Divorce Coach's Role in the Collaborative Process
What is a Divorce Coach?
A Collaborative Divorce Coach is a licensed mental health professional who has experience in issues related to separation, divorce, and remarriage. The Coach has training and expertise in family dynamics, communication skills, mediation, and the Collaborative law process. This background enables the coach to help one or both members of a divorcing couple deal with the emotional and psychological challenges of their divorce. Although the Coach uses therapeutic skills, the Coach does not function as a therapist in this role.
Why use a Coach?
Divorce is more than a legal process:
Divorce is usually thought of as only a legal process in which couples hire attorneys, may go to court, and come out with a document (some paperwork) that officially ends the marriage in the eyes of the law. However, Collaborative team professionals understand that separation or divorce is much more than just a legal process. It is an emotional, social, spiritual, and financial journey that includes a legal event as one step along the way. Just as marriage is much more than a “piece of paper,” the process of divorce is far more than simply “signing the final agreement.” The emotional journey of divorce involves letting go of old ways of relating (as spouses) and learning new ways of acting including how to be co-parents if the couple has children.
Strong feelings can get in the way:
Research has shown that divorce is one of the most stressful life events a person can face. It is a major life transition and can be a very disorienting experience. For most people, getting divorced involves loss on many levels. These can include loss of control, loss of a dream, loss of trust, loss of stability, loss of a best friend, loss of financial security, loss of connection to shared friends and community, and loss of identity as a married person, among others.
Given this level of life disruption, powerful feelings of anger and grief about the end of the marriage are common. So are anxious thoughts about the future such as “Will I be okay?” These thoughts and feelings are normal as divorcing couples go through this transition. Nonetheless, they can and often do hinder the divorce process. For example, one spouse’s anger at the other spouse may prompt acting out in an effort to retaliate. Fear of the unknown may cause them to stall the process. Grief about what has been lost may hamper their ability to visualize and move toward a different future. Many people feel ruled by their emotions at this time that can keep them from making sound decisions.