There’s usually a lot of focus on helping children and parents cope with divorce as it happens. But we believe that they should receive just as much (if not more) counseling after their divorce is finalized.
Here’s one good reason why family counseling and post-divorce therapy is necessary: a social psychologist from the Colorado State University recently found that 13.79 percent of fathers and 19.61 percent of mothers used direct and indirect methods of parental alienation. This refers to the collective efforts of a divorced parent to emotionally distance their child from the other parent.
Why do some parents feel the need to “brainwash” and distort their children’s perception of their ex? How do such actions affect children, and how can they recover from the emotional trauma that can result from having parents who explicitly sabotage one another? These are matters that we address and hope to resolve through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for families that have gone through a divorce.
The Goals of Family Therapy
What is the goal of family counseling? In the context of divorce, the goals of cognitive behavioral family therapy can be:
- To create a positive and cooperative parenting environment where children are not pulled into any unresolved conflict between the former spouses.
- To give ex-spouses a venue where they can address sensitive issues and resolve conflict without the children present.
- To foster a cooperative and at least civil relationship between the ex-spouses so that their children can feel supported and loved from both sides.
A court ruling finalizing a divorce doesn’t put an end to unresolved conflicts between parents and their children, but family counseling after a divorce can help them move in that direction.
Helping Children Deal with Divorced Parents
Divorce is sometimes necessary, but some children might have a hard time understanding that. Where parents cannot satisfy their questions or appease their hurt feelings, child-focused counseling and CBT may fill in.
There is another area in which these therapies can be helpful: treating anxiety among children of divorce. Studies show that kids experience anxiety, anger, disbelief, and distress in the first one to two years after their parents’ divorce.
Child psychiatrists note that, in their desire to reduce their children’s anxiety, parents coddle them and take over tasks that could have taught them valuable lessons on how to be independent, among other things.
Through family counseling and CBT, children can learn how to deal with divorced parents and the negative feelings they experience during and after the divorce process. Likewise, parents can also become more aware of their actions and the effect they have on their children.
How to Be a Family After Divorce
Ultimately, the purpose of undergoing post-divorce counseling and CBT is for families to heal. Counselors help them rebuild lines of communication, which are essential for regaining each other’s trust and respect.
Through post-divorce therapy, parents will have the tools to rebuild themselves outside of marital context. Everyone can learn healthy ways to deal with negative emotions and correct their problematic responses to them. In the process, they will learn how to become a family after the divorce.
Get the guidance and therapy your family needs at The Center of Cognitive Behavioral Health. Our highly trained family counselors and CBT therapists in Westport will assess your situation, listen to your needs and goals, and deliver a program that will help each member of your family deal with their unresolved hurts and worries.
Start your family’s healing at The Center of Cognitive Behavioral Health. Request an appointment today.