May 9, 2013

Avoiding the Hazards During Divorce

2201935912_69205e215a_zI had a familiar conversation recently, this time on the golf course.  As with life, golf is both precise and random: precise because there are exactly 18 holes to play, and random because a golfer never quite knows how the ball will fly from time to time nor with whom the starter will pair you up to play.  We were paired with two great golfers who both happened to be named Sean.

Sean #1 asked what I did for a living.  I gave him my elevator speech about being a Neutral Child Specialist in Collaborative Team Practice  and he said, “Wow, that sounds awesome… must be really hard work.”  My response is always that sometimes it’s hard work, but mostly it’s very rewarding to help families make the difficult transition from married to unmarried with less acrimony and stress for kids.  Sean got a faraway look in his eyes and said, “I can sure see that.”

What he was seeing in his mind’s eye, I can only imagine.  But often I will hear from young adults with whom I share my work that they wished Collaborative Team Practice had been available to their family when their parents were getting divorced.  I have yet to meet anyone who said, “Well, I for one am very grateful that my parents’ divorce was highly acrimonious and adversarial because it was so character-building for me.”

We can’t pretend that ending a marriage will be a pain-free proposition, especially if there are children involved.  Divorce is a life crisis for all family members.   Collaborative Team Practice is designed to help keep the crisis of divorce from ever becoming a trauma for a child, because there is a profound difference how each impacts the child’s resilience and sense of hope.

If you are a golfer, here’s another way to think about it.  Collaborative Team Practice is both precise and random:  precise because there is a structured, supportive format for the process and random because of unique family circumstances and unpredictable challenges that arise from time to time.   But the pairing of a family with a Collaborative team has great potential value.  Collaborative Team Practice helps parents keep their eye on the ball and the ball on the fairway, away from hazards and deep rough where it could easily get lost.

Deborah Clemmensen
Licensed Psychologist

Deborah Clemmensen, M.Eq., Licensed Psychologist was a child and family clinician for many years before her discovery of Collaborative Team Practice in 2000 motivated the transformation of her professional role from therapist to Neutral Child Specialist. This work---hearing the voices of every family member during a divorce or break up, keeping children at the center and out of the middle, and assisting parents in the creation of developmentally responsive parenting plans---is both a passion and a privilege. Find out more about Deborah's work at

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