Divorce and Separation
What is it
The end of a marriage or long term relationship is never easy for anyone involved.
Divorce or separation can cause considerable upheaval in the lives of those affected. However, personal differences mean that whilst some individuals experience a downward trajectory and never fully recover, others experience only temporary decrements in well-being. Conversely, divorce has been observed to actually benefit some individuals who go on to rebuild their lives in meaningful and satisfying ways post-divorce (Amato, 2000).
Divorce is the legal end of a marriage, whilst separation can refer to the separation of a married couple prior to divorce or reconciliation, or to the ending of a long term relationship. One study of outcomes following divorce reported that there was little evidence to indicate that adjustment to divorce was affected by loss of income, loss of mutual friends, or having to move house. However, adjustment to divorce was found to be positively associated with income, the formation of new relationships, remarriage, having a positive attitude toward marital dissolution prior to divorce, and being the initiator of the divorce. In addition, older individuals were found to experience more difficulty adjusting to divorce than did younger individuals (Wang & Amato, 2000).
What it includes
A common concern regarding divorce or separation is the potential impact on children. Whilst some evidence indicates that children of divorced parents score lower on a range of psychological, emotional and developmental outcomes than children of intact families, the differences are relatively small (Amato & Keith, 1991).
How a Clinical Psychologist Can Help
Divorce or separation inevitably present a range of emotional challenges. Psychological therapy can provide support during this difficult transition and strategies to manage the emotional roller coaster that many individuals experiencing divorce or separation may find themselves on. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for instance, can assist individuals to accept the end of their relationship and provide them with the support to move on.
Amato, P.R. (2000). The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62 (4) 1269–1287.
Wang, H., & Amato, P. R. (2000). Predictors of Divorce Adjustment: Stressors, Resources, and Definitions. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62 (3), 655–668.
Amato, P. R., & Keith, B. (1991). Parental divorce and the well-being of children: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 110 (1), 26-46.
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