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Divorce survival and recovery

Here are some questions that often come up when dealing with divorce.  If you are in the process of recovering from divorce, considering divorce, or trying to help your children live with divorce, we hope that you find some useful information here.   If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to call our office.  You may also want to take a look at our recommended reading list for books on divorce for adults, parents, and children.

  1. How can counseling help me heal from the pain of divorce?
  2. Divorce is like any other loss.  We grieve the death of the marriage, the loss of our dreams and plans for the future.  Additionally, we may have fears about changes in the future.  For many, divorce may trigger old issues from the past, such as feeling not good enough or feelings of abandonment.  Counseling can help you move through these feelings, so that you heal faster and have more emotional energy to cope with all of the practical issues that divorce brings.

  3. How can counseling help my children deal with divorce?
  4. Children have their own issues that come up during divorce.  They may feel that they are somehow the cause of the divorce, even though no one has ever said anything that would directly account for that.  That feeling is often a coping mechanism for dealing with the sense of no control that children often feel.  They may also worry that one or both parents may no longer love them, or that the family is “falling apart” and they won’t be taken care of.  These fears are often hard for children to verbalize, even to themselves.  Counseling can help them voice these fears, so that their parents can then reassure them.

  5. How can my ex-spouse and I best help our children?  How can counseling help?
  6. Children need to know that they are loved by both parents.  It helps them a lot if they can feel that, even though the marriage is over, their parents still treat each other with respect.  Anything that helps parents recover faster so that they can do that is important.  Children also need as much consistency and clarity as possible, so working together as parents is even more important after divorce.  Many parents find that a few sessions of “co-parenting” counseling is very helpful in working out how to handle rules and parenting in separate houses.

  7. What is the best sort of custody arrangement for children?
  8. The short answer here is whatever works best for your children, at their particular age.  Children need frequent contact and a strong relationship with both parents.  How to accomplish this will change as they grow through different developmental stages.  Infants may need to be mostly in Mom’s house, but with daily time with Dad.  Young children may benefit from a few days with one parent, then a few days with the other, so that they don’t go too long without either one.  Things change with school-age children, and teen-agers need the most flexibility of all.

  9. How do parents avoid problems in parenting during divorce?
  10. It’s very important to give children love and consistency, while still letting them know that there are rules.  A common problem after divorce is that children may “play one parent against the other”, in an attempt to please whichever parent they are with, or whichever parent they may feel most anxious about.  The best way to avoid this is good communication between the parents.  Don’t send messages through your children, and don’t take for granted that “this is how it’s done at the other house” is necessarily true.  It’s also very important to keep in close contact with your childrens’ teachers, so that if they see any problems they know to contact you sooner rather than later.

  11. Does insurance pay for therapy regarding divorce?
  12. Yes, any major medical insurance policy that covers therapy at all (and almost all do) will cover therapy for divorce.  It will either be billed as individual therapy if you or your child attends alone, or as family or conjoint therapy if multiple family members attend.  You will have to pay your portion as determined by your insurance policy.

    If you don’t have insurance and finances are a problem, an excellent low-fee solution in our community is the Community Counseling Center at Cal Lutheran University.  They can be reached at 805-493-3390.  Their website is http://www.callutheran.edu/community_counseling

  13. Can I see any therapist I choose using my insurance?
  14. If you have HMO insurance, you must pick a therapist from your HMO panel if you want your insurance to pay.  If you have PPO insurance, you probably are able to see therapists who are “out of network”, in addition to the therapists on your PPO panel.  You will want to check your benefits to find out what your portion of the fee will be in either situation.  Some plans have very generous out-of-network coverage, and some do not.  When you call to ask about therapy, the therapist can help you determine how to find out what your plans cover.

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