The "divorce coach" is unique to collaborative law. A divorce coach is a mental health professional – often a psychologist or an LCSW – who assists the client in being able to effectively move through the divorce. Collaborative Law recognizes that there is an emotional component of divorce that must be addressed in addition to the legal component. In fact, the emotional divorce is often more complex than the legal divorce. In traditional litigation emotions are ignored; in Collaborative Law they are fully considered.
The divorce coach does not perform therapy. Rather, the relationship is a short term intervention aimed at helping a client confront the emotional hurdles involved in divorce. Divorce coaching can involve working on a number of skills needed to navigate the process. A few of these skills include effective listening; effective communicating; learning how to speak up for oneself; identifying interests; and recognizing how your behavior impacts others. Divorce coaches can help clients address difficult topics too, such as substance abuse issues, infidelity, leaving or having been left and issues related to money.
Because Collaborative Law is client-centered, divorce coaching is client-centered as well. Clients can choose to have a divorce coach or not. One coach can work with both clients or each client can have a coach. Perhaps only one client has a divorce coach and the other does not. It is important to realize that the entire family benefits, even if only client is receiving coaching. It is beneficial for the whole family because the issues of one client often effect the entire family and the entire negotiation.
Next: Read about the role of the Child Specialist.