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Before, During and After: Therapy and Divorce

The Importance of Professional Counseling Both Before and After the Divorce

Jennifer Van Luven, MSW, LCSW, CDM

Just like marriage, divorce is one of life’s toughest transitions. Even though divorce is all too common, it is often extremely painful for all of the members of the family of the divorcing parties and even members of their extended families. Almost half of all marriages in the US end in divorce, and one-third of all ultimate breakups occur within the first five years of marriage – the time when many couples have started having children and gaining their footing in their new roles as parents. The seemingly enormous number of legal, emotional and nitty-gritty issues that need to be addressed in a divorce can feel overwhelming. The very idea of creating an entirely new life for yourself and any children involved can feel incapacitating.

It is important to realize that things do get better with the passage of time. In the interim, there are professional divorce counselors that can and will provide valuable advice and support through the divorce process. These therapists have inside knowledge of the family court systems in their area and the process that is ahead in most divorce cases. They can assist you in seeing how you can resume a fulfilling and successful life during and after divorce, minimize the impact of your divorce on any

children you have and better understand where the marriage relationship failed so you don’t make the same mistakes again.


Even if you tried marriage counseling, there are pre- and post-divorce counseling approaches that can help you, your children and your partner navigate through the painful divorce process and not only survive but thrive after the divorce is legally final.

Pre-Divorce Counseling: This involves a divorce counselor’s intervention prior to the divorce proceedings beginning. The therapist will assist both parties in learning to communicate effectively and appropriately during the process, continuing into the future. If children are involved, a civil and healthy divorce is essential. Pre-divorce counseling can not only assist couples in resolving parenting issues related to the divorce, but also help them each to provide a safe environment for telling children about the impending change.

Post-Divorce Counseling: The break-up of a committed relationship, especially a long term relationship, can trigger profound emotions of sadness, stress and grief. Life after divorce can feel overwhelming, and for

Many, the uncertainty about the future can seem worse than the unhappy relationship itself. Couples need strategies on how to navigate the stages of grief and loss, as well as discovering their new potential and creating a new normal for themselves and their children.

Recovering from a divorce is a grieving process with certain stages and steps that need to be acknowledged. It is important you allow yourself time to work through the process and grieve the loss of the relationship, the companionship, the support, and any future plans you had together.

This process is not meant to be accomplished alone – friends, family, support groups or a professional divorce counselor are all important in the divorce recovery process.

A divorce counselor can:

 Help you understand the stages of loss and grief and how to move through the continuum at the pace that is right for you. Teach you the coping skills required to deal with the emotional pain of divorce.

 Provide a forum for the entire family to receive counseling and support in a safe environment.

 Help you understand the reason the relationship failed and prevent future relationship problems.


About the Author: Jennifer Webbe VanLuven, MSW, LCSW, CDM received her Master of Social Work degree from Saint Louis University with a concentration in family systems and law. Jennifer provides private therapy dealing with adult issues, depression, anxiety, marital and relationship issues, as well as adolescent development and behavioral issues.Jennifer has extensive experience in family law and court room testifying. She assists couples in a peaceful resolution, where continued communication is imperative for raising healthy children. Along with private therapy services, Jennifer provides services to families who are in the midst of transition, as a Parent Coordinator, Co-Parent Counselor, Custody Evaluator and a Divorce Consultant.