Dr. Nutashia Baynes
PhD, LPC, CST
- Couples Therapy
- Confidential treatment of sexual issues
Divorce Coaching & Mediation Services
Disputes happen. Disagreements between parties are a part of everyday life. Sometimes the nature of the dispute is relatively minor—the classic example being the neighbor's barking dog, although this may not seem like a "minor" problem if you happen to be the neighbor next door! At other times the dispute is deeply profound, as in the case of the dissolution of a marriage.
The formal management and resolution of disputes was once the sole purview and responsibility of the court system. Now, however, there is increased recognition that the skill set possessed by mental health providers can be invaluable to resolve disputes in a manner which is more timely, sensitive and cost-efficient than is available through the courts.
Methods, which are used to settle disputes in a setting other than a courtroom are often grouped together under the rubric of "alternative dispute resolution." Divorce coaching provided in the course of a collaborative divorce, as well as mediation, are two distinct forms of alternative dispute resolution available through mental health providers. Ardent Counseling Center is a provider of both of these forms of alternative dispute resolution.
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The concept of using the services of a coach to provide support, education and skill development for parties pursuing divorce comes from a relatively new approach to divorce: collaborative family law. Traditionally, the process of terminating a marriage has involved litigation. This is an adversarial process, quite often very painful and expensive, which can create lasting ill will between the parties, interfering with later efforts by ex-spouses to join together as parents after the divorce. An alternative to the litigated divorce, collaborative family law or collaborative divorce, was developed in the early 1990's and in some localities this approach has become the predominant and preferred method for resolving divorce actions. More information concerning the history and practice of collaborative family law is available through the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois at www.collablawil.org.
In the context of collaborative family law, a divorce coach is a mental health professional who helps clients navigate through the emotional challenges of divorce while clients resolve their legal issues in a non-adversarial manner. The coach supports effective communication, problem solving and helps to guide clients through the grieving, which often occurs during the divorce process. The coach does not serve as a therapist, does not render opinions or recommendations concerning key issues (e.g., child custody) and most certainly does not offer legal advice. Instead, the coach helps their client manage obstacles that may arise during the divorce process—such as emotional struggles, impaired problem solving, communication breakdowns and difficulties envisioning future needs and preferences. The goal is to support the client's own strengths in maintaining a respectful, constructive approach to the divorce process.
Divorce coaching sessions are provided individually, on a time-limited basis. If needed, the coach may also attend conferences with the couple seeking divorce and their respective attorneys. Collaborative divorce, by definition, is a team project and coaches play an integral role in the process, maintaining ongoing communication and involvement with their client and their attorney. Typically, the coaching relationship terminates at the conclusion of the divorce.
Mediation is another form of alternative dispute resolution offered by Ardent Counseling Center. Mediation is a process designed to help parties resolve disputes, always with the goal of reaching an agreement of some kind. A defining feature of mediation is that the parties themselves determine the nature of the resulting settlement rather than having an agreement imposed upon them by a third party. Mediators facilitate this process by opening or improving dialogue between the disputants, maintaining a position of impartiality, directing the flow of dialogue between the two parties, enabling them to develop an agreement, which is realistic, viable and enduring.
Parties in conflict—couples seeking divorce, businesses involved in a dispute, families in turmoil, tenants embroiled in a disagreement with their landlord—often seek mediation as a means of resolving their differences and reaching an agreement. People typically choose mediation for the following reasons:
Mediation costs are typically far less than the expense of litigation.
Experience has shown that resolution of disagreements through mediation is a much more efficient and rapid process than bringing disputes to court.
While court cases occur in public, the mediation process is private and typically only the outcome—the agreement between the parties in conflict—is public record.
Mediation offers the disputants the opportunity to be creative in crafting an agreement which best meets their respective needs and interests. By contrast, a decision imposed upon the disputants by a third party (e.g., a court of law) may leave neither party happy with the outcome.
Since the agreement has been developed by the disputants it is more likely to be a viable, realistic and durable resolution with which both parties will comply, requiring less enforcement by a third party in the future.
Contact us to find out more about how we can support you through your divorce.
We look forward to working with you.
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