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So tell me exactly what it is that you do as a Divorce Coach. What does that mean?
Well, I work with parents at any stage of the divorce process. So you can be going through a separation or divorce right now, you can already be divorced, or you may have just made the decision to split up, but haven't begun any formal or legal action yet. My primary goal is to help you be able to work together as much as possible - I call this COLLABORATION - to provide the best environment for your children.
Talk about that a little bit - about the children. You're really passionate about the kids, aren't you?
Yes, I am, because unfortunately they usually get caught in the middle and they're the innocent ones in all of this. The parents are often so caught up in their own emotions and all the challenges they're going through, that they don't realize the impact they're having on their children. Most parents truly want what's best for their kids, but they may not know how to provide it, particularly when their lives are being turned upside down.
So that's where you come in?
Yes, I become the voice of reason and simplicity when things seem very complicated, scary or impossible. I help moms and dads to see what's happening from a different perspective, where the truth is more clear. This enables them to become more aware of their own actions and reactions, and what outcomes they want for themselves and for their kids.
How is coaching different from therapy or counseling?
This is the question I get asked the most. Coaching is actually quite different because it doesn't focus on the past and all the things that have happened to you in your life. Coaching is all about moving forward. It's about where you are RIGHT NOW (your current circumstances) and where you want to be. So if you're separating and having a hard time dealing with each other, then we work on strategies for you to be able to work together more amicably so that your kids aren't so torn between the two of you. It doesn't really matter what brought you to this point - what matters is what you do NOW and GOING FORWARD. That's my focus - the here and now & getting you to where youy want to be. If you want to go back and forth blaming each other and telling me all the terrible things about your ex, then I'm not the right person for you. I don't want you to be stuck in the past and reliving all the negative things that have happened - I want you to focus on what does work and how you can start a new, more positive life.
Also, let me be clear that I am not a therapist and I have not been trained to deal with any types of mental illness or substance abuse, nor do I make any diagnoses of anyone. If I feel that you need services that I'm not qualified to give, then I will refer you to a professional more suited to your needs.
So my ex and I aren't going to tell you stories about what the other one did and have to rehash old arguments?
No, definitely not. I want you to move forward and I don't allow any finger pointing or blaming. It's just counter-productive. I want both of you to take the focus off of each other and what's been WRONG, and put it on your kids and what can be RIGHT as you move forward into this next phase of your lives.
It sounds like the focus is very optimistic and more cooperative. But what if I don't feel very optimistic right now?
Great question. The thing is that it takes work. It really does. Divorce is a very stressful time and it alters people's lives dramatically. The key is to have a higher vision of what life can be like and keep going back to that vision, that desire - every time you start feeling yourself getting sucked back into all the drama and emotion and pain. It's tough. And typically, if you've been married, you really know how to push each other's buttons - so when one of you is angry or hurt...look out! You need reminders to think about your kids and to look more long-term. This is someone you're going to be interacting with for many years to come. Do you want to live this way, with resentment and bitterness? or do you want to have peace and harmony in your life? Let me tell you, peace and harmony is the way to go!!
I'll second that! So how does this work then? Do couples come and sit in your office together? Or do they come separately?
Actually I do my work over the phone. Most coaches do. It's convenient - you can do it from almost anywhere - and it saves time. It's also helpful when you have kids because you don't have to figure out who's going to watch them while you go to an appointment. And you can work with me no matter where you live - we just determine the time difference (if there is one) and schedule accordingly. I think it's also nice for couples who are splitting or already divorced, that they are able to participate together, yet they don't have to be sitting in the same room. I find that people are a little more comfortable saying things over the phone than they might be in person. And we can't see each other's facial expressions or body language.
What if I want to work with you, but my ex doesn't?
That happens sometimes, usually because the other person thinks it's going to be like a therapy or counseling session they've seen in movies or on TV. They might be worried that they'll get ganged up on by you and me, or that you'll say bad things about them. Or they might think they're going to have to talk about their emotions the whole time. I'd encourage you to print off this webpage and give it to your ex. Or send them the website link to this page. You can have someone else give it to them if you think it will be better received that way. Also, let them know that I'd be happy to talk with them (for no cost) and answer any questions they have. If they still aren't interested, that's fine.
I can work with one parent and it will still make a big difference. It might make such a difference that the other person will eventually come around. Either way, your kids will benefit and you will gain skills and tools that you can use for the rest of your life. You will know what you want, and you will have steps to take to get there.
What qualifications do you have to be a coach?
I am a Coach Training Alliance Certified Coach (CTA CC) and I have lots of life experience in Divorce, both from the child's perspective and from the parents' perspective. You can read My Divorce Story on my Meet Marlene page to learn more about my experiences.
How did you end up doing divorce coaching?
I have a strong desire to make a difference in people's lives and because of my own experiences and what I've heard and seen, this seemed to be a badly needed service. I know how negative the effects of divorce can be, and I want to change that. I want to help all the kids who are really hurting right now because their parents are fighting and saying mean things about each other. All the kids who are terrified that they're going to lose one of their parents. All the kids who think they're to blame for their parents' breakup. All the kids who feel caught in the middle and torn between two people they love more than anything. All the kids who feel they have to choose one parent over another, and hate themselves for choosing. All the kids who are scared to say how they're really feeling because they don't want to upset their parents any more or "cause any trouble". All the kids who are learning that fighting and arguing is the way to communicate. All the kids who miss one of their parents so much, but are afraid to say so.
And I want to help all the parents who feel guilty or ashamed or depressed or so angry they can hardly see straight. I understand how divorce affects people and I know how hard it is to imagine that life could ever be great again when you have to continue to interact and split time with your kids. It's tough and there's not a lot of help out there. I want to help.
What if I have more questions that you didn't answer here?
Please contact me and I will be happy to answer them. Go to my Contact page and you can either call me or shoot me an email and I will respond as fast as I can. I would love to talk with you!