Counseling Children Through Divorce

Statistics surrounding divorce are heartbreaking. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2012) for every 1,000 people there are 6.8 marriages and for every 1,000 people there are 3.6 divorces. Marriages are constantly breaking up and within those marriages are precious children being faced with difficult life situations. The 2009 American Community Survey indicates that only 47% of children reach the age of 17 in an intact married family. The effects of divorce on children are related to the degree of conflict level within the parents’ relationship. Counseling is encouraged for children of divorce to adapt to their situation and to learn to express emotion and gain proper coping skills. Studies in the area of effect of divorce on children vary greatly. Some research will suggest a lower level of well-being in children of divorced families when compared to intact families, while others suggest that the majority of children can overcome this situation with no difference in well-being. Research can conclude though that the higher conflict divorce, the greater the effects on the children. Stressors such as change in community, friends, or school, a decline in economic status, as well as less time with each parent and an inevitable sense or fear of abandonment lead to diminished functioning or health. Effects can be seen within relationships and interpersonal skills, diminished religious faithfulness, educational achievement, future income, and physical, emotional, and psychological health. The effects of divorce seem to be life altering in many cases. Children’s adjustment to marital discourse and divorce can be helped through various types of therapy. Group therapy seems to be a leading approach to helping children of divorce, such as Divorce Care. Behavior change theory has been suggested to assist the parents in becoming better models and more peaceful in co-parenting. The use of expressive arts in all therapy is intriguing and has shown to be helpful with children of divorce. Considering level of conflict amongst the parents is a determining factor on how effected the children are from the divorce, co parenting counseling can reduce the conflict and bring parent’s together to raise the children in a united relationship while remaining separated, all within the best interest of the children. Those attending co-parenting counseling are typically court ordered. However, some parents chose to participate in co parenting in order to ensure a healthy environment for their children. Co parenting counseling gives the parents the opportunity to sort through parenting issues and learn to provide a stable atmosphere for their children rather than taking one another to court to resolve conflicts. It is imperative for our nation to understand the impact that divorce, especially high conflict divorce, has on children. Many children go through these difficult transitions without appropriate care and will possibly pass to the next generation the legacy of divorce. By providing children with appropriate counseling and entering into co parenting counseling the impact can be minimized.