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The importance of therapy in the divorce process


When people go through divorce, they're in what will be one of the most stressful experiences they'll ever go through. It's a time where there's a lot of fear, anger, and anxiety, and it affects individuals in a lot of different, sometimes unexpected ways. 

In some cases, one person initiates it and goes through a whole process of coming to that decision that's grueling in its own right. When that happens, the person who did not initiate the divorce is left to process the idea that "the person I married now wants to divorce me." In other cases, it's mutual, happening with either the bang of an explosive fight or the whimper of people just realizing they can't be happy together any longer.

It's not just the people getting divorced who are affected, of course. If they have children, it obviously affects the children emotionally, plus there's an additional level of worry and concern that parents will experience. It starts with how to tell the children about the divorce, and of course extends to parenting time and the realization that they won't be together as much as they once were.

These are all reasons that we strongly encourage all of our clients at the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance to see a therapist as they're going through the divorce process. You'd be surprised at how many people think they can handle divorce on their own. No matter how strong you are, you should know going into a divorce that a professional therapist is the best equipped professional to help you with what you're going through.

It's certainly helpful to lean on friends and family in times of need, and people who have those kind of people in their life will feel lucky and grateful to have them during the divorce. And there certainly are professions where people are trained in working through conflict, and talking to those people can help you.

But it's incredibly stressful to go through divorce, and might be beyond what those friends and family members can help you with. When you're seeing a mental health professional, that person has the professional training to help you navigate the emotions that come with divorce. If what you're experiencing is anxiety or depression, a mental health professional can recognize what you need, including medication if necessary, in order to better navigate those powerful emotions.

If you work someplace with an EAP (employee assistance program), you're usually able to see a licensed professional counselor without out-of-pocket expense for at least a few sessions. That can be a good first step, and it's something employers certainly understand. Divorce is common, and the emotions associated with divorce will affect you at work even if you believe you can just power through. It's a good resource that you should utilize if you have it available to you.

Finally, remember, as we remind our clients, your lawyer is not your counselor. In your initial consultations, you're revealing personal and even intimate details about your marriage, in order for your lawyer to better understand your case. It can be tempting, since you come to trust your lawyer with that personal information, to turn to your lawyer when you need to talk. But your lawyer doesn't have training in counseling; your lawyer has training in advocating for clients. Family lawyers, in particular, focus on getting the best possible divorce decree for their clients and their clients' children.

And while they understand the emotions involved, it's much better for everyone - not to mention less expensive - to let lawyers work on settling the divorce and counselors to work on what you're going through emotionally.

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