Many of us bristle at the idea of going to therapy. Paying someone to listen to us talk about our problems may seem self-indulgent and unlikely to have value. My first time in regular individual therapy was when I began to contemplate divorce, and I continued with my therapist for about a year after my divorce. Through my own personal experience as well as working with hundreds of clients during 11 years of practicing exclusively family law, I have become a big believer in the power of therapy. Here are the reasons why.
1.) Therapy helps you separate the emotional aspect of your situation from the legal decision making. Many of the decisions you make during divorce are business decisions and must be evaluated objectively. Does it make sense to spend $10,000 on an attorney to fight over the household furniture, which is probably worth $5,000? The answer may seem obvious to some, but to someone feeling pain and anger during the divorce process, their gut may say to fight like hell because that furniture was a gift to the couple from beloved aunt June and picked out by the client with great care and attention to building a nice home. Emotions can also affect decision making about the children. For example, a client’s gut instinct might be to fight for the other parent to have as little time with the children as possible, because they are deeply hurt and angry that the ex left them for someone else. Their emotions might tell them that clearly the ex doesn’t love the children, because they abandoned their family by leaving so it’s best for the children to have as little contact as possible with this wretched person. Strong emotions can cloud our judgment and blind us from seeing situations as they truly are. Addressing these emotions in therapy makes you much better equipped to make decisions about strategy in your legal case.
2.) I observe over and over that clients who participate in therapy obtain better results in their case and with lower attorney’s fees. This is directly tied to my first point. The difference between a client who is in regular therapy and a client who is not is truly astonishing. Since a client in therapy is better able to separate emotions from the legal case, their meetings with their legal team are more efficient. They do not use their legal dollar to discuss their anger or hurt with an attorney who is not as effective as a trained therapist in addressing the emotional issues yet charges much more per hour. They are better able to commit to a strategy rather than constantly second guessing themselves and changing their desired outcome which creates more work for the legal team. They also do not spend attorney’s fees by insisting on bringing a weak case to trial or spending more on attorney’s than the value of the assets that they seek. Because of this, clients who go to regular individual therapy obtain better results and spend less to resolve their case.
3.) You will be better equipped to make the best decisions for your children during the process by speaking with an expert familiar with the latest research on psychology and divorce. A therapist can be a good adviser on parenting and co-parenting, and may even be able to help you craft a parenting plan that is best for your children while taking into account your own personal concerns.
4.) A therapist can help you evaluate your contribution to the failure in the relationship so you don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. This is the exact reason why I spent a year in individual therapy after my own divorce. Even if you are in a situation where it seems clear that the reason for divorce was your spouse, such as infidelity or a substance abuse problem, there is always something that we could have done better. Our own fault or contribution might have been ignoring red flags and not setting personal boundaries. Whatever the reasons for your divorce, it is important to truly evaluate yourself and determine what you can do to have healthier relationships going forward – even if that just means learning skills in how to choose a more compatible partner.
5.) Therapy will help you let go of the past and focus on creating a more fulfilling life. Many of us have a hard time letting go of anger and hurt, or we let our past experiences cloud our current view and end up unfairly judging others. The blessing of divorce is you are given a fresh start. Therapy will help you make the most of this fresh start and create clear goals along with the steps to achieve them.
At the Atlanta Divorce Law Group, our passion is to help each client find their Happily Ever After Divorce and end up in a better place than they were at our initial consultation. We know from personal and professional experience that regular therapy is a big component in achieving this goal. This is why we strongly encourage each client to work regularly with an individual therapist through the process and are happy to give referrals to vetted therapists who have helped many others work through divorce and create a happier life.