When couples consider the idea of pursuing counseling, it is often in an effort to restore or rebuild a relationship in an effort to move forward together; however, occasions arise where the couple, facing irreconcilable differences, decides that the best option is to go through the process of separation. With over 1/3 of marriages in America ending in divorce, many couples are facing the disappointing realization their relationship with their significant other is at an end. In the same way that relationships can look very different from couple to couple, divorces, breakups, and separations all have very different impacts and implications for the individuals involved. Navigating the process involves facing not only a complex mix of emotions, but a new series of logistical challenges that can involve everything from differentiating up belongings and negotiating childcare.
What is Separation and Divorce Counseling?
Many do not consider the option of seeing a therapist for divorce/separation counseling. The idea of seeing a counselor as a couple typically evokes an idea of working together on relationship, but given that the relationship has ended, it seems an unnecessary step. In some cases, this might make sense; the dissolution of a shorter relationship can be a fairly short, straightforward process that may not require much extended involvement. But in many long-term relationships (especially those in which children become involved) the relationship doesn’t end at the time of divorce or separation, it merely transitions into a different type of relationship. It is this transition that is often painful to navigate, and that’s where the therapist comes in.
Because divorce/separation can look so different for everyone, needs often vary from client to client. As such, this type of counseling can take a few different forms. Flexibility in this area means that the client and therapist will be working together to identify what the client’s needs are during this transition, and how they can best be met in therapy.
Individual Counseling for Divorce, Separation, and Break-Ups
The end of a relationship involves a complex combination of emotions that differs from person to person; sadness, anger, hopelessness, anxiety, relief, disappointment, shock, and regret are all common responses to separation. As with many significant losses, many individuals in this position begin to move between different stages of grief, first denying the impact of the loss through a sensation of feeling numb or empty, before moving into other stages of anger or fear. Moving through this process alone is a challenge, especially given the way that the individual may experience confusing, conflicting emotions, or emotional states that vary unexpectedly from day to day. On some days, you feel angry and resentful and full of frustration, but on others you may feel sad, or even regretful as you consider the parts of the relationship you missed. Some days you may feel nothing at all.
Going through this process alone is challenging enough, but having to navigate the logistical challenges that accompany divorce or separation after a more involved relationship while under the distress of this transition can feel like an impossible task. Working through this time with a therapist can help you to feel supported, while also helping you to establish strategies for moving toward a life that feels fulfilling and satisfying again.
Couples Counseling for Divorce and Separation
Divorce, separations, and breakups can be such emotionally charged events that we can easily begin to lose sight of the fact that we often share a common goal with our ex-partner. We both want to move forward from here in ways that best promote our own success, growth, stability, happiness, and overall wellbeing.
For some couples, the built-up frustration or resentment may make it difficult to move toward this goal together. The dissolution of the romantic relationship does not necessarily mean that either individual wants to fall into a pattern of petty arguments that don’t help the process at all; it’s very often difficult to remain calm and civil during such emotionally distressing events. Sometimes, a therapist can guide the process in such a way that facilitates communication that is healthy, civil, and productive.
Divorce or separation often doesn’t mean the end of a relationship between two people; the intimate, romantic relationship may have ended, but a divorce after a long-term relationship can often mean a transition into more of a partnership. During stages after the initial split, it can be helpful to see a therapist together as a means of negotiating the boundaries of this new relationship. Clear boundaries are crucial to any healthy relationship, and this new partnership is no different; by having discussions around roles, boundaries, and the sort of partnership that is to exist moving forward, couples can clarify needs and expectations before miscommunication leads to additional conflict and hurt feelings.
Separation and Divorce Counseling in Chicago
The therapists at Bergen Counseling Center take a flexible approach to this type of counseling that is focused on the needs of each unique couple. With two conveniently located offices, we are able to offer options for divorce counseling in Chicago that can best meet your needs and help ease the transition. If you think you might benefit from divorce/separation counseling, or have questions about the process, call today for a quick, free consultation, or fill out the contact form on this page and we will reach out to you personally!