Is Your Child Struggling with Your Recent Separation or Divorce?
Have you noticed unusual changes in your child’s behavior? Do they seem withdrawn, angry, or tearful? Perhaps they are being overly clingy or displaying negative behaviors to grab your attention. Are they struggling or acting out in school? Does your child seem anxious or depressed all the time?
A separation or divorce can be very difficult for most children and adolescents. It can be an uncertain time in their lives that causes them to feel scared, confused, and insecure. Divisions in the family can often cause children to lose their sense of stability and security. Everything they’ve always known has changed and they often find themselves having to juggle life between two households.
The emotional strain that children go through can cause them to feel ill, withdrawn, or different than their friends whose parents aren’t separated or divorced. Some children may even be waiting for their parents to get back together so that their life after divorce can go back to what it used to be.
You’re probably concerned about how your child is coping with all these changes. You may be feeling guilty, overwhelmed, and worried about your family’s future physically, emotionally, and financially.
I understand what you and your child are going through. And I know how important it is to maintain a healthy relationship with your children during this challenging time in your lives. Fortunately, I can help you and your child reestablish a sense of security and routine.
Young People Often Have A Difficult Time During Family Transitions
It’s very common for children to struggle during a separation. They don’t understand what’s happening around them. All they know is that everything has changed and there’s nothing they can do about it.
Your child may be performing poorly in school or acting out, especially if they had to switch schools, move away from old friends, or leave the home they loved. In the new family structure, routines often vary at each household and it’s hard for a child to keep up with different rules and expectations. Children need structure and routine so they can feel safe. When they don’t find that at home, or when they don’t feel like their needs are being heard, they may become isolated, depressed and/or angry to get attention.
Even though your child may be mourning the family loss, with the right support they can learn to adjust to their new living situation and family structure. In my professional experience, I’ve found that honesty and open communication are essential to rebuilding trust. You can take a powerful first step by giving yourself and your child a safe space and the support of an experienced family therapist for divorce.
Family Therapy After A Divorce Can Help Your Child Regain A Sense of Normalcy
Therapy offers you the chance to talk about how your child is feeling and behaving with an expert who can help you find answers and provide impartial support. In our sessions, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your family situation and concerns about your child without fearing judgment. At the same time, your child will have a safe space where they can more openly share their feelings, frustrations, and fears about the separation. They will also learn skills to better regulate their emotions.
In the first few sessions, I’ll meet with you and your parenting partner together or separately (depending on your preference) to gather information about your child and what they’re struggling with. We’ll discuss their behavior at home and in school in order to develop specific techniques that will help them learn how to express and manage their emotions effectively. I’ll also teach you new skills that will help you be in tune with your child so you can quickly notice signs that they need support.
Following the parent’s sessions, I may meet with your child individually if they feel comfortable with that. If they are initially feeling unsure about meeting alone, I will invite you to attend with them until they become more at ease. The first few sessions will be about getting to know your child and building a rapport. Each following session will be tailored to your child’s needs, and we’ll start by focusing on the specific issues that they are struggling with most, such as feelings about the divorce, behavior or communication problems.
My approach to working with your child will be centered around helping them to learn emotional regulation skills and how to verbalize their feelings productively. I will be your child’s advocate to help them share the things they want to express to you, whether that is through play therapy, art therapy or traditional talk therapy. By tailoring my approach to your child’s needs and style of communication, I can help build healthy communication between you and your child while providing you with skills that you can take out of the therapy room.
Play therapy allows your child to be more open and honest about their feelings because they are using the natural language of play. When children are playing, certain themes emerge that we can address more effectively than through talk therapy alone. Art therapy for children encourages self-expression in a similar way to play therapy. When your child is painting or coloring, I will give prompts that encourage them to use different colors to express their feelings. For example, a child may use blue if they cry or red if their parents are mad at each other in the picture.
Solution-focused therapy will help us identify positive ways your child can express their feelings so that you can use these skills at home to improve communication. By incorporating a strengths-based perspective into each session, we can identify, celebrate, and build upon you and your child’s strengths.
I have over 20 years’ experience working with families going through separation or divorce. And as a mom and stepmom, I know what it’s like to come together as a family in times of change. Children are more resilient than adults give them credit for. As long as they know you care for them, and that you and your parenting partner are working together for their benefit, they can learn to flourish and be happy in their new living arrangements.
You May Have Some Concerns About Child and Family Therapy For Divorce…
I’m too busy dealing with the separation to attend counseling.
I understand that you have a lot on your plate, especially now. But your child needs you. Seeing their parents separate is a big life change for children, and without the right support it can affect their overall wellbeing and future relationships. However, children are incredibly resilient, and an experienced family therapist can help your child learn to self-regulate and transform negative thoughts into positive ones that will help them get through this difficult life transition. Therapy can help them make sense out of the family’s new circumstances.
I’m afraid I can’t afford the sessions.
Child counseling after a divorce is an investment for your family. Children who go through a separation or divorce face many difficult challenges and adjustments. Although each individual child responds to divorce differently, the majority can pull though successfully and grow up to be emotionally healthy adults. With the aid of counseling after divorce, your child can learn practical coping skills that will last a lifetime.
I don’t spend enough time with my children as it is. I’m afraid therapy will take even more time from my family.
Going through a separation can be incredibly taxing, and I understand you’re juggling many things right now that are taking time away from your children. But you can make therapy a time of bonding with your child by going out to dinner or doing something special after sessions. The ride in the car alone could open doors to one-on-one communication and healthy, honest conversations you might not be able to have while trying to keep up with everything at home and at work.
Your Child Can Recover and Learn To Thrive
If you’re ready to work with an experienced child and family therapist to help your child navigate the challenges after a separation or divorce, I invite you to call me at 503-927-9194. We can schedule a 15 to 20-minute phone consultation so that you may ask questions, and together we can decide if we’re a good fit.