Barbara Rothberg, DSW, LCSW

Therapy, Coaching, Mediation and Parent Coordination

 
 
 
       

The Importance of Divorce Coaching

M any people benefit from working with a divorce coach during the difficult process of separating and divorcing.

In terms of stress levels, divorce rates as one of the hardest times in people's lives. A divorce coach can help make the process a bit easier. A divorce coach can be helpful in many ways. She can be a tremendous support during a time when the world seems to be falling apart, as the relationship has fallen apart. Working as a neutral, in a team with attorneys, she has the training and ability to monitor the emotional level of meetings and assist when emotions rise, helping to lower the volume and keep the discussion going in a productive manner. She can meet with folks either separately or together to help identify the sticking poitns that are impeding the progress of dealing with the issues that need to be decided. Initially trained as a couple and family therapist, with further training in mediation, she is able to handle high emotions that inevitably erupt in divorce situations. People generally report feeling safe in the environment when they know a coach can keep things under control. 

A divorce coach understands the dynamics between the couple and is able to help them see how they trigger one another. When speficis are pointed out, it can be helpful to keep the process moving in a good direction rather than derailing it. I will present an example, but the names and identifying information have been changed to protect the privacy of the couple.

                      Carol and Barry are getting divorced and feel very angry at one another. Barry had an affair, which Carol discovered and she has been very hurt and angry.  Barry feels justified as he feels Carol is married to her work and has no time for him, so he feels betrayed and angry as well. Carol has told all of their friends about Barry's affair, and he is furious about that as he feels their friends have all turned against him and they have not heard the other side of the story. In the meetings with their attorneys, Carol always seems to find a way to mention that one friend or other is "horrified" or "shocked" that he would cheat on her. Whenever she mentions a friend who is upset with Barry, he sees red. He starts to yell and scream and whatever is being discussed is dropped as he begins a tirade about her inappropriate sharing of informations with others. This is obviously not productive and whatever they may be able to resolve together in a collaborative way becomes impossible in this climate. Here comes the coach! The coach, knowing that any mention of a friend being upset with Barry will set him off, is able to set some rules for the meetings. The coach will talk about staying on topic, not bringing others into the discussion etc. When these rules are broken, she will intervene before it gets out of hand. For example, when Carol begins to mention a friend, the coach will interrupt, before she can get it out and say something like, " remember we talked about sticking to the topic and not bringing other folks into the discussion? This will help us maintain our focus and be able to explore the options so we can make some good decisions. Now, let's get back to the issue we were dsicussing."  This will prevent them form repeating some of their angriest arguments (at least in their joint meetings) and enable them to move on with the process. In other words, the coach can help identify hot buttons for each partner and help them recognize when they or their partners' button is being pushed, so it can be avoided. This is just one example of how a coach can be helpful.

Going through a divorce is an intense process and ideally, people come out of it without too many scars and hopefully with some self awareness which will enable them to move on in their independent lives. The coach's goal is to help the couple deal with each other is the most positive ways they can, with understanding and compassion.

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