1. Matching up with therapists is critical. You are an individual. Therapists are individuals, with individual styles and approaches to therapy. The most critical part of a therapeutic separation is a great match with your therapist for each of you.
2. The process of a therapeutic separation begins with a mediator. The mediator guides you as a couple to sort out money, housing, kids and other important issues in a structured agreement. The goal of the mediator is minimizing any conflict surrounding those areas.
3. The next step is a collaborative meeting with the mediator, the couple, and the therapists. Usually, couples’ therapy has ceased. Each individual needs to focus on himself or herself. The goal of the collaborative meeting is to set out clear goals for therapy with benchmarks, usually a check in at three and six months. We want to move the needle in area important to both persons. When couples feel traction, it gives rise to hope and energy for further change with the possibility of reconciliation. At three months, the mediator convenes a collaborative meeting with the couple and therapists. If progress is made, couples’ therapy may now be recommended along with continued individual therapy. If progress has not been made, the couple may decide to continue another three months, or choose to move forward separately with divorce or legal separation.
When couples work hard in therapy on individual change, it usually positively affects the couple relationship leading to reconciliation. If little energy or effort is given toward therapy and change, the result is often the failure of the marriage. We realize even with great effort, change is hard.