Not all marriages succeed and when a marriage ends, it can be stressful. Even when a spouse makes the decision to leave a marriage, that decision can produce a wide range of feelings and emotions, including anger, guilt, grief, anxiety, shame, fear, and confusion. The stress related to a divorce can become even more intense when children are involved. Therapy can be helpful whether an individual is trying to decide whether to stay in a marriage or needs help in making the transition to being single again.

Therapy for Divorcees

Divorce can be traumatic for both spouses. The process of ending a marriage can be financially, physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. Divorce therapy is typically conducted on an individual basis. Individuals who are going through a divorce may find that therapy can give them a rational and objective perspective while helping to alleviate feelings of anxiety, fear, depression, and guilt. Additionally, therapy can help individuals going through divorce learn more about themselves through personal development.

In some instances, divorce can contribute to or make certain mental health conditions worse. Such conditions include anxiety and depression. It’s not uncommon for many people to view divorce as a personal failure. Therapy can help by providing divorcing individuals with the opportunity to examine what they want and do not want from a relationship. This can prove to be helpful if you plan to become involved in another relationship in the future. The process of self-discovery that you go through in the period following a divorce can have a significant impact on future relationships, including how you choose a mate, how you handle future relationships, and possibly even the success rate for future relationships.

Therapy can also be beneficial for couples who are divorcing and who wish to do so in the healthiest and most constructive manner possible. In this type of therapy, the therapist may act as a mediator by establishing guidelines to limit emotional damage and hostility. Therapists can also assist in addressing such issues as financial obligations, living arrangements, and parenting responsibilities.

Mediation is sometimes considered as an alternative to taking divorce proceedings to court. Couples may choose to seek mediation for divorce on their own or it may be mandated by the court. As mediation makes it possible to consider factors that are not legally significant, it is sometimes a better option. During mediation, partners will have the opportunity to discuss division of assets, child custody, and other issues that could be potentially contentious. The role of the mediator is to help guide the couple in reaching an amicable agreement on their own. Compared to litigation, mediation is often less time consuming and expensive.

In some cases, individuals who are going through a divorce may find that therapy can help with adapting to life after divorce. It can take time to adjust to the changes that take place following a divorce. Regardless of who initiated the divorce, there is a period of adjustment. Newly single individuals may have concerns about employment, financial solvency, and housing. There could be stress over losing family members or friends following the divorce. Parents of children may feel overwhelmed emotionally and even guilty. The goal of divorce therapy is to help you work through these issues as part of the overall recovery process. An experienced therapist can assist you with developing coping techniques while taking advantage of a safe and encouraging environment during what is a difficult time.

Treatment Goals of Counseling

The treatment goals of therapy may vary among individuals, but the following are common for many people going through a divorce:

  • Accepting the end of the marriage. For many people this can be a difficult process, particularly if they did not initiate the divorce.
  • Achieving a relationship with the ex-spouse that is functional. An ongoing relationship may not be necessary when there are no children, but this can be especially important when children are involved.
  • Achieving emotional adjustment. Divorce can produce numerous negative emotions, but it is imperative that you not become stuck permanently in feelings of anger, guilt, or blaming yourself.
  • Developing an understanding of how you may have contributed to the failure of the marriage. The goal of this process is not self-blame but merely recognition of any dysfunctional behavior that might have led to the destruction of the marriage.
  • Identifying sources of social support. This can be quite important when relations and friendships become strained following the end of a marriage. For some people, it may be necessary to develop contacts with groups and individuals, both formal and informal, who can provide emotional support.
  • Learning to feel comfortable and competent following the divorce. While this is true for practically anyone, newly divorced parents may find this to be especially helpful in terms of negating feelings of guilt while feeling more confident about handling co-parenting responsibilities.
  • Develop health, personal, and physical habits that are beneficial for your own well-being. This could include addressing issues related to alcohol and drug usage, eating habits, grooming, hygiene, job performance, decision making, and financial management.
  • Learning how to use the period following the divorce for personal growth. Divorce often sets the stage of helping one to clarify their own values and priorities. During this time, you have an excellent opportunity to establish a new identity for yourself and even set new goals for your future.

Divorce can be an emotionally trying time. Regardless of how long the marriage lasted or why it failed, when a marriage ends, it can take an emotional toll. Working with an experienced therapist can help you learn how to put things in perspective and embark on a path of self- discovery. If you are contemplating divorce, going through a divorce currently, or have gone through a divorce in the past and you are struggling emotionally, now is the time to seek help.

If you find you relate to the information in this article and would like some help, please contact Rita with Sioux Falls Wellness Counseling at (605) 610-9228.


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Attn: Rita Hansen
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Sioux Falls, SD 57105

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