Some people feel that a Divorce Coach is redundant and threatening to the other divorce professionals like attorneys or certified financial analysts or even therapists. Honestly, nothing could be further from the truth! Each professional has a role to play, and in my own experience going through divorce, I utilized many of them. A Divorce Coach, in the way I’ve been trained and practice, helps clients manage their fears and the decisions that need to be made. And there are a lot of decisions to be made!
A Divorce Coach is a thinking partner who brainstorms with a client how to be better prepared, consequently managing their budgets before going to a lawyer. As a result, the attorney gets a more credible client, and the client isn’t wasting time and money re-telling their divorce story each time they have an appointment.
Most people going through divorce aren’t sick or ill. They’re more frightened or acting out in reaction to disappointment, anger and loss. Up until now, a therapist has been the default place to go. I like therapists. But my work focuses on the present and the future. Most therapists look toward the past and how it’s affecting the present. Our work is different and sometimes both professionals are necessary.
Another misconception is that people think I’m telling my clients what to do. In actuality, telling someone what to do never works … remember being a teenager?
With a Divorce Coach, people get a place to manage feelings, think about what they want, strategize how to get what they want, and have time and space away from their responsibilities to heal. I’m a hand-holder to feelings that come up after a client leaves the attorney’s office or gets their divorce decree.
Going through divorce, emotionally charged people deal with needing to make a lot of really important decisions. Emotional decisions are expensive decisions. They’re being asked by courts, attorneys, friends, and children to make critical decisions or are encouraged to “just start dating again” or they imagine living with someone is a great, fun idea.
With a Divorce Coach, a client slows down the emotional roller coaster so decision-making can be given proper attention. The result is a calmer friend, mom, and colleague who’s navigating the loss while planning for their future. My clients make up their own minds. We examine different aspects and choices and then they test out what works for them. The outcomes are amazing. Instead of being an emotional wreck, clients are able to manage and show up for life.
A third misconception is that Divorce Coaching is a waste of time and money; that good friends and family are enough; or the healing lies in dating, or work becomes the focus and life just “is what it is.”
I cringe when I hear those words. I call the aftermath of a poorly navigated divorce “Post Traumatic Divorce Disorder™” and know when someone going through this experience isn’t getting help - they’re simply dating and having a lot of sex or they’re throwing themselves into their work or simply stuffing feelings down - the repercussions will bite them later.
These individuals look beaten up. They may or may not be as successful as they once were; they’re aging poorly and are in ill health. A lot of pessimism and loss permeates their self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth. They don’t want to settle but they do, and they don’t have the tools to heal because their ex still holds the mirror.
Know anyone two to seven years out from a divorce decree who's still stuck in the past and unhappy? Or someone whose joy has been taken and needs a safe place to heal and express? These walking wounded need help moving forward with their lives. A lot of my work focuses on these post-divorce issues. Clients take back the mirror held by their ex.
Laura Bonarrigo ACC, CDC Certified Divorce Coach®