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What Happens in Divorce and Separation Counselling?

View profile for Liz Headley
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Counselling is always a very personal experience as counsellors and psychotherapists invite their clients to bring their own unique narratives about the events they want to speak about to the therapy room.

Counselling can offer a confidential space for people to talk freely about any challenges they are facing and any emotions they might be feeling relating to their circumstances. If any safeguarding issues emerge during the therapeutic conversations, they will, of course be taken seriously, and if necessary, be disclosed to an appropriate agency.

Divorce, separation and relationship breakdown can all invite powerful emotional responses for a range of reasons. They are all life changing events, potentially inviting feelings of loss and grief and maybe failure. In counselling the therapist can offer the opportunity for the client to explore their experiences and the effects of those experiences and try to reframe some of their negative thinking.   

Brethertons have recognised that managing divorce and separation can be very tricky on an emotional level for most people, so have developed a service in addition to the legal expertise they deliver so effectively. They can offer their clients who are going through the legal process of leaving their partner, the chance to engage in therapy with me, Liz Headley.

I started my counselling training in 1999 and gained a diploma in person-centred therapy. I then went on to work for Warwickshire Relate, where I completed all their training which allows me to work with adults, young people and children, individually or as couples or in the family context. I would now consider myself to be a post graduate degree level integrative therapist with a wealth of experience in relationship issues, relationship breakdown and the effects of these on adults and children also having expertise in how to navigate a different route to parenting as separated parents.

How can counselling help, you may wonder. True to say, it’s not for everyone and it can take some courage to open up to a stranger about some deeply personal stuff. However, the benefits can be that you can become more self-aware leading to healthier choices in relationships going forward. You can gain a better understanding of how relationships work and why we tend to be attracted to a certain type and in some cases, why we might be chosen as a potential partner.

The separation and divorce process can sometimes be a lengthy one and it might be the case that friends and family think, ‘he/she/they should be getting over it by now’. In the same way that bereavement can affect some people for a longer period than others, recovering from relationship breakdown isn’t a simple journey and can take time. Having the opportunity to speak about your experiences in a non-judgemental, empathic space, where you can go at completely your own pace, with no pressure to ‘move on’ or come up with any solutions, can feel a real release and a huge opportunity to unburden yourself from some of the detritus you might be carrying around.

In the therapy that I offer at Brethertons, I always try to be client led and the person that I am working with will be allowed to take the lead in deciding what is most important for them to bring to the sessions. Any emotional response related to what has happened to them will be accepted and empathy shown. I will remain curious and interested in their experiences and together we can try to make sense of them so that issues can be laid to rest.

Sadly, I speak with many men and women who have experienced some form of abuse within their relationship. If this is the case, the therapy can be significant in helping them to recover and to realise that they in no way, deserved to be treated in such a way.

Abusers regularly use a gaslighting technique to persuade their partner that in some way, it is down to them and their behaviours that the problems arise. So, the abuser will say that the reason they use the techniques that they do, physical, emotional, verbal, sexual or financial abuse, is the fault of their ‘victim’. Abusers rarely take any responsibility for their actions.

For those who have lived with an abusive partner for years, it can take a long time to find themselves again and to develop better self-esteem and improved self-confidence.

Divorce and separation are life changing events which will bring many challenges, however, making the choice to leave an unhealthy or unhappy relationship can offer the opportunity for positive change and engaging in some therapeutic input can make the road to recovery a little smoother.  

If you are using Brethertons legal services to progress your separation and divorce, please do enquire about the free emotional support and advice you can request and if you have any questions or concerns about the therapeutic intervention, please do make contact with me: