Given that a separation is one of the most traumatic experiences people can endure, it is natural and advisable that they seek emotional support and advice. Unfortunately, many people turn to family and friends who mean well, but who may further fuel misunderstandings and conflict in wanting to help. Some seek the support of a therapist. I strongly advise that people do, since it is so important to care for oneself and seek perspective as one moves through the process of separating. However, bear in mind that a therapist’s role is to support their client, and they will only have one side of the story in a separation. A therapist’s words can also be fuel for conflict if misused or misrepresented.
A divorce coach is role that differs from that of a therapist. Perhaps the most essential quality of a divorce coach is that he or she maintains a perspective which holds the interests of the family as a whole. The goal is to obtain a separation agreement that works for both parties, and where there are children, upholds their best interests.
Divorce coaches are essential when you choose the collaborative legal process. They work with you individually and in 4 way meetings with your spouse and their coach, and are present at meetings with your lawyer and other professionals throughout the negotiation process.
Divorce coaches may also be retained to work with you when you are involved in a legal process other than collaborative law. It is best if both parties agree to have a divorce coach because then everyone can meet together in discussing and resolving the issues.
One final aspect of divorce coaching which I provide is a program called New Ways for Families. This is a structured program developed by Bill Eddy (see links) which helps parents build skills in three areas: flexible thinking, managing emotions and moderating behavior. Both parties agree to voluntarily participate in this program which involves a workbook, homework and meetings with a coach to help participants to apply their learning to their unique issues. The goal is to provide the means for more effective communication and problem-solving skills in future.