Counseling for Breakups, Separation, and/or Divorce

at Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids

Counseling for Breakups, Separation, and/or Divorce
In Grand Rapids, MI and West Michigan At Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids, MI

Ending a relationship with your loved one is one of the most emotionally challenging experiences in life. It doesn’t matter whether you’re breaking up with your partner, going through a separation, or facing a divorce — each time an intimate relationship reaches its end, it leaves us feeling negative emotions, such as sadness, loss, and uncertainty about the future.

During these times, the path to healing can seem unclear, and the support of friends and family, while invaluable, might not be enough to cope with the overwhelming emotions you’re experiencing.

In these moments, counseling can be a source of hope and healing you’re looking for. In fact, studies show that counseling is an effective way to deal with depression, rumination, and unresolved emotional issues post breakup (e.g., Soltani & Fatehizade, 2020).

In this article, we’ll explain how counseling can help you process complex emotions, grieve the loss, and rediscover yourself.

Emotional Impact of Relationship Breakups

Even though heartbreaks are a natural part of human life, sometimes the end of a significant relationship can disrupt the foundation of your identity and life plans. The reason is that losing a significant other is an enormous life change, whether you were the one who initiated the breakup or the decision was made by your partner. In either case, you’ll probably find yourself experiencing a range of feelings that might be intense, sometimes overwhelming, and difficult to accept.

These are some of the most common emotions triggered by breakups, divorce, or separation from your partner:

  • Trauma

Studies show that romantic relationship breakups can be potentially traumatic and in some cases, it even leads to post-traumatic stress symptoms (Wan der Watt et al., 2023). This trauma often manifests in feelings of panic, disorientation, and a sense of detachment from reality. Sometimes it can even cause emotional responses such as sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, physical pains, and mood swings, as well as insecurity and fear of abandonment (Field et al., 2021).

  • Grief

The end of a relationship is often related to a bereavement process that involves stages of grief and loss. Other than their partner and the relationship itself, the shared future, identity, and plans are also perceived as significant losses. These feelings are especially heightened in cases of divorce (Lydon, 2005). However, keep in mind that it’s a natural response to mourn the loss of what was once a significant part of your life.

  • Trust Issues

Following a breakup, separation, or divorce, it’s common to experience trust issues. In fact, you may notice that you are questioning not only the reliability and intentions of others but also your own judgment in relationships.

These trust issues can manifest as hesitancy to open up to new relationships, fear of being vulnerable, or anxiety about future betrayals. While it’s a normal response, if not addressed, it can lead to long-term challenges in forming healthy, trusting relationships in the future.

  • Rollercoaster of Emotions

A breakup can trigger a wide range of emotions, including anger, guilt, shame, sadness, and even a sense of failure. These emotions can fluctuate rapidly and make people feel overwhelmed. Understanding and processing these emotions might require professional help from a therapist who can help you understand the root causes of these feelings.

The Role of Counseling in Post-Breakup Healing

After a relationship ends, individuals may experience anxiety, signs of depression, anger, stress, low self-esteem, and various other symptoms that might complicate optimal everyday functioning. Sometimes, it’s hard to process these feelings on your own. Unfortunately, unprocessed feelings negatively affect your emotional well-being and mental health.

Counseling provides a supportive environment where you can address these challenging emotions after a relationship breakup, separation, or divorce. A professional therapist is equipped with the necessary skills to guide you during this tough time and help you develop adaptive coping mechanisms to heal and continue living without the burden of unresolved emotional pain.

Specifically, counseling after ending a relationship is beneficial to:

  • Identify and process emotions — Therapists can help you recognize and understand the complex emotions you are experiencing. This process can simplify the process of emotional healing.
  • Develop coping mechanisms — Counselors help individuals develop strategies to cope with the immediate emotional impact of the breakup. These mechanisms are essential for regaining emotional balance and preventing long-term psychological effects.
  • Rebuild self-esteem — A breakup can significantly impact your self-esteem. Therapists work with you to see your value independent of the relationship. Consequently, you will be able to rebuild your sense of self-worth and confidence.

Counseling for BreakUps

Research indicates that specific therapeutic approaches, such as Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT), are beneficial in reducing depression and rumination post-breakup (Soltani & Fatehizade, 2020).

Moreover, a 2022 study showed that Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) improved mental pain, experiential avoidance, and forgiveness in women who were diagnosed with depression after a relationship breakup (Ertezaee et al., 2022).

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is one of the most effective forms of counseling in treating complicated breakup grief, particularly when focused on repetitive negative thinking. According to a 2022 study, ACT significantly decreased breakup distress and emotional symptoms and improved life satisfaction (Media-Reina & Ruiz, 2022).

Counseling for Separation and Divorce

A study conducted on the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) after separation found that this therapeutic approach can significantly reduce separation anxiety among individuals going through a divorce. In fact, those who underwent ACT sessions showed a notable decrease in their anxiety levels compared to the control group, who did not receive this intervention. (Navayseh, 2022).

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a form of CBT that focuses on accepting existing thoughts and feelings, instead of replacing or avoiding them.

Beyond the individuals involved, divorce can significantly impact children and the overall dynamics of post-divorce life. That’s why it’s important for divorced parents to learn effective communication and co-parenting strategies. Studies show that counseling is also effective not only in the decision-making phase but also in post-divorce communication and co-parenting (Emerson et al., 2021).

Find the Right Therapist in Michigan

If you’re considering therapy after a relationship breakup, separation, or divorce in Michigan, Health for Life Counseling is here to support you through this challenging time. Our professional therapists are available to provide a range of therapeutic approaches, including Trauma-Informed Counseling, Couples Counseling, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and other effective methods that can support you through this difficult time.

At our offices in Grand Rapids, MI, and Ada, MI, as well as through online counseling, we offer a compassionate and understanding environment where you can explore your feelings to start the healing process and rebuild your life with a sense of resilience.

Keep in mind that we accept a wide range of health insurance options, including Meritain Health, Optum, Blue Cross Complete, UMR, and many more. Here’s the full list of insurances we accept.

Therapists For Counseling for Breakups, Separation, and/or Divorce

Lucas Perkins, Counseling Intern

Culturally Sensitive & Holistic Counseling for Adults, College students, and Older Teens

Kori Crask

Trauma-Informed Counseling and EMDR Therapy for long-term healing

Kaiti VanWormer, Counseling Intern

Culturally Sensitive and Creative Person-Centered Counseling

Amanda Miller

Guiding Teens and Adults to Recognize their Strengths; EMDR, DBT, and More

Katy Sandison

Supportive Therapy for Anxiety, Deconstruction Issues, Life Transitions and More

Dana Kennedy

Relational, trauma-informed, strengths-based therapy with a foundation of authenticity and hospitality to heal and grow

Ben Zimmerman

Non-judgmental Therapy Space Focused on Personal Development and Empowerment

Caley Weisgerber

Compassionate and Empowering Therapy for Deep Healing

Stephen Lovell, Counseling Intern

Person-Centered Counseling for Children, Teens, and Adults

Jonathan Swiftney

Culturally Sensitive & Holistic Counseling for Adults and Adolescents

Natalie Julien

Integrative, Intuitive, Mindfulness-Based,Trauma-Informed Therapy for Women, Parents, & Young Adults

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