A divorce can occur for a myriad of reasons, and no case is the same. While infidelity and incompatibility are the most frequently cited causes for the dissolution of a marriage,  factors such as gender, socioeconomic status, and life course variables can also play a  role. The post-divorce adjustment process can be grueling for divorcees, and especially adolescent children if they are involved. The emotional, legal and financial stress of a  divorce can increase the symptoms of depression, and strain the mental health of all parties involved. Fortunately, however, these effects can be mitigated by pursuing divorce therapy in the form of individual or group counseling.

Reasons for Divorce

Divorce is a multifaceted issue that occurs over time. When examining the reasons that people get divorced, there are three important factors that need to be taken into consideration- gender, socioeconomic status, and life-course variables. Variances in these factors lead to different internal and external problems, which lead to different causes for a divorce.

Differences in life course variables are the final factor that lead to divorce. Life-course variables are events that happen at a specific or extended period of time in one’s life. The most pertinent life course variables in regards to divorce are age at marriage and the presence of children. Those that marry at a young age are more susceptible to divorce for two reasons. They may not be as psychologically mature as their older counterparts,  meaning they are more likely to change and grow apart with time. The other reason is that marital happiness declines over the long term, so younger couples have a larger window of time to experience this.

Divorce Therapy

Divorce is a difficult, life-altering experience that is mentally, emotionally, and financially agonizing for both partners. In many ways, divorce is a recovery process that nobody should have to endure on their own. A person going through a divorce may experience feelings of guilt, fear, anxiety, depression, and grief. For those that previously struggled with mental health issues, specifically anxiety and depression, the process of a  divorce can exacerbate these problems as they may view the divorce as a personal failure. Working with a therapist will provide divorcees with the strength and necessary skills to weather the storm of the divorce by equipping them with an outlet to a rational and objective perspective. The purpose of divorce therapy is to aid people in their journey of self-rediscovery. It will help them to see the opportunities for personal growth and development that this new life transition presents them with.

Individual Divorce Therapy

Divorce therapy is most commonly sought out on an individual basis. Therapy is tremendously beneficial at all stages in the divorce process. Seeking help before or during the divorce process is often the most effective way in aiding individuals with the pending life transition. It will help them develop constructive methods to cope with stress and negative self-image issues that frequently arise during the divorce. By proactively seeking out help, individuals are laying the foundation to build their new life.

If receiving therapy before or during the process of a divorce is not an option, it is strongly suggested that one seeks professional help after the divorce has been finalized.  While many people choose to “go it alone”, the professional help of a therapist will help them to see the changes within themselves that they may have not noticed. A challenging life transition like a divorce almost always has unintended psychological consequences that often go unnoticed when introspectively examining oneself. In other words, a  person with no previous mental health issues goes through a divorce, they may develop symptoms of depression or anxiety. If this is something they’ve never experienced, it would be difficult to recognize and can impact their daily life.

Above all, individual therapy gives individuals an outlet to air out their stories. This serves as a mental and emotional release that brings new constructive perspectives to light that would’ve otherwise gone undiscovered. Talking about the divorce with a therapist in a  confidential setting allows people to achieve peace of mind because they can speak freely about whatever issue is truly bothering them without the fear of judgment. Once the problems most pertinent to individuals receiving therapy have been identified, the therapist can help them develop goal-oriented methods to overcome them.

It is important to keep in mind that seeking professional help is by no means a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The stigmatization of seeking psychological assistance has prevented people from getting the help they need when they need it the most. The goal of therapy is to help people grow and become the best person they can be.

 

Additional Resources

1.) “National Marriage & Divorce Rates 2000-16.” https://www.cdc.gov , Center for Disease
Control, 20 Jan. 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/national_marriage_divorce_rates_00-16.pdf.

2.) Neuman, Fredric. “Changing Gender Roles in Marriage.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 4 Jan. 2013,
www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fighting-fear/201301/changing-gender-roles-in-marriage.

3.) Kitson, Gay C., and William M. Holmes. Portrait of Divorce: Adjustment to Marital
Breakdown. 3 ed., vol. 99, Guilford Press, 1992.

4.) Amato, Paul R., and Denise Previti. “People’s Reasons for Divorcing: Gender, Social Class, the Life Course, and Adjustment.” Journal of Family Issues, vol. 24, no. 5, 2003, pp. 602–626., doi:10.1177/0192513×03024005002.

5.) “Divorce / Divorce Adjustment.” https://www.goodtherapy.org , Good Therapy, 7 June 2017, www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/divorce.