Spotlight: Mental Health Resources
Table of Contents
Introduction: Divorce & Mental Health
When going through a divorce, there are so many aspects to think about: finances, legal matters, and real estate. Oftentimes, you forget to check in with yourself: How are you feeling? What emotions are you experiencing? Which emotional stage of the divorce are you at: shock, denial, anger and blaming, bargaining, depression, acceptance, or rebuilding? Do you feel you’re in a good place to negotiate with a partner in a civil manner? Are you equipped to handle a conversation about divorce with your children? And do you have the resources, skills, and support team to move on, post-divorce, transitioning from married life to single life?
Typically, divorcing individuals push these questions to the wayside, focusing on what they believe to be the more important issues, such as who gets the house, how will child custody work, or the amount of child support they’ll have to pay. Although these are all critical subjects, none can be determined if you don’t look after your mental health. If you put your mental health first, the rest will (somewhat) fall into place. You’ll experience better negotiation with your ex, greater confidence, and an improved capability to communicate the situation to your kids.
To help you understand the importance of good mental health practices during a dissolution and provide resources to achieve said self-care, DivorceForce developed this mental health guide to divorce. We delve into how marriage counseling can assist you in determining if you’re truly ready for the split, how to process your feelings, the importance of divorce counselors, coaches, and support groups, and how children can benefit from therapy.
How Marriage Counseling Can Determine the State of Your Relationship
In some cases, both partners can definitively determine their relationship is over, without external intervention. Others require the help of a marriage counselor to establish the state of the relationship. Couples typically seek help when they experience emotional and physical distance, infidelity, financial stress, or escalated arguments. In such instances, both or one party is unsure whether they should stay in the relationship or begin divorce proceedings.
A marriage counselor assists couples in resolving conflicts and rebuilding their relationship. Such counseling is typically completed with both partners through introspection and communication. However, it can be done one on one. Each session will dive into the past and current state of your marriage, its strengths and weaknesses, and the goals you have for the future. Most counselors will give you homework to practice the skills learned. Throughout these visits, the therapist will help you get to the root of your issues, develop goals and a timeline, learn new skills, provide a safe setting, and—most importantly—clarify your feelings for one another.
Although your intention may be to determine whether your marriage can survive, your counselor will not push you toward divorce or remaining in the relationship—even if they believe the marriage is more harmful than helpful. Instead of nudging you in one direction, they may ask questions to prompt you to be decisive about the situation.
Find a marriage counselor here.
Processing Your Feelings During Divorce
If you’re going through a divorce, you’ll experience a million emotions at once: uncertainty, anxiety, grief, anger, relief, and many more. Because your mind is racing, it can be difficult to process your feelings.
Before your divorce, it’s common to experience pre-divorce anxiety. You’re likely wondering, “How can I manage to get through this until I file?” First, educate yourself. Research laws, the legal process, potential attorneys, support groups, and financial information. Then, consider all the potential outcomes—including the worst thing that could happen—make time for legal paperwork and attorney consultations, be mindful of who you surround yourself with, and try to relax and live your life.
As you continue to go through your divorce, moving forward toward mediations, upcoming court dates, or other stressful events, you’ll feel a strain on your mental health. Lean into your emotional pain so you understand and feel all of it, but don’t sit with it for too long. Try various tactics to calm your mind such as meditation, practicing your breath, taking a long bath, trying yoga, or committing to other physical activities. It’s also important you find an outlet to release your emotions, whether through words or tears. Speak with a licensed therapist or join a support group to discuss your situation and parse through your feelings.
So, what about after the divorce? The key to thrive following divorce is different for everyone, because each person has varying goals and desires. Generally, people who excel after divorce refuse to pretend they’re OK. This means visiting a therapist, speaking openly with family and friends about your feelings, and joining a support group—but they also know how to let loose and have fun. Some days, it’s best to just forget about the serious business of divorce and join your friends for a night out on the town.
Children & Therapy
Parents aren’t the only ones who need to work through their emotions. Because 72 percent of divorces occur within the first 14 years of marriage, young children are often impacted by the life-changing event, causing a stressful and unnerving experience for them.
According to Psychology Today, many children experience “dis-empowerment,” meaning they typically feel unsupported as both parents are consumed with the legal dispute. It’s imperative you recognize such signs before feelings worsen. And if you do? Try therapy. While alleviating symptoms such as eating or sleeping issues, melancholy, disinterest in previous interests, or poor school performance, therapy can provide a slew of benefits, at every age.
- Children Under 5: Therapy helps children develop coping mechanisms and family routines.
- Ages 5 to 12: Therapy consists of one-on-one sessions, during which the psychologist will explain the divorce and assist in sorting out emotions.
- Teens: At this age, therapy focuses on providing teens with support, a place to express their emotions, and healthy coping mechanisms.
Types of Divorce Support Groups & Characteristics to Consider
As you navigate your emotions during divorce, it’s critical to have a support group you can lean on. Divorce support groups are gatherings of individuals who have also gone through divorce. Such organizations offer guidance, empathy, assistance, and new friendships during this emotionally trying time.
There are four major types of support groups available: self-help, religious, therapeutic, and online. Digital support groups occur on the web at specific sites or in chat rooms. Therapeutic groups involve the presence of a licensed professional such as psychologist, therapist, or counselor. Religious groups are sponsored by religious organizations and run by pastors, priests, or other clergy members. Self-help meet-ups are not hosted by licensed professionals or religious figures, but by members of the group.
So, how do you choose which group is best for you? Compare the characteristics of each to determine which you’d find the most supportive for your personality type and situation. Such factors include facilitator credibility, meeting location, group size, attendance expectations, personal preferences and beliefs, and cost.
Although support groups can be helpful, some may need on-on-one aid, such as a divorce counselor.
The Benefits of Divorce Counseling
One of the best ways to care for yourself at this tumultuous time is through divorce counseling. Such support can begin pre-, during, or post-divorce to assist in navigating the split in a healthy manner. A therapist can provide you with the skills to effectively communicate with your soon-to-be-ex in a civil manner, teach you how to deal with your emotions, and provide healthy coping mechanisms.
The major benefits of divorce counseling include:
- New techniques to resolve conflict
- Guidance on your future as a single individual
- Addressing unresolved issues, and gain closure
- Learn how to manage negative feelings
- Understanding the pitfalls of the marriage and how to avoid them in future relationships
- Achieving a clear headspace to work better with your lawyer
- Assist your children through the coping process
- Having a support system outside of your family and friends
Find a divorce coach here.
If you’re in need of additional support with mental health, real estate, legal, and financial matters, it’s a good idea to enlist a divorce coach.
Why You Should Enlist a Divorce Coach
A divorce coach possesses the knowledge to guide you through the divorce, ensuring a seamless and less stressful process. Such coaches specialize in finance, law, mental health, or all three. Research and interview multiple coaches to determine which can fulfill your specific needs.
Divorce coaches are available to assist you in making decisions about your personal, professional, and financial future. They’ll also assist you through the entire process so you achieve the most equitable outcome. Coaches can conduct a marriage assessment, provide resources, assess counseling needs, prepare you for the process, organize and compile financial and personal documents, answer any questions you have, and act as a support system. After your divorce, they can help you set short- and long-term goals and create a plan to reach them.
If you’re interested in enlisting a divorce coach to provide support throughout this life-changing process, review DivorceForce’s database of professionals. You can browse several life coaches near you before you choose the right one.