In training to become therapists, we receive a great deal of education about marriage and relationships. It never occurred to me until I began working with the divorcing population that nowhere in my undergraduate or graduate school was I ever offered—or did I see—a course on divorce. Given that it's one of the most destabilizing, and common occurrences we ever see, I find that odd.
Other professionals have told me the same thing: there were no classes specifically about divorce where they went to school either.
After working with divorcing men and women for a while (and learning about marital dissolution from them) I began sharing my knowledge with other therapists. I developed what I call the Phoenix Method for Divorce Recovery TM. In this model, therapists all over the country (as well as internationally) have learned to provide Resources, Information and a Supportive Environment to their clients.
The acronym (R.I.S.E.) signifies what is needed to help divorcing clients go from the ashes of the life they once knew to soaring freely. Visit the on-line store if you'd like information about the various divorce courses (link to store) I offer as well as to find out how to join the growing list of PMDR TM practitioners.
The Latest Marriage Trends
In case you haven't noticed, marriage and relationships are changing.
In 2000, when I began working with couples in transition, I had never heard the term "polyamory." Now, I see and hear of it everywhere. I have several clients who are interested in exploring it—or who already practicing polyamory. This is just one example of new relationship model that are here to stay. If we're going to help these clients, we need to know more about these—and other—trends.
When the Great Recession hit, and divorce became unaffordable, many people had to get creative. I saw couples take jobs wherever they could find them, which sometimes meant they lived apart from their spouse and kids (Live Apart Together or LAT Marriage); I saw men and women marry for financial security or health insurance (Safety Marriage); and I saw people with kids who wanted to divorce but couldn't afford two homes simply stay in the same house to co-parent but lead separate lives (Parenting Marriage). There were also those who, rather than splitting up, opened up their marriage to outside lovers (Open Marriage).
In 2014, The New I Do; Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels, was published. This book, that I co-authored with journalist, Vicki Larson, studied how marriage was changing away from the traditional, one-size-fits-all (until death do they part, monogamous, living together, etc.) model and into more personalized models.
As therapists, we can't assume that all of our clients want the same kind of relationships. If you are armed with knowledge of all variations on the theme, you will not only be able to help your clients, but you will avoid harming them.
Over the years, clients have told me that the therapist they used to go to made them feel bad or wrong for wanting something different or for wanting out of their relationship. Obviously, this is a huge disservice to these folks. We have a responsibility to stay on top of how the paradigms of marriage and divorce are changing.