Second to death of a spouse, divorce is the number two most stressful life event adults go through. It is a traumatic and difficult decision for all parties involved. Most (if not all) couples do not imagine at the beginning of their marriage that it will end in divorce, but sometimes people reach the decision that it will be healthier to separate. At Knoxville Counseling Services, we strive to help adults and children through the divorce process in a way that minimizes harmful effects on children and allows adults to separate in a healthy manner.
A couple's decision to divorce is sometimes reached after a period of marriage counseling and it can naturally transition into divorce counseling. Other times, one spouse has asked for a divorce and the other does not want one. This can look like one spouse internally processing this decision for a period of time and the other spouse feeling blindsided by this request, or after years of threatening/discussing divorce and one spouse decides to pursue that option. Working with a couple through the divorce process can help them process and manage the emotions of the separation, the loss of the relationship and future dreams, how to discuss this with children, re-defining the boundaries of the new relationship, and learning how to communicate in a healthy manner to co-parent if children are involved. This can provide more closure and resolution to the relationship and allow for all parties to be healthier in the next chapter of their lives. Divorce counseling looks similar to relationship counseling, just with different goals.
Research shows the number one predictor of how well children adjust to divorce is the quality of the parent's co-parenting relationship. We offer the services of helping parents learn how to raise children between two homes. These sessions can consist of educational material, communication strategies, and emotional processing of the relationship between the adults to learn how to put their children's needs first.
Emily Heird, LPC/MHSP is a trained Rule 31 Mediator and can help you and your spouse navigate the divorce process. She can facilitate discussions to develop a co-parenting plan and guide you through negotiations around your assets and debts. This is a route to take which will allow for the couple to look at creative solutions and have more power over the decisions made in the terms of the divorce. This also serves as major "prep work" before the information is taken to an attorney to draft the Marital Dissolution Agreement (MDA) and it is completed at a much lower hourly rate. Please see the Divorce Mediation Services page for more information.
A Collaborative Divorce is a legal process for how to get divorced. It is a team approach that consists of attorneys, a financial professional and a divorce coach (mental health professional) that helps the couple navigate the divorce process in a non-adversarial manner. All team members are committed by contract to help the couple reach agreement and all parties are agreeing to keep the process out of court. This is a supportive and restorative approach to divorce. In contrast with traditional litigation, it can be more efficient, more cost effective, and healthier for all involved. Emily Heird, LPC/MHSP and Amy Skinner, LPC/MHSP are trained Collaborative Divorce Coaches. Please visit the Collaborative Divorce page for more information.
As mentioned above, divorce can be traumatic and stressful. It turns your existing world upside down and you have to completely rebuild. Individual counseling can support you through the emotional ups and downs, help process and understand what happened and why, and take steps to rebuild.
Counseling for Children and Families
Divorce for children is also a traumatic experience. It shakes the foundation of the world they know and redefines it and their identity. Providing a space for the children to process their thoughts and feelings about the changes will help them adjust to their new life. They may experience anger, grief, anxiety, relief, excitement, and a variety of other emotions. Counseling will help them make sense of the events and their new world. We can also support the parents in meeting their children's emotional needs during this time, discuss how to navigate difficult conversations around why this is happening, and education on how to minimize negative effects on the children. Introducing new partners and blending families provides its own challenges and seeking support for your children and yourself during this time can be beneficial to forming these new relationships in a healthy manner.