Divorcing couples are increasingly using financial and mental health support services to navigate what can be a very difficult and draining process. Divorce coaches are mental-health professionals that have received specialized training to help couples manage emotions, strengthen communication, facilitate conflict, and create plans to meet unique family needs. Usually, divorce coaches are part of a collaborative divorce team, but can also be used during mediated or litigated divorces.
Similar to the relationship you have with other professionals during a divorce, the key to an effective relationship with your divorce coach is understanding their role and being proactive. Here are some tips:
1. Utilize Their Expertise
The emotional toll of a divorce can be significant, so having a mental-health professional to help guide you through those emotions can be tremendously helpful. Divorce coaches excel in helping couples communicate better, manage conflict, and navigate strong emotions. Many couples forego divorce coaches, only to have their emotions play out through strong conflict that increases the emotional and financial costs of divorce. In the same way that your lawyer helps you to work through the legal issues of divorce, divorce coaches help you work through the emotional issues.
2. Set Goals
One of the most important things you should do with your divorce coach is to set goals. These goals should involve understanding your hopes and fears from your divorce, the key priorities you have for you and your family, and what you want from the divorce coaching process. This last piece is especially important to ensure that the work with your divorce coach is well-defined. For instance, you might want to focus on communicating more effectively so that you can have a healthier co-parenting relationship, or you may want your coach to help you be more assertive as you have always been conflict avoidant.
3. Be Honest with Your Coach
Being completely honest with your divorce coach is necessary to get the most of the relationship. You will waste time and money if you leave out important information or bend the truth. Having honesty and trust will also set the stage for the good working relationship you will need when you have struggles during the divorce.
4. Give Feedback
The relationship between you and your divorce coach is meant to be collaborative, and your coach should be open to your feedback. If you need more structure or input, let your coach know your concerns. However, remember that your coach might not always tell you what you want to hear. Going through a divorce is a difficult process (emotionally and financially) and nobody gets everything they want. Your coach might do a reality check with you at times.
5. Keep It Divorce Focused
Your divorce coach is there to help you with your divorce in order to keep the process focused on the present and to help you move forward. Your coach is not your therapist and isn’t there to help you understand why your marriage fell apart or to heal you from the divorce. Many people find it beneficial to enter or remain in therapy during a divorce because it is such a stressful process. The roles of a divorce coach and a therapist are very different, and you will make the most of your divorce coach if you have these roles clear.
Divorce coaches have a defined role in the Collaborative Divorce process, but they can also be utilized in mediation or litigated divorces. Some couples use one neutral divorce coach and sometimes it works best if each person has his/her own coach. These are issues you can better understand when you interview a few divorce coaches to find the right fit for you.
Divorce is a costly process, both financially and emotionally. A divorce coach can help you go through the process in the healthiest way possible and help you get on track to lead the life you want to lead post-divorce.