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Licensed Mental Health Professionals play an invaluable part in the Collaborative Divorce process to both clients and attorneys. For lawyers, the Mental Health Professional serves as an important resource by assisting them in understanding their clients’ concerns, fears, and emotional triggers, and may offer critical help in settlement negotiations by identifying psychological and emotional roadblocks to settlement—defining how a clients’ feelings inhibit progress and suggest a framework for more fruitful results. The Mental Health Professional may further help lawyers in realizing how their own behaviors and reactions might be causing annoyance or anger to one or both clients and may suggest that the lawyers approach issues in various ways which will be better received by clients achieving better results.

For the clients, the decision to divorce typically takes place over a sequence of years during which one or even both clients developed deeply entrenched feelings of animosity and hurt which upset the roots of each person’s normalcy. The existence of a Mental Health Professional on the Collaborative Divorce team may transfer the burden of identifying and dealing with any resulting challenging client behaviors and may diffuse the intensity of a clients’ psychological and emotional obstructions as compared with attorneys who work with clients in isolation. Therefore, the  capability of a lawyer to navigate and acknowledge the intensity of the client’s emotional trauma isn’t as effective as the talent of a Mental Health Professional, who’s uniquely trained to work with and hear traumatic feelings.

In order to elaborate, there are a plethora of emotions, as well as resulting behaviors which might influence the client’s approach to the process of divorce—which includes distrust, denial, fear, distance, guilt, anxiety, anger, love, grief, revenge, and depression. Some behaviors might be longstanding, as well as form the basis for the need for separation, whereas others just might have resulted from the additional client’s need to leave  the marriage. Oftentimes, both participants will feel victimized by those behaviors, thereby creating extra resentment, anxiety, sadness, impatience, and dependency. While Mental Health Professionals do not diagnose or treat clients in the process of a Collaborative Divorce, they, nonetheless, have the ability to evaluate the mental health symptoms and capacity of the clients, as well as, how their behaviors were pathological to the couple; Mental Health Professionals intervene to benefit the team’s dynamic.  This collaboration lifts the burden from the lawyers, allowing the process to be more cost-effective.

Most importantly, the Mental Health Professional may assist in guiding the Collaborative Divorce team in evaluating if couples who have had problems with coercive control, intimate partner violence, or substance abuse behaviors will have the ability to take part within the collaborative process by assessing the seriousness of the conduct, as well as the difference between workable behaviors and pathological issues.

For more information on the role of the collaboratively trained mental health professional please feel free to get in touch with Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association at (818) 933-4505 right away!

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