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Separation Counseling: Brief Interventions for Divorcing Couples
10 CEUs Separation Counseling: Brief Interventions for Divorcing Couples

Section 2
Coping with Divorce

Question 2 | Test | Table of Contents | Couples CEU Courses
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

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In the last section, we discussed the timetable to recovery.  There are three general stages to recovery.  They are hurting in the first few months, exploring in the first year, and becoming you in the next couple of years. 

In this section, we will discuss 5 Steps for Day to Day Survival.  As we discussed on section 1, the client’s goal for the first few months after divorce or separation are simply getting by from day to day.  I find 5 steps which can help client’s out in doing just that.  They are see a lawyer, plan finances, let people know, make a comfortable nest, and treat yourself.  As you listen to this section, consider your client’s status in separation stage one.  How might this considerations benefit your client?

The 5 Steps for Day to Day Survival  

♦ Step #1 - See a Lawyer

First, let’s discuss seeing a lawyer.As I stated to Carol, the importance of obtaining professional legal advice can’t be overestimated.  I stated, "The purpose of your first visit to a lawyer is not to arrive at final terms for separation, but to clarify your rights under the law."  Carol stated, "I don’t know if I can do it." 

How might you have responded to Carol?  I stated, "I realize it can sometimes be a tough step to take. When you walk into a lawyer’s office, you are leaping over a psychological hurdle.  It makes your divorce seem all the more concrete to expose your separation to a stranger."

♦ Step #2 - Plan your Finances

Next, let’s discuss planning finances.Carol stated that she didn’t want to get into a fight about money. One of the first things lawyers ask clients is to do complete a detailed statement of monthly income and expense. I stated to Carol, "There are two mistakes recently separated clients tend to make when it comes to financial settlements. One is to surrender financial rights by saying, ‘I want nothing from you,’ or, ‘You take everything.’ This can be a mistake. Not only would you be abdicating your legal rights, but you’d also be leaving yourself vulnerable to financial hardships in the future.  Another mistake clients sometimes make is to blindly trust a spouse’s word about support payments or division of assets, without getting it down in writing.  Binding, legal agreements protect you."

♦ Step #3 - Let People Know

In addition to seeing a lawyer and planning finances, a third step for clients is to let people know.  When I asked Carol how others felt about her divorce, she informed me that she really hadn’t told anyone yet.  How might you address letting people know with your client?  I stated, "Even though you may find it painful or embarrassing, there are some good practical reasons why you should let people know about your separation. You may find it more productive to clarify the situation. It helps prevent misunderstandings. Most of all, it helps you to accept your situation and to get on familiar terms with it." 

Carol asked, "Who should I tell and how should I tell them?"  How might you have responded to Carol?  I stated, "The people you tell might include friends, family members, colleagues and coworkers. Whoever you think should know or might want to know. Tell them in a simple, direct, even clinical manner. You don’t need to go into all the details or reasons at first. As you tell people, you’ll get a good sense of which ones feel supportive toward you by the way they respond. Not everyone will be supportive, but most will. Stay in contact with those who are. In a time of crisis, you need support and understanding more than anything. Don’t hesitate to ask for it."

♦ Step #4 - Make a Comfortable Nest

In addition to the other steps for survival during the initial phase of separation, a fourth step is to make a comfortable nest.As I stated to Carol, "This includes eating properly and getting good sleep.  But making a comfortable nest also includes taking care of your physical surroundings.  You deserve a nice place to live."  Making a comfortable nest may be a less pressing matter if your divorced client is staying in the home he or she occupied with his or her previous spouse.  However, for the client who is moving out, making a comfortable nest takes on a fundamental importance regarding not only the client’s well being, but also his or her recovery from the issues surrounding separation. 

♦ Step #5 - Treat Yourself

I felt that Carol would benefit from self enjoyment.  So I asked her to treat herself.I stated, "What would be nice for you?  Whatever you enjoy doing, now’s the time to do it.  When you were married, maybe there was never enough time for your favorite activities."  Carol responded by stating, "You’re right.  Well, not any more.  Now I come first."  As you can see, treating herself allowed Carol to take advantage of her new freedoms, thus embracing her separation from Richard.  How might treating themselves or these other survival steps benefit your client?

In this section, we discussed 5 Steps for Day to Day Survival.  As we discussed on section 1, the client’s goal for the first few months after divorce or separation are simply getting by from day to day.  I find 5 steps which can help client’s out in doing just that.  They are see a lawyer, plan finances, let people know, make a comfortable nest, and treat yourself.

In the next section, we will discuss being straight with the kids.  This will include five considerations for divorced or separated parents.  These are telling them what’s happening, reassure children with certainty, lifting blame, influencing a child’s development, and avoiding bad mouthing.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Boring, J. L., Sandler, I. N., Tein, J.-Y., Horan, J. J., & Vélez, C. E. (2015). Children of divorce–coping with divorce: A randomized control trial of an online prevention program for youth experiencing parental divorce. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83(5), 999–1005. 

Krumrei, E. J., Mahoney, A., & Pargament, K. I. (2011). Spiritual stress and coping model of divorce: A longitudinal study. Journal of Family Psychology, 25(6), 973–985.

Nash, B., & Chapman, N. A. (2019). Building a culture of caring: Lessons learned from managing professional expectations while navigating the emotional upheaval of divorce. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 29(2), 95–107.

O'Hara, K. L., Sandler, I. N., Wolchik, S. A., Tein, J.-Y., & Rhodes, C. A. (2019). Parenting time, parenting quality, interparental conflict, and mental health problems of children in high-conflict divorce. Journal of Family Psychology, 33(6), 690–703. 

Øverup, C. S., Ciprić, A., Gad Kjeld, S., Strizzi, J. M., Sander, S., Lange, T., & Hald, G. M. (2020). Cooperation after divorce: A randomized controlled trial of an online divorce intervention on hostility. Psychology of Violence.Advance online publication. 

Reed, K., Lucier-Greer, M., & Parker, T. S. (2016). Exploring parental divorce among emerging adult women: The roles of support networks and family relationships. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 47(3), 231–241. 

Question 2:  What are five steps which can help client’s get through the first few months after a divorce or separation? To select and enter your answer, go to the Test.

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