I believe everyone going through a divorce should talk with a mental health professional. Psychologist, therapist, social worker, take your pick. I don’t think I’m overreacting. This is a huge, life-changing event and it’s different from other life-changing events, like the death of a loved one or the birth of a baby. When a loved one dies or a baby is born, family and friends usually gather together to offer support and guidance. That’s not necessarily the case with divorce. Lots of people may want to be supportive when a friend or family member is getting divorced, but they often don’t know what to do and may even make the situation worse. Friends and family members are protective and usually not objective about the situation and often end up feeding the negative thoughts and behaviors instead of fostering constructive problem-solving.

People going through a divorce need an objective support person to help them look at the situation with an eye towards making the best decisions possible and also thinking about how the situation came about. That’s where a therapist can help. Therapists can help us gain insight into our thoughts, actions, attitudes, behaviors, etc. That insight is invaluable for individuals going through a divorce. At a time when everything about your life seems to be changing and you’re forced to make life-altering decisions, the better you can understand your own decision-making processes, the more you’ll be able to support yourself and your family.

I’ve had many clients tell me that they don’t need counseling because there’s nothing wrong with their decision-making. Their spouse is the one who needs counseling because he or she “decided to throw away their entire life together” or “can’t recognize all the problems that led to their separation” or all the other reasons to show why the other person isn’t thinking clearly. There are at least two sides to every story and there are at least two people involved in every relationship that’s ending. In my experience, both of those people could benefit from additional insight.

None of us have the ability to change anybody else. We can only change our reactions to others. That self-change can be the most positive outcome of a personal challenge like divorce, if we make it happen. It starts with increased self-awareness and insight, which is the purpose of engaging in therapy. If you’re getting divorced, you owe it to yourself and your family to get some professional help.

There are many qualified, experienced therapists in central Pennsylvania, including Carlisle, Harrisburg, Hershey, York and surrounding communities. If you would like to discuss counseling and divorce or any other family or estate planning issue, please contact me.