Welcome to the world of “pre-divorce coaching.” Just like “pre-commitment” is one of the five stages of relationship coaching that addresses “Is this the right relationship for me?” to provide clarity to their decision making before taking an irreversible step into a committed relationship, “Pre-Divorce” coaching can address “Is divorce the best/only option for me?”
From the perspective of most people considering divorce, they are terrified and conflicted and really need clarity about their path forward. They are terrified they might be making an awful, selfish mistake that they will regret, they are terrified of the consequences for the kids (if any), they are conflicted because they are unhappy and want out but they also love their partner, wish it could work, and have a lot of attachment and history with them.
Getting a divorce without dealing with all this is not a good idea and will bite them big time later if they don’t. Just as pre-commitment coaching promotes long term happiness and can save singles and new couples a lot of future grief, pre-divorce coaching can do so as well.
Required reading is Should I Stay or Should I Go. This could be your Pre-Divorce Coaching Program as it is. The chapter on Commitment (benefits of committed relationship, research results and “when should you break up a committed relationship”) is what someone should carefully review and process as part of their decision making.
Want a highly successful coaching practice? Market some version of “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” as a service to help people struggling in their marriage/relationship with the most painful, agonizing, consequential situation that they will ever experience where clarity would most serve them above all else.
Just like RCI’s coaching programs for singles and pre-committed couples, “pre-divorce” lends itself to a structured program and if you’re a member of RCI you are able to use RCI exercises and resources to easily put together your own coaching program for any relationship niche or specialty, including this one.
Please note that as relationship coaches we do NOT that we have an agenda or bias against divorce, we are simply committed to our client’s long term success and fulfillment. As relationship coaches we have a responsibility to help singles and couples make good long term choices.
Another perspective is the coaching paradigm of Stated Agenda vs. Higher Agenda.
The client’s stated agenda is almost always short term, to solve an immediate problem or accomplish a short term goal that they think will make them happy.
As coaches we know there is a much bigger picture so we start a coaching relationship by helping our client clarify their big picture, long term goal/vision, and all that follows needs to be in alignment with that because it is their Higher Agenda.
The stated agenda of your clients and potential clients might be “I want your help to get a divorce and make it as amicable and painless as possible.”
Their higher agenda is that they want/need to make choices and decisions that will serve their big picture/long term goals, starting with the pre-divorce question “Is divorce the best/only option for me?”
While in Life and Relationship Coaching there are no “right” answers to finding happiness and fulfillment, which is why we strongly advocate an empowerment coaching model, “Divorce Coaching” to help your client navigate the steps and challenges of getting a divorce is a speciality where you really need to be an expert in the process and directly share that expertise with your clients, which is more of a “consultant” model using the label “coaching.” You could say it’s a “hybrid,” but really, once you stray into providing direct information and suggestions, you’re off track from empowerment and you can’t do both effectively. There are some situations in life that people need expert guidance, and this is one of them. Honoring their needs, values, POV, of course, so you DO continue to use your coaching skills.
While “Pre-Divorce” is a stage you can easily incorporate into your relationship coaching services, helping your client actually navigate their divorce is a long process with high emotional and legal ramifications and consequences that requires expertise beyond your RCI training and we recommend one of the following two options-
Option A: Get specialized training unless you have extensive prior professional experience in this area, such as dealing with child custody issues, etc.
Option B: Refer to a divorce expert. You can continue supporting your client as an adjunct.