Surviving & Transcending Divorce


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Presentation for therapists and legal professionals to learn skills to help clients cope with and move beyond divorce, achieving their best self and best life.

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  • Thank you---grateful you are here, honored to be with you today.
    I believe in synchronicity: Jennifer. Hope you are inspired by the three of us in the same way to help your clients effectively transition through divorce
    All of you have probably counseled clients through divorce. Some of you may have been through it yourself. Regardless, I encourage you to think about the concepts of my training as they apply to your clients and to you. I feel as therapists we can only help our clients achieve the level of consciousness which we have achieved. We are all works in progress.
    My portion of today’s training will contain concepts that are familiar to you. My intention is to share with you my personal thoughts and experiences in counseling clients through divorce, in hopes that you are inspired to view this work through a refreshed lens and with some new tools in your therapeutic toolbox.
    I welcome you to ask questions and participate in discussion throughout the presentation.
  • Divorce is not simply a milestone along the road of life. For most who go through it, it is a trauma.
    Within the divorce, there many be additional traumas beyond the attachment trauma, including infidelity, betrayal, financial devastation, etc. Whitney’s bro in law. These traumas tap into earlier life traumas via the psychic web of trauma (my client with the sexual abuse who began drinking)
    We meet clients at different stages of the process, which affects the work we do with them. Before (megan’s first session), during, years after (Paula--not moving forward, tethered to her rage at Peter and his narcissism). Her couples therapy experience. (Ross’ book--handy smurf (codependent)--that’s what she got). But still angry and can’t move forward---married somebody 20 years younger and has two toddlers.
    In Michele’s book, she says those going through divorce need a sherpa to guide them from beginning to end of that journey. As therapists, this is our job. We meet them where they are at and respectfully, empathically, and lovingly guide them through the trauma towards self-discovery and self-love.
  • Like the DSM...
    There are a million variables that may affect how your client views his or her divorce.
    Age, length of marriage, culture, religion, which number of marriage this is, kids/no kids, who is leaving whom, etc. It is your job to deeply and profoundly know and understand your client’s unique experience.
    Some people are profoundly and deeply devastated by divorce and some are liberated, empowered and emancipated. I never know whether to say congrats or I’m sorry when somebody says they got divorced, so I just say, “how are you?”
    My Muslim client. Raised in domestic violence, married to an emotionally abusive man she used to self-harm when they fought. She took off her hijab (head scarft and divorced him). This required her to assertively communicate to her family and to essentially buy him out. This was not an easy task in her religion, culture or family. I am happy to say, she is happily remarried and empowered, achieving amazing success in her career. Hardly recognizable from the woman I met 10 years ago.
  • Ask your client, what does divorce mean to you? And, what is the negative belief about yourself? (How many are trained in EMDR? The idea that via the psychic web of trauma, the current trauma triggers past beliefs, “I am unlovable, I am not worthy, somehow I am not good enough.”
    Negative beliefs: Failed marriage, Bad/wrong choice, broken marriage/family
    Saying Marcy was my hero and she said except for one thing. SHAME. (Refer to Brene Brown’s work)
    We must help our clients unplug from these harmful beliefs and write a different narrative. Michele talks about the story of the marriage and the divorce and writing your manifesto. This is aligned with narrative therapy and the idea that we are all the author and the protagonist of our own life story.
    My belief is that relationships are 50/50 and that we are always attracted to people of a similar level of mental health. If we work on ourselves, we become healthier. Because relationships are systems and we are each part of the “machine”, the system is impacted. Either our partner grows along with us, or they do not. Oar boat metaphor---if you are the only one rowing the boat, you go in circles.
    As therapists, we must help our clients replace this harmful beliefs with statements that demonstrate self-compassion.
    Although religious and cultural messages tell us marriage is good and divorce is bad, truly, it is neither bad, nor good, it just is. All things happen for a reason. Everything is as it should be. And we need to remove ourselves from judgement.
