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How does a therapist help if you're thinking about divorce?

A lot of people eventually get a therapist if they're thinking about divorce...but they may not get exactly what they're looking for when they do.

If you're looking for a therapist to tell you if you should give your marriage another shot or get a divorce, you'll likely be disappointed. Most therapists say that's generally inappropriate to do except in situations where physical abuse is occurring.

Instead, therapy offers people struggling with a decaying marital relationship an opportunity to address their innermost feelings -- maybe for the first time. Sometimes, just talking over a situation out loud makes it easier to see what needs to be done.

Therapy also lets people vent their anger, disappointment and frustration with a spouse in a safe place -- to someone that will never betray their confidences. That's sometimes the only healthy way to get over a bad situation and get rid of those negative feelings so that you can try again. If you address a spouse directly with a big barrage of complaints, you may be killing off any remaining hope for the relationship.

Therapy is also good once someone has made the slow, painful choice to divorce. A therapist can help you decide what is most important to you, what you ultimately want to get out of the divorce and what new future goals you can focus on. Therapy can also help you find a way to cope with your feelings during the divorce so that you don't make rash, emotional decisions when a cool head needs to prevail.

Having a therapist can also prevent you from trying to use your attorney as a therapist. Many people in unhappy marriages are desperate for a "sounding board" because they no longer have their spouse to act as one. That can make your meetings with your attorney longer -- and more expensive -- than necessary.

If you're thinking about a divorce or are already in one, therapy is a good idea. Just be clear about the fact that the decision to divorce is always going to be up to you -- not your therapist.

Source: HuffPost, "Do Couples Therapists Ever Suggest Divorce?," Brittany Wong, April 16, 2018

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