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Divorce isn't easy on anyone. This is especially true for the most vulnerable members of the family unit: children.
In fact, divorce of their parents is one of the most stressful events a child can endure.
The breakdown of a normal family structure, even if it's for the best in the long-term, can leave a child with significant psychological wounds which may manifest in behavioral issues and, down the line, other serious problems in adolescence and adulthood.
Divorce is not a decision that should ever be made lightly, due consideration should be given to the feelings of the child when proceeding with a divorce.
With children comes the expectation that the family unit will remain whole.
That world is all they know and is their primary conception of what is "normal". As children cannot understand the complex reasons that drive a married couple to seek a divorce, many often interpret the event as a devastating blow to their own personal safety and security.
Additionally, as they cannot comprehend the complexity of adult relationship dynamics, many children blame themselves for their parents' divorce. Such feelings of guilt and shame over the divorce of parents can lead to low self-esteem, and subsequently behavioral issues, which may have a significant negative impact on a child's development and growth.
Older children, such as adolescents, may become excessively angry and blame one parent for the breaking of the marriage. Adolescents, in particular, are at risk of partaking in behaviors such as drug use or disobedience as a result of their parents' divorce.
Make no mistake: a divorce is a traumatic event for the children involved, and proper care is necessary to make sure they are able to process their feelings in a healthy way. Additional problems may arise when a child begins to adapt to two new homes, or when a new romantic partner of a parent is introduced into the dynamic.
In the short-term, children may withdraw from their studies, or otherwise, lash out at their friends and teachers. In the long-term, children of divorced families are at an increased risk of conditions such as depression and anxiety.
The negative effects of divorce and the chances that a child will go on to develop a serious issue as a result of this trauma can be greatly mitigated through careful consideration of a child's needs.
In such cases, receiving assistance from a counselor trained in helping children cope with the divorce of their parents can go a long way in helping a child cope with the loss of their parent's marriage, and to better adapt for the long-term.
Divorce therapy for children helps the children of a dissolved marriage cope with any negative feelings that may arise from the end of their parent's marital union, and better adapt to the changing nature of their family dynamic.
Therapists who specialize in divorce therapy for children help children see their parent's divorce from a new perspective, and work to solve any feelings of guilt or confusion that the child may have as a result of the divorce.
This form of therapy is similar to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), in which patients learn to reassess their thoughts and seek out any biases. By reframing their thoughts, children are able to better understand the causes of their parent's divorce and learn skills for coping with the negative feelings that inevitably arise in such situations.
Additional therapy methods, such as play therapy, help these children express their feelings in a safe, self-guided environment. During play therapy, children act out undesirable life experiences, such as divorce, and break them down into manageable, understandable parts.
Children are then encouraged to use creative thinking and problem-solving to build self-confidence and a feeling of competence over their environment, helping to restore a sense of control that is often lost during an event like divorce. Play therapy ultimately helps a child adjust to the realities of an ever-changing world, where negative, traumatic events like divorce are a well-established part of life.
By helping children to reassess their feelings of guilt and loss, and reestablish control over their sense of self and security, play therapy is an effective and positive way for children to cope.
If you and your significant other are in the process of divorce and are worried about the well-being of your child, there is help. Our trained staff of compassionate, qualified professionals are ready to help you and your child adapt to these changes. If you're ready to take the first step, please e-mail us or leave us a phone message. We look forward to meeting with you.