People often ask me what divorce counseling is; what do I actually do with clients? I love when people ask me this because I am so passionate about this aspect of my practice. I love to explain all the ways I can help people put their lives back together after a crisis like divorce.
One of the first things I do when I meet with a client is to assess where he/she is in terms of having their basic needs taken care of. Do they have a financial plan or do we need to work on some budgeting? Do they have housing in place or do they need some support going through the process of renting or buying or selling? Many people have never been completely in charge of their own finances (or at least not for a very long time), and many people have never signed a lease or gone through the process of buying/selling a house on their own. These things can be overwhelming when you are already emotionally drained from going through a divorce, so I help my clients with some very practical things like budgeting and housing, as well at other things like how to find a mechanic, or how to get the utilities put into their own name. Things that might seem simple when life is calm, suddenly become overwhelming when divorce takes over your life. I have a great network of professionals whom I can refer you to when you need something beyond my expertise.
This is the part many people think of when they think of counseling. Lots of working through a wide array of emotions. The advantage of doing this with a counselor rather than friends or family is that I am impartial, I have no need to try and fix anything for you or find a quick solution, and there is no judgment. You can be angry, hateful, sad, happy, relieved, or whatever it is you are feeling, and I will be there to listen, support, and help you heal. Often you will think that you have finished processing through something, only to find it comes back around again and you need to work through it in a new way. I will listen and support you for as long as it takes and I will never tell you to “just get over it and move on.”
No matter how long you have been married, your identity became tied up with being a husband or wife to another person. You arranged your life around being that person’s partner, whether it be changing friendships, incorporating in-laws into your life, becoming a parent, maybe even changing your job to accommodate your relationship. Now, you are no longer someone’s husband or wife, you may be a single parent, you may not have a way to support yourself financially, your friendships are different, your home life is different. Who are you?
These are things we will sort out in counseling. We may explore new career paths, do some inventories to find what you might be good at or enjoy. We may look at education – is this the right time to further your education and how can we make that work. You might need help transitioning from being a fulltime mom to being a financial provider. That will be a huge shift on many levels that we will work through. Your social network will probably be turned upside down so we will figure out how you can figure out who your friends are and how to get the support you need.
ORGANIZATION AND GOALS
When you are going through a divorce or are newly divorced, it can feel like your brain is in a fog and not quite awake. It can be hard to organize your day, to figure out what you need to do next. We will make lots of lists and prioritize things that need to be done, and help you figure out systems to keep yourself on track even when you are emotionally drained. I can be your back up brain when yours needs some rest.
It is so easy to let things slide like eating and exercise when your life has been turned into something unrecognizable to you. Unfortunately, that just leads to a deeper dive into anxiety, depression, fogginess, and generally feeling exhausted. I will try to help you find ways to supply your body with what it needs to keep going in the easiest way possible so that you don’t have to put too much work into it. Just like putting the proper fuel into your car rather than water, it’s important to give your body good fuel or it won’t run any better than a car with a tank full of water. If you need more help in that area than I can offer, I have a great team of nutrition and exercise experts ready to support you as well.
There really is a great deal that goes into divorce counseling. Yes, there is the expected part about working through emotions, but there is so much more. You really are not alone, there is so much I can support you with and guide you through so that you can not only survive, but hopefully come out better on the other side.