Divorce Counselors

Many people decide to seek out counseling to help them deal with divorce. Today counseling no longer carries any stigma. It is a very common tool, widely used by men and women from all walks of life. It’s not difficult to get the help you need, but here is some information that might help you decide whether you need counseling and how to find the right counselor for you.

How do you know if you need counseling?
You may be wondering whether you need counseling. Everyone who divorces experiences some level of loss, sadness, and pain, but not everyone chooses to seek out counseling. Here are a few signs that it may be right for you:

  • Your sadness has turned into a deep depression and you don’t seem to be improving as times goes by.
  • You are not moving through the normal stages of divorce recovery (See Recovery and New Relationships). You’re stuck on anger, denial, or an almost permanent distrust of the opposite sex.
  • Your feelings of sadness are so intense that they prevent you from taking care of the requirements of daily life-going to work, caring for children, or paying the bills.
  • You often feel sad and hopeless, and you have thoughts of suicide or are afraid you might harm your ex-spouse or someone else. (If this condition applies to you or anyone you know, then counseling must be sought, immediately.)
  • Your children appear to be suffering emotionally as a result of the divorce. They are acting out, appear listless, or are uninterested in the activities they once enjoyed. Or, they are especially needy or fearful of losing one or both parents. These signs indicate that your children need counseling or that you should seek family counseling.

Is couples counseling or individual counseling appropriate for you?
There are several reasons why you may seek out couples counseling. If you are still in any way unsure about your divorce or you hope to save your marriage, you should definitely pursue couples counseling. A trained therapist can help you decide whether you marriage can be saved. And, if you wish to reconcile, the therapist can help you take the necessary steps to change and improve your relationship, if at all possible.

Some couples opt for joint counseling even after making a final decision to divorce. This kind of therapy is called counseling for closure. The purpose of this counseling is not to save your marriage, but to help you accept the divorce and evaluate your past mistakes in order to be more emotionally healthy in the future. Counseling for closure is most effective when both partners agree that the marriage is over and share the same goal of moving on in a healthy way. In order to be successful, it will be necessary for you to open up and reflect on what you did wrong during your marriage. Counseling for closure is less effective when you or your spouse insist on casting blame or engaging in shouting matches. It is also ineffective when one partner has a hidden agenda (for example, he/she hopes that the counseling will convince the spouse to reunite.)

Although couples counseling is an option, most people opt for individual counseling when going through a divorce. Individual counseling focuses on you-your thoughts and feelings, your past behaviors, and your future goals. Counseling can’t solve all your problems, but it can help you deal with them, to make important decisions, and to modify your behavior so that you don’t end up repeating past mistakes.

How can you find a good counselor?
There are several avenues for finding a good therapist. You might start in your church community. Many ministers are qualified to do counseling work and will be willing to work with you or to refer you to a professional who shares your beliefs and values (if this is important to you.)

Your workplace or work-sponsored insurance company probably has a mental health referral service, so you might check there for the names of qualified therapists. And most communities have mental health organizations that can refer you to someone. In your initial consultation, be sure to ask about cost and billing. There may be a charge even for your initial session.

What should you expect from counseling?
A therapist is not a friend or buddy. Nor will he or she tell you what you should do to “fix” your problems. A good therapist will listen carefully and provide a safe place for you to work through your feelings. He or she may help to identify the causes of your anxiety or depression, to evaluate and accept the past, and to modify your behavior to lead to better results in the future. Therapy is usually short-term, so talk to your therapist about the likely time-line and eventual termination of your sessions.