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Therapy and divorce

Thoughts from a therapist on how and when to decide what you need from a therapist when you are going through a divorce and does it matter if you are the one who decided that it was time for divorce?

Hopefully, if you go to a therapist before, during, or after a divorce, you will have a skilled clinician who will help you figure out what it is you want from the counseling experience. Individuals can be very vulnerable during the divorce process (and at other times in their lives). There are often many factors impacting a person’s decision to divorce, and sometimes influences that pre-date the marriage get stirred up as a result of the natural course of life. Therapy at this pivotal time, can be a healing process, if desired.

Ultimately, decisions about divorce are made by one or both people in the marriage, and it is a therapist’s responsibility to respect the wishes of his or her client in terms of assisting the client with the process of divorce, working through ambivalence, or getting over hurt and angry feelings, to name a few situations. Even if you are the one who seeks the divorce, therapy can provide you a place to begin and/or continue the process of moving on.

It is important to take care of yourself when going through a divorce, and it is important for your children’s well-being, if you have children, that you are healthy, both physically and emotionally. Talk with your therapist about what may be right for you. Sometimes, these life-changing experiences present the opportunity to reassess goals, friendships, careers, and intentions, and it can be a time of growth and discovering one’s untapped strengths and interests.

Statistically, second and third marriages have a higher rate of divorce than first marriages yet statistics are not predictive. Rather, they inform us of potential situations for which we may want to prepare. Working with a therapist after divorce may help you come to terms with and grieve the end of a relationship as well as help you learn new ways of relating. It can be a real strength to learn more about yourself and mature into a person who takes his or her own best advice.

Sarah Wilhelms, MSW, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker in Missouri. She has a bachelor of arts degree with honors and a Master of Social Work with honors, both from Washington University in St. Louis. Sarah has been a social work clinician over 15 years with professional experience in family custody and visitation matters, grief and loss, foster care and adoption, healthcare, child development, developmental and learning disabilities, and trauma. For more information, you may contact her at 314-605-9635.