Divorce Family Therapy

Divorce Counseling Sherman Oaks | Divorce: Making the best of a bad situation

Divorce counseling Sherman Oaks with Linda Engel. The decision to terminate a marriage is a profound step towards beginning a more effective and satisfying life. One of the most important issues to keep in mind during the process is what your goal is. So, for example, if your goal is to have a healthy coparenting relationship, then you will approach the negotiations with that idea in mind. If your goal is to have an equitable settlement and you happen to be dealing with a particularly difficult spouse, it may serve you better to communicate through attorneys. “Just the facts” and keeping it simple will head off lots of unpleasant and ugly conversations. Negotiations to end a relationship are always difficult due to the emotions involved. Be sure to keep in mind that you want things to be fair, not that you need to punish your partner.

Consider this: Think about the type of emotions involved when you are planning a vacation or a party, any sort of a celebration. Although it may be a lot of work, the idea and the motivation behind it are very different and therefore make it much easier to do.

If you need divorce counseling sherman oaks, remember that most people do not get to the point of divorce without some serious consideration, particularly where there are children involved. If you can keep in mind a few important ideas, the transition, albeit painful, can be a bit smoother.

Remember that no relationship is a mistake nd that we learn important things about ourselves in each one. It is sad when people who come together for love cannot remain together, but it need not be tragic.

Divorce can be an empowering and freeing event ultimately. You can even teach children wonderful lessons about ending or changing relationships with grace and dignity. You need NOT be bitter in the end. