Divorce, Uncoupling, and Discernment
The end of a marriage can be a painful process for all parties involved. Most couples will find it difficult to deal with the demands, both physical and financial, in addition to coping with the wide range of emotions that occur.
Psychologists who work with couples going through a divorce can help them open up about how the change is impacting their life and provide them with the tools to cope and manage their emotions.
No matter what caused the divorce, the fact is that most marriages were successful at some point. It is healthy for both parties to grieve that loss, feel angry, and experience doubt and regret. But if the sheer intensity of those feelings begins to have a negative impact on mental wellbeing, it is time to seek professional help.
Seeing a therapist can really help an individual manage these and other tough feelings. While going through a divorce, some couples choose to see a therapist together, which can help them to work together to end the marriage in a constructive and practical way.
Therapy is also beneficial for children experiencing divorce. Children often feel a strong sense of loss in the aftermath of a divorce, and a mental health professional can help them cope in healthy ways.
Conscience Uncoupling Therapy
When a couple decides to separate with the least amount of emotional damage as possible, it is known as “conscious uncoupling,” a term that has gained momentum in the last couple of years. It is common among couples who believe that, despite their relationship ending, it was successful at one point.
This form of dissolution encourages couples to make a smooth and painless transition toward the next stage in their lives. It also minimizes the negative impact a traditional divorce would have on any children they may have, as well as family and friends.
Conscience uncoupling challenges the traditional view of a breakup being a traumatic experience, and instead encourages couples to look at their separation as an opportunity to grow as individuals. Although adopting this model doesn’t eliminate all of the pain or heartache, it helps individuals reflect on who they are, engage in self-compassion, and be grateful for what the relationship offered them. Research shows individuals who choose conscious uncoupling rather than divorce are more optimistic about their futures, have more self-confidence, and fewer depressive symptoms.
Therapists who specialize in providing uncoupling therapy help their patients come to terms with their emotions, emerge from a breakup, and embrace how it provided them with insights into themselves and the people in their lives. Just as uncoupling puts emphasis on remaining mindful and having compassion for one another, so does this form of therapy. Mindfulness not only provides couples comfort, it helps people traverse the landscape of separation and divorce to minimize the pain and sadness that often accompany a drastic life change.
Discernment counseling is geared toward couples who are struggling with their marriage but are hesitant to call it quits and get a divorce. This form of therapy is a short-term solution. The focus is not on solving marital problems, but on exploring if the potential for a solution exists.
It is known to be appropriate for couples when one partner wants to repair the relationship and the other is leaning toward ending it.
Discernment counseling differs from marriage counseling because the goal is not to solve disputes, but to figure out if there is a way to solve them. It is most successful when both parties have clarity and confidence in their final decision, because they now understand what caused the demise of their relationship.
Therapists help patients by approaching their decision to end the relationship with respect and providing their perspective on whether there is a solution to restore the relationship.
A typical session allows each partner to engage in individual conversations and have an opportunity to share what they’ve learned because of these conversations. This is an opportunity for each partner to express how their needs differ and how their actions contribute to the problems and the possible solutions.
Couples who participate in discernment counseling can gain a lot of valuable insight into themselves and their relationship. The conversations that occur throughout each session often provide clarity and a deeper understanding of what happened to the relationship in the first place, and how each person contributed to those problems.
Once this occurs, a therapist will ask the couple to focus on the next steps in their relationship. Most treatment plans recommend that couples choose between three different options — end the relationship, enter couples counseling, or to stay the course and put off their decision until a later date.
If you'd like to talk to someone about divorce, uncoupling, and discernment, please contact us.