Seeing a Therapist During Divorce

PsychologistIt is not uncommon for clients to need emotional support as they wade through the extremely stressful divorce process. Sometimes clients are reluctant to either commence or continue a therapeutic relationship for fear that seeking therapy is evidence of “instability” and that it may be used against him or her, particularly in an embittered custody dispute.

Generally, clients should not be concerned that attending individual therapy will cast a negative light on him or her. It is quite the opposite. Many lawyers (myself included) encourage clients seek therapy to deal with the difficulties of divorce.

It is important that you feel like you have someone you can share your feels with and a professionally trained therapist is better equipped (and usually less costly) than your lawyer to rely upon for emotional support. Critically, the therapist/patient relationship is entirely confidential. Nothing disclosed in therapy will be disclosed to your spouse, his or her counsel, or the court.

It is quite a different story, however, when the court orders a party to a divorce action to attend therapy or to be subjected to a mental health examination. This usually happens in a custody dispute and the court seeks a written report from the therapist or evaluator summarizing his or her findings. In this situation, nothing is considered confidential and the information will be used in helping the court determine a custody arrangement.

Most people benefit from seeing a therapist, and this may prevent the divorce process from escalating to the point where the court is compelled to appoint a professional. The parties can more efficiently and reasonably address the issues if they are caring for themselves emotionally first.

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