Divorce can be an emotionally challenging and complex process, requiring individuals to navigate through a myriad of emotions, legal procedures, and life transitions. During this time, many people seek professional guidance to help them manage their emotions, cope with the changes, and make informed decisions. Two common sources of support are therapists and coaches. While both professionals offer valuable assistance, it is essential to understand the differences between them to choose the most suitable support for your needs. In this article, we will explore the distinctions between therapists and coaches when it comes to divorcing.



Therapists: Focused on Emotional Healing

Therapists, such as licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, or licensed clinical social workers, are mental health professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating emotional and psychological issues. When it comes to divorce, Dr Warren Shepell, Pioneer of EAPs in Canada, highlights that therapists primarily focus on helping individuals heal emotional wounds and develop healthy coping strategies.

  1. Emotional Support: Therapists provide a safe space for individuals to express their emotions and process the grief, anger, anxiety, or depression often associated with divorce. They employ various therapeutic techniques, such as talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or psychoanalysis, to assist clients in exploring their feelings and addressing underlying issues.
  2. Trauma Resolution: Divorce can be a traumatic experience, and therapists are trained to help individuals work through the emotional aftermath. They can help individuals heal from past traumas that may have contributed to the breakdown of the relationship and guide them in building resilience for the future.
  3. Mental Health Diagnosis and Treatment: Therapists are qualified to diagnose and treat mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If divorce exacerbates or reveals pre-existing mental health concerns, therapists can offer appropriate interventions and refer clients to other specialists if necessary.


 Divorce Coaches: Focused on Goal-Oriented Guidance

Divorce Coaches, on the other hand, are professionals who specialize in guiding individuals towards achieving specific goals, enhancing personal growth, and providing practical support during the divorce process. Unlike therapists, divorce coaches do not diagnose or treat mental health disorders but instead focus on empowering their clients to make decisions and take action.

  1. Goal Setting: Divorce Coaches assist individuals in clarifying their goals and priorities before making the decision to divorce and during the divorce process. Whether it’s making informed decisions, discussing their thoughts and decisions with the other parent, talking to the children, creating a parenting plan, managing finances, coping and overcoming the daily emotional distress, reducing the legal costs or rebuilding one’s life, divorce coaches provide support and guidance to help clients navigate the challenges they may face.
  2. Practical Strategies: Coaches offer practical strategies and tools to help individuals manage their divorce-related tasks effectively. This may include organizing paperwork, developing communication skills with their attorneys or for effective co-parenting, or creating a post-divorce plan for personal growth and well-being.

 3.  Accountability and Support: Coaches provide accountability and support throughout the divorce process. They hold clients responsible for following through on their goals, help them overcome obstacles, and provide a non-judgmental space for discussing concerns and fears.

Choosing the Right Support

When deciding between a therapist and a coach, it’s important to consider your specific needs and circumstances. If you are struggling with emotional distress, trauma, or mental health issues, a therapist may be the most appropriate choice. They can help you navigate the emotional complexities of divorce and provide the necessary healing and support.

However, if you are primarily seeking guidance for practical matters, goal-setting, strategies, and personal growth during the divorce process, a coach can provide the targeted assistance you need. Coaches can help you develop a plan, gain clarity, and provide support to move forward in a productive and empowered manner.

When going through a divorce, seeking professional support is a wise decision. In some cases, individuals benefit from a combination of therapy and coaching. Collaborating with both professionals can offer a holistic approach, addressing both emotional well-being and practical aspects of divorce. Therapists and coaches bring unique expertise to the table, with therapists focusing on emotional healing and coaches providing practical guidance and goal-oriented support. Understanding the distinctions between these two professionals will help you make an informed choice based on your specific needs and desired outcomes. Remember, whichever path you choose, the most important factor is finding a qualified professional whom you feel comfortable working with, as their expertise and support can make a significant difference in your journey towards a healthy and fulfilling post-divorce life.