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Divorce and Defeating Anxiety

I just returned from LA where, with my training team, I presented a three-day training in Collaborative Divorce. One initial observation I made from this training: many divorce lawyers who practice non-collaboratively are highly anxious and strung out about their work. Throughout the training, time and again, I saw and heard professionals express levels of high anxiety and borrowed worry about their clients:

  • “What about getting my client’s needs met?”
  • “I would feel ashamed of myself if I didn’t get in there and pitch for my client”.
  • “I am supposed to fight for my client. I just can’t sit around and keep quiet!”

Now that we understand, through many years of Collaborative work, that divorcing clients are at some level of trauma/crisis when they seek out a lawyer; we also realize that, as their divorce professionals, we are ever-at-risk to go into the trauma with them and begin reacting with impulsive, limbic aggression “on behalf of the client”. We mistakenly think that this is what is expected of us: to take on the trauma of the client.

In Collaborative Divorce, we notice the trauma of the client, but we do NOT take it on. Instead, we meet the client in the trauma-fog of his/her divorce and we help lead them out to various financial, emotional and legal safety zones which alleviate their anxiety and empower them to be rationally and responsibly present for a recuperative and constructive divorce resolution. This is a much more creative and satisfying way to work.

If you are a divorce professional, do yourself a vocational favor and get trained in Collaborative Divorce. You will be much less anxious and more pleased in the positive meaning of your work.

Upcoming trainings:

  • New York-September 26-27
  • Phoenix-January 16-18

http://www.collaborativedivorceinstitute.com

I hope to see you there!

5 thoughts on “Divorce and Defeating Anxiety

  1. Dear Ellie,
    As a participant in the training you refer to, I can only agree. The Collaborative work is my favorite of the roles I play in doing family law work with families; I love the teamwork. Having these Streamlined Protocols is incredibly helpful in the higher functioning of our teams.
    Thank you for the many years of honing the protocols and finding ways for collaborative divorce teams to be tighter and more efficient. Warmly, Mary Ann

  2. I’m helping a family member through the initial stps of divorce, and I really appreciate the work of collaborative divorce practitioners. In many instances, it is a miraculous innovation. It helps to think of divorcing couples as trauma survivors as it allows us to make sense of much “irrational” behavior. The difficulty of course is that lawyers are trained to be gladiators for our clients even when our “zealous advocacy” only fuels the irrational behavior. Glad to see you are working with lawyers to address the issues differently.

  3. I’m helping a family member through the initial stps of divorce, and I really appreciate the work of collaborative divorce practitioners. In many instances, it is a miraculous innovation. It helps to think of divorcing couples as trauma survivors as it allows us to make sense of much “irrational” behavior. The difficulty of course is that lawyers are trained to be gladiators for our clients even when our “zealous advocacy” only fuels the irrational behavior. Glad to see you are working with lawyers to address the issues differently

  4. I can see how trying to meet your client’s needs in a divorce case can be really stressful for lawyers. It seems like good advice to lawyers to avoid taking on what the client is going through, and to try to empower the client with the legal information that they need to try to help them get through a divorce the best that they can.

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