Keeping sane during separation

It is common knowledge that the process of divorce and separation can be emotionally and mentally taxing on everyone involved, and that engaging in litigation can increase that stress and frustration exponentially. Taking steps to manage your mental health and well being during the legal process can help you remain level-headed and clear minded when negotiating with your ex-spouse, and can give you a head start on establishing new routines and positive habits once the litigation is over.

There are, however, a variety of mental health professionals offering services that may benefit you, and which type of service you choose may depend on the specific circumstances of your divorce or separation.

Life/Divorce Coaching

Despite maintaining a somewhat “bohemian” reputation, life coaching or divorce coaching is gaining traction as a method of working through the mundane mental and emotional exhaustion that comes with the process of divorce and separation. The theory of coaching is that, regardless of what your current life circumstances are, the day you begin coaching will be considered “Ground Zero” and you will only work on moving forward.

Given the lack of regulation over the coaching industry, individuals should be cautious and do thorough research before hiring a coach. However, if you are able to find a coach that you trust and connect with, this process may be beneficial for those who are not otherwise suffering from any mental health concerns, but who are just looking to make a fresh start after a divorce or separation, or who are seeking support and guidance through the legal process.


With more training than coaches, counsellors and other therapists are more suited to assisting a broader range of individuals and issues. The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association notes that counselling is principally concerned with helping individuals “resolve specific problems, make decisions, cope with crises, develop personal insights and knowledge, work through feelings of inner conflict, or improve relationships with others.”

Whether you attend with a licensed counsellor, psychotherapist, or psychologist, therapy may be beneficial for those who are struggling with depression, anxiety, or other emotional burdens, such as betrayal or anger, that you believe may be clouding your ability to effectively negotiate with your former spouse. Depending on the age of your children, parents may also benefit from attending at family counselling in order to ease the mental and emotional burden on all members of the family.

Risk Assessment

Conducted by a registered psychologist or psychiatrist with specialized training, a Risk Assessment is a formal process generally ordered by the courts for individuals that present one or more risk factors with respect to parenting. These risk factors can include, but are not limited to, drug and alcohol addiction, criminal convictions involving violence, a history of domestic violence (often articulated through Emergency Protection Orders or other No Contact Orders), mental health concerns, and other concerns, including issues related to sexual abuse or violence.

If any of these concerns have arisen in the course of your divorce or separation proceedings, you do not need to wait until a court orders you to undergo a Risk Assessment before seeking the professional advice or assistance of a psychologist or psychiatrist. Formal assessments are often only ordered in severe cases, but those who are struggling with addictions, mental health crises, or who have a history of violent behaviour may benefit (both personally and in court) from taking proactive steps to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

If you are confused about which style of services may be the best for you, your lawyer may be able to provide you with a recommendation or even a referral. Although some clients are concerned about the stigma associated with seeking out mental health resources, being clear-minded and having the proper support systems in place will enable you to provide your lawyer with better instructions and to traverse the legal process with greater clarity and less emotional stress.

Article by Staci Smith

Disclaimer :

Although we are a law firm, this blog post does not constitute legal advice. It is for informational or entertainment purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as financial or legal advice of any kind. You should consult with a lawyer before relying on any of the information contained in this blog post. We can be contacted at (403) 981 0700 to set up a consultation with one of our lawyers who can review the specific circumstances of your matter and provide you with personalised legal advice.