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The Support of a Mental Health Professional Is Integral to Success in Divorce Mediation

Taking the Crisis out of Divorce

Divorce is a time of great upheaval in one's life. Getting through all that divorce entails can be extremely difficult. It is a time that is experienced as a crisis and can feel quite traumatic. Crisis is defined as an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person's life in which decisive change is impending. When in crisis, people often operate in a different mode than everyday life. During a crisis, we often operate in life saving mode. A fight or flight response instinctively takes over. Our thinking and nervous system goes off line. This means that making mindful decisions can be very difficult from a physiological perspective. This directly affects our emotions and actions and can lead to impulsive and poor decision-making, which in turn can derail mediation.

Ideally in our everyday lives, our brain operates in a higher, rational, and reflective thought process. This allows for flexibility of responses and integration of self-awareness. During traumatic crisis there is a shutting down of these higher processes of the brain. This leads to states of intense emotion, which often leads to impulsive reactions, rigid, repetitive responses, and a lack of self-reflection and consideration of another persons view. During this time, the left and right side of the brain have a difficult time working together. Therefore emotional and rational thinking are unable to integrate with one another. This crisis mode of operating is often what leads to an impasse and breakdown of negotiation during mediation.

This is precisely why having a mental health professional participate in your mediation, with an attorney or a retired judge, can prove very useful and lead to a more successful outcome. A mental health professional can help a client bring emotion and thinking together to lead to a higher mode of processing. During a time of crisis, a support system is crucial. A neutral mental health professional can serve as a support system as a means to process emotional reactivity so that rational thinking can prevail over impulsive lower processing thinking.

If children and custody are at issue the higher mode of processing is critical for their future. The success of mediation is crucial to keeping people out of court, where their fate lies in the hands of attorneys and judges and takes the power out of the client's hands. If a mindful mediation can take place, then the client retains control of the outcome of their life moving forward. A mental health professional's sole goal is exactly this. Provide emotional support so that the crisis mode of functioning does not drive the mediation, but a rational, reflective thought process and negotiation takes place leading to a healthy outcome for both parties as they move to the next phase of their life.

I want to do everything I can to assure your successful mediation.

Karen Horwitz, MFT

Categories: Family Mediation

Posted By Karen Horwitz, M.F.T. on May 29, 2011 07:34 am | Permalink 

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