The effects of divorce are like those of other significant life-changing events, including natural disasters, illnesses, and serious accidents. The stages of grief-denial, pain and uncertainty, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance-are normal and typical experiences during the divorce process. Whether or not divorce is amicable or includes children or property, the process can cause serious and negative psychological issues such as anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression.
While many individuals seek an attorney to direct the legal side of the divorce process, seeking a licensed mental health professional is often ignored for many reasons, including limited financial resources, time, shame, and a belief that one can work through emotional problems alone. There also exists a myth that counseling is for “crazy” or “weak” people or for severe or long-term damage, however defined by a particular person. Thankfully, the stigma associated with mental health concerns is rapidly changing, and more individuals seek counseling for a variety of reasons. Although we advocate hiring an attorney to facilitate a divorce, we also encourage our clients seek a licensed mental health professional to address accompanying emotional burdens. Several counseling options are available during and after divorce.
Individual counseling teaches clients skills in stress reduction, mindfulness and provides tools to help rebuild your life during and after divorce. Counseling can also address other undesirable symptoms and behaviors that often accompany traumatic life events, such as addiction, eating disorders, and mood disorders that make life and divorce more difficult. Clients learn how to implement healthier coping strategies and activities into their lives to replace unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.
Like marriage counseling, divorce counseling allows both parties to jointly meet with the same counselor and address the impending life change, thoughts, emotions, and next steps. Rather than focusing on reconciliation, divorce counseling aims to reduce negativity between parties and make the process more peaceful.
Divorce is a life-changing event for children and can lead to negative consequences including reduced academic performance and increased symptoms of internalizing and externalizing thoughts and feelings. High-conflict parents in divorce can reduce impacts on children through co-parenting counseling. The counselor is a neutral third party who is trained to work with families, children, divorce, and parents who struggle to keep personal issues from parenting issues. Improving communication skills between parents is emphasized rather than reconciliation or the demise of the relationship. Counseling helps parents constructively discuss children’s school schedules, parenting time arrangements, and develop skills to manage emotions towards each other and prevent harm to children.
Finding Counseling Services
If you believe you would benefit from counseling, check with your insurance provider for in-network counselors and services covered. If you do not have insurance that covers counseling services or have limited income, many counselors provide services at reduced fees. After finding counselors that interest you, speak with them directly about payment. If you are a Hennepin County resident, visit https://www.caphennepin.org/community-resources/mental-health/ for more information on reduced-fee or free services.
Parties in divorce often lose their immediate circles of friends and family, but support groups can provide a safe place to find a community with those having similar experiences. It’s been reported that those with a minimal or non-existent social network after divorce respond more favorably to support groups than those with a stronger social network. Facilitated by licensed professionals, attendees learn skills to improve situations and address problems. Groups can specifically focus on divorce recovery or other areas such as eating disorders, addiction, self-esteem and mood disorders.
While support groups can be beneficial for anyone attending, they are particularly useful for busy schedules and limited finances, as many do not require a weekly commitment and are provided at a reduced rate. Visit https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/groups/minnesota to view groups, costs, and times in your area.
At Lake Harriet Law Office, we provide strong legal representation for our clients who are going through divorce and other family law matters. Please contact us to schedule a consultation at 612-750-4843.
Managing Attorney – Randall A. Smith
Student Attorney – Taylor Blatchford
Student Attorney – Katie Arndt
Student Attorney – McKenzie Harter
 See fn 1.
 The Family Journal, pg 372
 Journal of Divorce and Remarriage pg 104
 Id at 114.