  • sexist---Susan Bank
    white board
    weight loss
    substance abuse (don’t know a woman who didn’t loose 20 pounds and start smoking during the divorce process)
    identity disturbance
    feeling crazy
    feeling ungrounded
    attachment issues (also with kids)
    sexual acting out
    Identify these symptoms
  • 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance)---cycle through them repeatedly, can relapse when triggered, etc. Grief is a process.
    Divorce higher on life stressors list than death of a spouse. Why?
    What are some of the losses people experience? (white board)
    Loss of the life you thought you would have, $$$, home, time with kids, time, inlaws, friends, possessions, social status, invitations to coupley things, loss of sharing with kids, the holidays, parental alienation, etc.
  • My belief: We were all dealt a different hand of hardships and blessing. It would appear life is unfair in her dealings, but we are given the exact hand we need for our unique psycho-spiritual development
    we learn our roles in family-of-origin and often unconsciously recreate what is familiar until we choose something different.
    Our job: Help your clients identify themes and patterns and to give themselves permission to let go of old patterns that are no longer working and open yourself up to new ways that will allow success into your life. (We see these patterns in our clients—giving more than they receive, for example. Consider what patterns you may be unconsciously recreated to limit success in your life.
    divorce attorney who dated her clients (heck with it and bought a house in the burbs and adopted a couple of kids on her own)---her father abandoned her family (kids are surgeons, etc.)
    megan, her first session, her work with her husband, and dating australian
    Dave and smart dating academy . Dave and smart dating academy.
  • Paula, driver’s ed, orphanage.
    Can be a big pill to swallow, but is critical in helping your clients move beyond blame to self-actualization.
  • Coach your clients. Don’t worry about the future (uncertainty) or obsess about the past (if I had only done this, maybe things would be different)
    Deep breathing (mind/body/spirit) and meditation are a great ways to clear your mind and focus on the here-and-now.
    Mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Eckhart Tolle The Power of Now
    Mark’s record analogy
    Check in with your body. True presence. I do my best clinical work when in a state of mindfulness.
    Strive for authenticity---key to happiness and a meaningful life. When your life is congruent with who you truly are. Work, relationships and activities that feed your soul.
    Practice mindfulness techniques
  • Detach from your inner critic Silence your inner critic,. Self-talk—voices the past
    Don’t “snowball” or overwhelm yourself with negative thoughts. –choose to unplug
    Plexiglass that protects you from others who are in a negative or toxic space—Al-Anon-detachment with love.
    Focus on your ESSENCE be truly present (ego versus essence in a New Earth---Oprah series)
    What is the negative belief about yourself? “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t do that.” Separate from that by “zooming out” and look at situations objectively from a neutral place.
    EMDR, CBT, Inner Critic workbooks.
    It is normal to have issues, the issues are part of the lesson of life--they bring about tremendous blessings in terms of opportunities for growth. In fact, I believe the people who have overcome mental illness and other extremely challenging life experiences often have more consciousness and psychological awareness than those who have not. Our psychological issues are how we are, not who we are. We are all exactly as we should be.
    Detachment from ego, detachment from others (al-anon—detachment with love). Not personalizing the actions of others. Do not give others the power to determine how you feel about yourself.
    Confidence is actually detachment from ego—you don’t fear rejection or failing—you are just yourself and it is as it is
  • Detach from negative thoughts. Somebody else if benefiting from all of your training and heartache (yoga teacher...)
    Don’t go in your head alone, bad neighborhood (anita, ruminating, second guessing)
    Choose to be your best coach or cheerleader, rather than your worst critic
    Have a positive mantra, Mine: Im doing the best I can do and I’m only human, “Little Engine That Could---mine, “I know I can, dammit.”
  • The divorce process and the legal system can make people defensive. It is important to let go of fear and defensiveness that we think protect us
    Allow yourself to be vulnerable, real and authentic. Vulnerability is Sexy. (Jennifer did this after reading Good Karma book and was grounded and detached and had on her “psychologist hat”.)
    If we are ever going to achieve real success, we have to be willing to live our lives as our actual selves.
    By J. Johnson
    It’s a waste of energy to get hooked.
