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Divorce and Kids: When Is It Time to See a Therapist?

A serious teenage girl gestures as she sits on a couch in her school counselor's office and talks to her counselor. The counselor takes notes on a clipboard.

Divorce is hard on everyone involved, and often more so on children. During and after divorce, children are dealing with a lot of upheaval and, like you, probably have a mix of feelings, including anger, sadness, guilt and confusion.

Parents may think they are benefiting their children a service by avoiding discussion of the disagreements often associated with divorce. However, you may do the children a disservice by pretending that everything is fine and that no conflict exists. Mental health experts agree that children do best if they can trust their parents to be honest with them, and that includes open talk about the realities of divorce.

That does not mean that every child will accept these realities without emotional distress. If your child is crying every day, acts out violently, seems withdrawn, is having issues at school and has lost weight or shows other physical symptoms, it may be time to consult a professional. And the earlier you do so, the better.

Finding a therapist suited to the task can be a challenge. Research various options, from psychiatrists and psychologists to social workers and licensed professional counselors, and keep an open mind about lower cost alternatives. Once you have your short list confirmed, call a handful of therapists to get a feel for their personality and how they respond to your concerns and answer your questions. You can ask how long they have been practicing, how many children of divorce are in their current practice and how they approach working with children around the age of your child.

Experienced family law attorneys who regularly represent clients in custody matters often have ties to the mental health professional community. Ask your lawyer for a recommendation. Your lawyer may be able to tell you a little bit about a particular therapist — such as whether he or she works with a lot of teens or is really great with younger children — to help you narrow down your options. You can also ask family and friends for referrals and check those names against providers listed in your health plan.

Whether you decide your child could benefit from a therapist or not, having a competent, skilled professional to counsel you during divorce and custody proceedings is essential

If you have questions about a divorce involving children, contact Scottsdale divorce attorney Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. for a free consultation at our Scottsdale office. You can reach us by phone at 602-789-3497 or contact us online.

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