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March 2004

From Couch to Coach: A Purposeful Approach to Managing Divorce

Most people going through divorce do not travel too far along the journey without a lifeboat filled with a myriad of professionals. From lawyers to valuators, from mediators to therapists, clients are reeling in a cadre of multi-disciplined professionals to help them stay afloat. The divorce coach is yet another invaluable member of the team that lawyers and clients alike are turning to, to help guide and support clients as they voyage through the turbulent waters.

Whether it is working through historical issues, coping with anger, sadness, pain and loss and/or a variety of other emotions, an experienced therapist is an essential part of the divorce team. While therapy delves into the past and often takes its participants back in order to help them move forward, divorce coaching is yet another tool or support structure that is available to assist those going through divorce to move forward strategically and purposefully. Coaching helps clients achieve clarity and focus and determine steps for closing the gap between where the client is now and the desire future state.

The divorce coach works in a one-on-one partnership with his or her client. It is a collaborative relationship that focuses on continuous learning, growth and change and in the end, resulting in building the client’s internal resourcefulness. The coaching process aims to direct and/or re-direct the client’s energy and intention to increase motivation, achieve goals and maximize potential.

As stated by Timothy Gallwey, a Master Coach and author of The Inner Game of Work, “Coaching is not so much about telling the client what your know as it is about helping him discover what he already knows, or can find out for himself… Coaching can be viewed not so much as a process of adding as it is a process of subtracting, or unlearning whatever is getting in the way of movement toward the client’s desired goal.” Through coaching conversations, the divorce coach and client work together to create new learning, new possibilities, growth and results that are in service of the client’s goals.

While the client determines the content of the coaching conversation, it is the divorce coach’s role to be mindful that the conversation is purposeful and supportive and in service of assisting clients to meet stated objectives. Through this synergistic conversation the divorce coach helps his or her client to explore, think, challenge, delve and experience new ways of thinking and being. From inquiry to awareness, a keener sense of personal intention enables to explore new and alternative choices. Helping the divorce client to develop a greater sense of trust in themselves and their own resourcefulness and competence supports clients and their commitment to moving forward in new ways. This co-created multi-step dance does not begin and end with a vision, but rather breaks the vision down into concrete and manageable steps that consider questions such as: When? Where? How? What will support the client in forwarding the action? What if any additional resources, information, support, does the client need? As the client begins to take action, learning, insight and a heightened sense of self-awareness begin to take effect.

The unique contribution of divorce coaching assists clients not only in moving forward, but in doing so in a balance, positive and more satisfying manner. To quote Abigail Trafford, author of Crazy Time, Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life, “There is nothing easy about divorce. It is a savage emotional journey. You don’t know where it ends for a long time.” The divorce coach serves as an essential lifeline and a critical member of the multidisciplinary team whose primary goal is to help people achieve results and sustain life-changing behaviour as they navigate the uncharted waters of divorce.

Deborah L. Mecklinger, LL.B., M.S.W., is also a Professional Coach and can be reached at (415) 544-8001 or deb@walkthetalkcoaching.com.


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