    Save everyone some time and own up to your own stuff. Be honest with yourself and others. Let go of denial, rationalization, intellectualization and other BS.
    Opportunity for rebirth and that can trigger defensive fear and anxiety
    Why would we fear our power? Responsibility,. pressure, changes in our relationships, etc. Honestly, I am experiencing this as I am achieving things previously would have never dreamed possible. We have a responsibility to ourselves to let go of our fear and other defense mechanisms and move forward in life authentically and courageously.
  • feelings are waves of energy we store in the body
    they are normal responses to everything we have been through. Might seem disproportionate, but is normal.
    tidal waves of unresolved feelings/trauma
    surf shame, anger and negativity rather than becoming engulfed by them
    watch them, observe them, feel them, don’t fear them. Mindfulness helps. EMDR movie screen or train. Separation to access the objective observer.
  • Love Yourself to be your best self
    As professionals, we can all work 24/7. We have to create our own structure and limits and we must practice self-care to reboot our brains.
    Exercise as a way to release emotions stored in the body (massage, acupuncture, etc.) ---we store trauma in the body
    Self care (super woman syndrome conference where they said exercise is most important), sleep, nutrition, fun, hobbies, leisure activities, pampering, etc. Doesn’t have to be expensive or take a lot of time. When I check in and ask myself what I need, it is often water!
    Oxygen mask analogy—this is critical in our work or it is a recipe for codependency or being a Marter.
    Own good parents—picture of myself as a baby
  • Ross Rosenberg
    Diva and doormat—set boundaries that reflect respect for self and others
    Time, physical, financial, sexual, emotional, etc. Drs, Cloud & Townsend.
    Use assertive communication and reflect confidence.
    Not triangulating---with kids, parental alienation.
    Boundaries such as not walking into the house, etc. Say no. Don’t feel guilty unless you’ve done something wrong.
    Say No in a way that is kind, diplomatic and clear. we must take care of ourselves first.
  • “I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization” -Roger Ebert
    To diffuse conflict. Otherwise, people up the ante when they do not feel heard. You do not have to agree. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.
    Arguing about somebody’s feelings is a waste of time.
  • be the bigger person and karma will settle the score
    paula and peter and his hatchback (orangoutang hair)
    mutually respectful, collaborative divorce (Mark going on a cruse with his ex-wife, her new husband and their kids. She went to his family’s for Thanksgiving.)
  • New slide--not in harndout. Will email updated handout to participants.
    Choose to be the bigger person
    Love yourself.
    Laws of attraction
    Show your light
  • Help clients nurture their support network.
    The importance of divorced friends (Kate, living as a married woman.) I mean this in the sense of positive or negative energy—not in the social climbing sense. you
    Understand people come into your life for a reason and look out for those special people (mentors, etc.)
    Suggest that your clients:
    Establish a personal and professional advisory board.
    Communicate their needs. Ask for what you want from family, from friends, from teachers or mentors, your own therapist, your own consultant, your peers, your spiritual practices. MENU
    Allow themselves to connect with others emotionally, physically, professionally, etc. Invite intimacy and CONNECTION in their lives. For some, this occurs first in the therapeutic relationship (Beth.)
    Assess your network and let go of negative or toxic relationships and establish and nurture positive ones. Advil friend. Even my haristylist.
    Choose relationships that promote your growth of consciousness. Choose people who lift you up.
  • “Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.”
    ~Eckhart Tolle
    Hardships and blessings. Challenges are opportunities for growth.
    My business divorce (10 year, daily relationship that involved commitments and money). My parent’s deaths.
    Even painful or negative relationships are opportunities for growth and healing
    Greg and his new life
  • Recognize that personal and professional progress is not linear. We all go through setbacks, or “loops” in life as a normal part of being human. It is how we respond to those setbacks that determines if we are going to grow and move forward or continue to cycle. Reflect on your setbacks and quickly get back on the horse to move forward.
    There are ebbs and flows in the process of life. Reframe ebbs as the universe giving you a break or inviting you to learn something.
    Quantum physics. ---dammit, i’m sticking by it
  • Empower yourself to change what you can and let go of the rest.
