The Divorce Sessions, a Q&A with Laurel Perlman *LTD Contributor

by Laurel Perlman, Ed.S, L.M.F.T

The Divorce Sessions

Laurel Perlman graduated from Seton Hall University with her Ed.S in Marriage and Family Therapy in 1992, as her proud children looked on. She went back to school after her divorce, turning adversity into advantage. Laurel has been in private practice for 20 years and has offices in Livingston (phone: 973-535-1525) and Far Hills, New Jersey.

 Q: Is the grieving at the end of a marriage similar to the loss of a loved one?

1. The demise of a marriage can feel like a death. It is the loss of “happily ever after” dreams. It is the loss of a partner, the loss of the nuclear family, it may be the separation from extended family, and the potential loss of a home. For these reasons, people experiencing divorce need time to grieve just like when someone passes away.

 Q: How do women and men handle seeking out therapy in Divorce?

2. The interesting observation I have made over the years is that women are four times as likely to seek help immediately. Women are more comfortable sharing their feelings and working on emotional issues. It takes men a bit longer , but once they come into therapy, they work just as hard as women do.

Q: Is it easier being the Custodial Parent when going through Divorce or is it more difficult dealing with the emotional problems the children may have?

3. Being the custodial parent does make the emotional journey easier in some ways. Of course most of the day to day care falls on that parent’s shoulders, but they get to have their children most night for dinner and get to tuck them in at night. The non custodial parent suffers the loss of the day to day life of their children. It is my professional opinion that children benefit from therapy during the divorce process. Their whole lives have changed. They see both parents struggling and it unbalances their world. Sitting with a counselor provides a safe, confidential place to express their feelings. This provides a forum to say what they need to say.

 Q: Is Family therapy beneficial for the entire Family in transition?

4.Family therapy can be extremely useful to the whole family while going through the transition time. The family can work with the therapist to empathize with what each family member is going through, and work together to make the process as smooth as possible.

 Q: How long on average does it take to heal from Divorce?

5. All the literature and research states that it takes three to five years to recover from the effects of a divorce. This can depend on what path a person chooses to take. I find that with my clients, that once they start to work on their own core issues and commit to the future they realize that there is life after divorce, and working toward that goal is well worth it.

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