Therapy for Separation and Divorce
Our psychologists offer therapeutic support for adults dealing with relationship separation and divorce. It is important to have a place to process the many feelings around a relationship loss. Also, by taking care of yourself, you take care of others who might be dependent on you, which may include children.
We also offer services for children (10+) and teens whose parents have separated and who may be in need of their own therapeutic support. However, please be aware that in these latter situations, when a formally custody agreement is not yet decided or when a joint legal custody exists between parents, we will need consent from both parents to begin a course of child or adolescent therapy. Also be aware that in such cases, the role of the psychologist is to be a support to the child, which does not involve taking sides with either parent or having opinions about parental capacity that could be intended for court use.
Tips for Parents:
Never say anything bad about the other parent in front of your child. You need to give them permission to be able to continue loving the other parent and to accept their love. Do not let your own feelings get in the way of that. In addition, when they get older and suspect that you were distorting things in a way that may have negatively impacted their relationship with the other parent they will resent you for it. You do not have to lie to your child, but there are some things that are not age appropriate for children to hear and things they do not need to hear. When the other parent drops the ball, get used to saying things like: “I think they are doing the best they can…”, “mom/dad must have forgot xyz, but I know they love you and it was probably just a mistake…”, “Just because mom/dad is angry with me, does not mean they are angry at you…” “That’s between your mom and I…”, and so on.
If you hear something inappropriate coming from the other parent – through the child – do not encourage it further by asking about details or relaying messages back. This is how kids can get ‘caught in the middle’ between parents. Children are excellent at ‘reading’ their parents communication. If this goes on for too long, they may begin telling you want they think you want to hear (e.g. saying something negative about the other parent), which may make it difficult for them to say what they really think or feel. If your child is being exposed to inappropriate comments or materials, try to brush it off by saying “mom/dad was probably just mad when they said that…” or “these kinds of things are for your mom/dad and I to sort out and you do not need to get involved…”, then try to bring up your concern with the other parent when you are in a calm state of mind and when your child is not present.
Keep in mind that this can be a very confusing time for kids and it is important for them to feel like they are still going to be safe and protected by parents who love them and that their life is going to be stable. Ask your kids about how they are feeling. Do not assume that they will come to you with their worries, fears, or sadness. The best way to ensure that children make it through this process in a healthy way is to ensure that they are talking about the feelings with the people who love them.