    Serenity prayer.
    “It is what it is.”
    Practice acceptance.
    Language of Letting Go, Melody Beattie (endorsed Ross’s book)
  • Free yourself.
    Let go of resentment.
    “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”
    I think we could all work a 12-step program
    Create space for JOY.
    When in doubt, choose LOVE.
  • Not stubborness, but strength.
    Greg. Get up and face it or lay down. Eleanor Roosevelt teabag quote.
    Dating. Divorce battle (my client who is disabled with a narcissistic ex-husband).
    Stay the course.
  • Help your clients... I truly believe that just as in sports psychology, visualization increases the likelihood that events will go the way we want--because we are opening our thinking to those possibilities and our intentions precede our actions. We largely create our own realities.
    Everything you see happening is the consequence of that which you are."-David Hawkins
    Goals focus on a fixed outcome in the future, while intentions focus on the present and provide the guiding light to living mindfully moment-to-moment. 10 lbs versus living healthfully.
    What are your intentions personally and professionally
  • Prosperity is more than just money. It may be love, health, wisdom, beauty, friendship, family, knowledge, etc.
    Abundance versus scarcity theory. Divorce triggers the thoughts that are aligned with the scarcity theory.
    As therapists, we are often caretakers and GIVERS. Open yourself up to RECEIVING. Open your mind to learning, your spirit and your wallet to receiving
    We all know that in cognitive psychology, the belief is that our thoughts precede our feelings and our behaviors. To be successful, we must think of ourselves as a success.
    Louise Hay, receiving prosperity. Abundance theory—we limit ourselves
  • We are all gifted, we are all disabled.
    Ask others what they see as your core competencies and go with that
    Accept compliments Journal your accomplishments and things you do well.
    What are your unique abilities—your gifts—your mission
    divorce is a time for metamorphosis
    Being open to the process
  • Manifesto
    "The most you get is what you ask for."
    ~Dr. Phil McGraw
    (negotiating seminar at kellogg)
    If you had a magic wand, what would you want?
    Aim high
    Rowing with oars
    Vision board—act “as if”, future pull. Sara’s workshop. 1st Sat of Jan.
  • laws of attraction
    Look at the good parts. (Maureen and her thanksgiving---the runner, the smell of the turkey, her boys saying it looked beautiful and smelled great.)
    Gratitude for everything that brought you to this place
    Gratitude journal.
    Huffington post article.
    Megan calling me on day of divorce
    Epectetus & dr. phil!!
  • Death of former self, former life. Like a snake shedding it’s skin, like a butterfly leaving it’s chrysalis (cocoon in my day),
    Time for renewal, metamorphosis
    Kate---stuck for 1.5 years in therapy, good girl had to die, my fantasy for her, find her oars, her own needs, feelings (Ross’s book)
    I like this image of the phoenix rising---who knows, maybe it will be my first tattoo which I have been wanting.
  • People come into your life for a reason
    There are no accidence
    Powerful coincedences
  • what is love and what is not---handout
    self love
  • Dinner party. Gerbil wheel. How will we know when we have succeeded?
    Consider asking your clients, what is your greatest intention for your life? In other words, what is your personal definition of success?
     This is mine. And this is my wish for you for your clients. Have them apply this to their manifesto.
    Which did the presenter say is a greater determinant of success?
    B. Education
    E. Resources 
    We all come into our careers for a reason. As we all know, we learn our roles in family-of-origin and often recreate patterns until we work through them. I am a firm believer that we all have come into this field for a reason. Perhaps we were mediators in our families of origin, survived trauma, came from alcoholic families, are in recovery, or have been touched by loved ones who have dealt with mental health issues or addiction. I love the work of Alice Miller (The Drama of the Gifted Child) and believe in the concept of codependency, not just in relation to addiction, but in relation to narcissism or a variety of other life issues. We are all shaped and molded by our past. Many of us have participated in our own personal therapy (something I feel passionately about for all clinicians.) No matter where you are on your journey, take the opportunity today to check in and give yourself a psychological evaluation. Become conscious and clear on why you do what you do.
