When facing a separation or divorce clients need support from both lawyers and therapists, though they fulfill different roles in this process, they can collaborate to provide services that will aid the individuals and families involved to a more satisfactory resolution.
Some of the needs of client's facing a separation or divorce can be addressed by either a therapist or lawyer, however both professionals need to be cognizant of their scope of practice, as neither should be fulfilling the role of the other. Given the emotional climate a separation or divorce endures, clients share their most private thoughts, feelings and experiences that will require of these professionals to consult and refer out to the other to assure the appropriate, ethical and evidence based practices/services are being provided accordingly.
With regards to therapeutic services for this target population, that might be sought out at different stages of this very difficult decision, including: Pre-Divorce counseling, during the actual divorce process, or post- divorce, therapists can help using different appropriate and effective approaches for the individuals, couples and/or families to process conflicting emotions, relational issues, life altering changes and decisions to be made, and develop insight and skills needed to repair themselves and their life. In this therapeutic process some discussion and questions will come that are more suitable for lawyers or mediators, as therapist are not trained nor should provide and legal counseling/advice or representation.
Within this population counselors and lawyers address some similar client concerns/needs, however very differently. As counselors mostly focus on the mental, emotional, relational factors of their client and lawyers focus on the applicable laws and rights with respect to their case. Common concerns and needs this population brings to a lawyer and/or counselor:
- Clarification of what they want to achieve during the divorce process
- Identification of their concerns about the divorce
- Finding ways to articulate those goals and concerns
- Development of skills in asking for what they need
- Developing the strength and support to take decisive action
- Determining what things fall within their control or influence
- Finding ways to accept realities lie outside of their control
- Getting closure and planning the next stage of their lives
Note, both lawyers and counselors can be hired to help with the separation and/or divorce process, however it is not their place to advise their clients to get a divorce.