and their children’s lives for years to come.
Over my more than a quarter-century of family law practice, I have witnessed people in the traditional court-based divorce process make some very bad decisions which affected their future and their childrens’ future. To protect against this almost inevitable problem, there must be some process to prevent those very powerful emotions of the moment affect long-term planning. The involvement of mental health professionals to help divorcing people process their emotions not only lets those people feel somewhat better during the process, it empowers them to make the decisions they will need to make.
Your brain “on collaborative divorce” will not be a fried brain, like on drugs, but a healthy brain ready to make good choices for a healthy future for you and your family.
Author Garrison “Bud” Klueck has received training as both as an attorney and as a mental health professional. As an attorney, Bud has been practicing law for over 27 years and is a certified legal specialist in family law. He was among the first group of San Diego professionals to train in the collaborative process in 2001 and has, over the years, participated in many collaborative cases. As a mental health professional, Bud has a Master’s degree in counseling psychology (MACP) and has internship status with the California Board of Behavioral Science (BBS).