It seems a little counterintuitive for a marriage therapist to be a divorce mediator.  Aren’t therapists there to save a marriage? So how does one trained to help couples change their dysfunction into a satisfying relationship end up supporting couples splitting up? 

For a while I ran a program for high-conflict post-divorce couples. These are the people you hear about that perpetually return to court, after their divorce is finalized, because they cannot agree or follow through on anything.  Dad wants the kids to play soccer; Mom wants them to play tennis. Or Mom expects drop off to be at 8:00, but Dad shows up at 8:10. So, they go to court. The judges don’t have time for this kind of stuff. They want divorced parents to learn how to co-parent effectively.

And not just so that they don’t overwhelm the courts, but also because it is better for the family’s mental health. Research has shown that it is not the divorce itself which negatively affects kids; it is the level of conflict of the divorce that matters. The higher the conflict the more negatively it affects the children. So, for the families I worked with, my job was to decrease the conflict and stop the cycle. The program proved effective. There was a significant decrease in court appearances for the couples who participated in the program. Bitter and angry divorced couples learned how to co-parent, reducing judges’ caseloads, and more importantly, improving family life.

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Then I heard about Divorce Mediation. Wow! Now, instead of trying to clean up the mess after a nasty divorce, I could help couples avoid a hostile divorce altogether. I can stop the cycle before it happens. This is a therapist’s dream come true! Statistics have shown that couples are significantly more likely to follow through with an agreement they created, such as during the process of mediation, than one that is imposed on them during litigation. This is such an empowering concept for me. A couple wants to build a new future, just no longer with each other. I can help them do that, and create a future life plan that they will most likely follow through with, in an amicable manner. Again, Wow!

My therapeutic background enables me to help people resolve their differences to reach agreements, look towards a new everyday life, and acknowledge the emotional pain of a divorce. I have some unique skills to help couples through this difficult time in their life. I would rather help them now, to avoid having to help them further down the road when lots of damage, to themselves and their children, has been done. 

For more information about divorce mediation contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, LMFT, at Westfield Mediation, LLC, at 908.913.0373.  View our website at www.westfieldnjmediation.com or email us at info@westfieldnjmediation.com.