Transition Counseling / Divorce Counseling

Through darkness to daylight

The end of a relationship can be a very difficult and painful time. Feelings of loss, failure, bitterness, fear, anger, rejection and despair can dominate. So much is invested in an intimate relationship that when it doesn’t work out, there can be a great reckoning in one’s life – a time of tremendous upheaval and unknown. Many times, the separation or divorce process is akin to experiencing a death. And many times, the relational experiences that lead to the end of relationship can feel like a bruising battle.

This is where Transition Counseling comes in: to be a resource for people who are experiencing the distress connected with the break-up of an intimate partnership. It can sometimes be quite devastating to face the reality that a relationship is not going to work out. Trying to come to terms with this can be an agonizing experience in which one feels alone and broken-hearted. And, unfortunately, the ending of a relationship can also be an experience within which there is great acrimony, conflict and disrespect between the separating partners.

It is possible to transition out of a relationship in a collaborative and even healing way. This may seem impossible considering the conflicts or relational dysfunction that might have led to the break-up in the first place. But Transition Counseling can help the divorcing couple move through the process in a way that both honors the meaningfulness of the relationship and respects the impact of the decision that’s been made; that both reduces stress through supportive interaction and clarifies the boundaries necessary for transitioning out of the intimate partnership.

This might seem like questionable work but I believe it truly matters how we end relationships. So much so that it can affect the success of our subsequent relationship. And, of course, if there are kids involved, working on having as healthy a dissolution as possible is almost always in the kids’ best interests. The results of consciously going through a healthy break-up, can reduce the stress of co-parenting, and increase a child’s sense of stability and security.

Oftentimes people do not go through a collaborative transition and that can mean battles over money and – when there are kids involved – custody. These types of disputes can be very stressful and time-consuming, as well as expensive. Divorce Counseling can help the divorcing couple collaboratively develop basic frameworks for agreements that may help them complete a self-divorce, or at least minimize the amount of time needed with an attorney or certified mediator.

The end of a meaningful relationship and all it brings with it can be a traumatic experience. It is important to reach out for support and guidance. Depending on the intentions of my clients, I work collaboratively with couples and individuals to:

  • Create structure for transitioning out of the relationship
  • Engage in the grieving process in order to minimize the potential for anger, resentment and/or shame to lead to destructive or self-destructive behavior
  • Process feelings of rejection, anxiety, loss and despair
  • Explore fears about changing roles, identity and the future
  • Increase emotional resiliency and self-reliance
  • Prevent or shift from an adversarial to a collaborative dissolution approach
  • Create child-focused agreements that help their children through this difficult transition
  • Develop child-sharing plans
  • Clarify financial agreements
  • Clarify boundaries
  • Structure appropriate and effective co-parenting conversations
  • Provide support through the pain of custody disputes
  • Increase self-care during this painful time
  • Work towards acceptance and the embracing of new opportunities

Many hopes and dreams go into love; it is a terrible experience to feel the crashing of those dreams. I offer Transition and Divorce Counseling services (including Divorce Support Groups for men) as an opportunity to come to terms with the pain and then recover and grow. I have specific training, education and experience in working with individuals and couples going through transition and divorce, as well as with children of divorced or divorcing parents. Though at this time, I typically focus on working with the parents to help them and their children through this challenging experience, I do occasionally also work with the whole family, including the children when that feels clinically appropriate.

If you are seriously considering separation or divorce, if you are going through the pain of a relationship ending, or if you are needing support while dealing with a stressful divorce, contact me to schedule a free 15-minute conversation.

To make an appointment or for more information please call 415.339.8335 in Marin or 707.583.2353 in Sonoma. Copyright 2011 Doug Silberstein, MFT. All rights reserved.