    Give yourself permission to let go of old patterns that are no longer working and open yourself up to new ways that will allow success into your life. (We see these patterns in our clients—giving more than they receive, for example. Consider what patterns you may be unconsciously recreated to limit success in your life.
    We are blessed to work in a field with many options. As we grow and learn, we can seek work at new settings, with new populations, or we can be clinicians, teachers, coaches, mentors, supervisors, writers, etc.
  • Surviving & Transcending Divorce

    1. 1. Text The Psychology of Success: Surviving & Transcending Divorce
    2. 2. The Trauma of Divorce "The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” ~Steve Maraboli
    3. 3. Honor the Unique Experience “The precision of naming takes away from the uniqueness of seeing.” ~Pierre Bonnard
    4. 4. What Does “Divorce” Mean to You? “There is nothing either good nor bad, but thinking makes it so. ” ~William Shakespeare
    5. 5. The Symptoms of Divorce “Ah, yes, divorce... from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man’s genitals through his wallet.” ~Robin Williams
    6. 6. Grief & Loss “The knowledge of the past stays with us. To let go is to release the images and emotions, the grudges and fears, the clingings and disappointments of the past that bind our spirit. ” ~Jack Kornfield
    7. 7. Identify Themes & Patterns “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~Albert Einstein
    8. 8. Take Responsibility "Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It's not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every decision and choice you make.” ~Wayne Dyer
    9. 9. Bring Your Attention to the Present “Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.” ~Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
    10. 10. Detach from Ego & Negativity ”The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but the thought about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.” ~Eckhart Tolle
    11. 11. Think Positively “a man is but the product of his thoughts... what he thinks, he becomes.” ~Mohandas Gandhi
    12. 12. Let Go of Defensiveness “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.” ~Marianne Williamson
    13. 13. Surf the Waves of Emotion “Feelings are waves of energy which we can choose to surf, rather than allow them to overcome us.” ~Arlene Englander, The In-Sourcing Handbook
    14. 14. Practice Self-Care “Health is certainly more valuable than money, because it is by health that money is procured.” ~Samuel Johnson
    15. 15. Set Healthy Boundaries “We teach people how to treat us.” ~Dr. Phil
    16. 16. Appreciate the Relational Power of Empathy “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” ~Henry David Thoreau
    17. 17. “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” ~Wayne Dyer Embody Your Core Values
    18. 18. Radiate Warmth & Light “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou
    19. 19. Access Support “Friends are like elevator buttons, they either take you up or they take you down.” ~Tom Osbourne
    20. 20. View Setbacks As Opportunities For Growth “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” ~Helen Keller
    21. 21. Appreciate That Progress is Not Linear “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” ~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
    22. 22. Practice Acceptance “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~Maya Angelou
    23. 23. Forgive Yourself & Others “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” ~Nelson Mandela
    24. 24. Be Resilient “Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” ~Marilyn Vos Savant
    25. 25. Discover the Power of Intention “Our intention creates our reality.” ~Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention
    26. 26. Open Yourself Up to Prosperity “Your prosperity consciousness is not dependent on money; your flow of money is dependent on your prosperity of consciousness.” ~Louise Hay
    27. 27. “ Identify Your Gifts “To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation.” ~Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
    28. 28. Develop Your Vision Asian eye “First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” ~Epictetus
    29. 29. Practice Gratitude “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” ~Epictetus
    30. 30. Death & Rebirth “In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” ~Deepak Chopra
    31. 31. Appreciate Synchronicity “We do not create our destiny; we participate in its unfolding. Synchronicity works as a catalyst toward the working out of that destiny.” ~David Richo
    32. 32. What Is Love? “You can search throughout the entire universe for somebody who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
    33. 33. Define Success “Success is to live life openly, authentically, and lovingly in a way that aligned with the highest good of self and others-- and to the greatest extent possible.”
    34. 34. Joyce Marter, LCPC @Urban_Balance @Joyce_Marter Please connect with me on LinkedIn & follow my blogs on The Huffington Post & PsychCentral