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I. What's it like to get divorce counseling?

Conflict is normal in any relationship, including marriage, but some couples struggle to address conflict in a productive way. If discussions with your spouse quickly turn into arguments, divorce counseling can help you find better ways to work through marital issues.

Divorce counseling is helpful in two situations. The first is if you and your spouse are wondering if your relationship can be salvaged before one of you files for divorce. In this situation, divorce counseling offers a safe space to discuss your problems and come to an agreement on whether you should file for divorce or try to work through your issues. The second is if you’ve already filed for divorce and need help working out the details. An experienced divorce counselor can help you make decisions regarding custody, alimony, and child support, preventing a drawn-out court battle that leads to lasting hurt.

Some couples manage to work through their issues without the help of a qualified therapist; however, going to divorce counseling has several benefits. One of the main benefits is that a divorce counselor is an objective observer. Your counselor can look at both sides of an issue and make recommendations without getting clouded by emotions. A counselor’s office is also a neutral location to discuss sensitive matters. Some couples find it easier to work through conflict when they can leave their discussions at the therapist’s office instead of having them at home.

Divorce counseling can help you decide if you really want to get a divorce or if you just need help resolving conflict within your marriage. A counselor can also help you improve your communication skills, so you can handle tough discussions without resorting to yelling or hurtful accusations. If it seems like you’re always arguing with your spouse, it may be time to meet with a divorce counselor.

II. How to find a divorce counselor

Finding the right therapist is essential to ensure you and your spouse feel comfortable opening up about marital issues. As you search for a divorce counselor near you, consider who would do the best job putting you both at ease.

Many couples feel more comfortable talking with a therapist who’s around their age. You may also prefer to work with a therapist who shares your religious beliefs or is well-versed in helping LGBTQ couples. You may choose a therapist who has experience assisting interracial couples resolve conflict.

Qualifications are also an important consideration when selecting a divorce counselor. Look for a licensed marriage and family therapist with applicable credentials toward helping couples work through their relationship problems. The more experience they have, the better.

For some couples, the cost is one of the most critical factors in choosing a divorce counselor. Many therapists accept multiple insurance plans, so check with your insurance company to determine if your preferred therapist is an in-network provider. If you’re paying out of pocket, look for a divorce counselor near you whose fee schedule fits your budget. Some therapists offer discounts to patients who pay in cash rather than using their insurance benefits, making divorce counseling more affordable.

III. What does divorce counseling help with?

People seek help from divorce counselors for a variety of issues. Common marital problems include:

  • Communication problems: If you and your spouse have different communication styles, you may find it difficult to get your points across without resorting to arguing.
  • Intimacy issues: Some couples have difficulty maintaining an intimate connection due to the stresses of working, raising children and managing a household.
  • Mental illness: If a spouse has depression, generalized anxiety or another psychological disorder, the symptoms of that disorder can have adverse effects on a marriage.
  • Healing from trauma: Some marriages start to suffer after a couple goes through a traumatic event, such as a home robbery or the death of a child.
  • Disagreements over child-rearing: Spouses don’t always agree on the best way to raise children, and some couples differ on whether they should even have children.
  • Household expectations: Divorce counseling can help spouses who disagree on who should do certain chores or how those chores should be done.

IV. How can you prepare for divorce counseling?

Preparing for your first counseling session makes it easier for a therapist to determine the best way to help you and your spouse. Before your first appointment, write down the issues you want to address. Make a note of how long each issue has been going on and what you’ve already tried to resolve it. If you’ve already decided to get divorced, write down what you hope to achieve in your counseling sessions.

V. What are common divorce counseling recommendations?

Counselors use several techniques to help couples work through their marital issues or gain closure after a divorce. Learn more about these techniques:

Cognitive behavioral therapy

CBT is used to help couples struggling with marital discord achieve specific goals. For couples considering divorce, CBT may be used to help each spouse change the way they think, feel, or act. When guided by a licensed professional counselor or marriage and family therapist, CBT can be helpful for adjusting a spouse’s expectations or addressing a lack of intimacy.

Imago relationship therapy

Imago relationship therapy helps couples resolve conflicts by building stronger connections. Developers Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt recognized that childhood wounds continue to affect people well into adulthood. These wounds, including neglect and feelings of abandonment, are core issues contributing to marital conflict. Dr. Hendrix and Dr. Hunt developed Imago relationship therapy to help couples work through these wounds so they can do a better job relating to each other.

The Gottman method

The purpose of the Gottman method is to help couples find shared meaning in everyday activities. If you work with a therapist who uses this method, you’ll participate in exercises designed to help you and your spouse manage conflict effectively. You’ll also have opportunities to strengthen your friendship and learn how to turn toward your spouse instead of away when things get stressful.

Solution-focused therapy

Solution-focused therapy helps couples improve their coping skills and build new strengths. If you and your spouse have difficulty overcoming stressful situations, solution-focused therapy can help you develop new tools for resolving conflict in a healthy way.

VI. What else can help?

In addition to meeting with a divorce counselor near you, a few lifestyle changes can help you resolve conflict before it turns into an argument. Stress relief is especially important, as it’s easier to discuss tough issues when you’re not stressed by work, parenting, and other aspects of your daily life. Meditating, doing yoga, and listening to calming music can help you reduce stress and put you in a better frame of mind for addressing your relationship problems.

VII. Sources

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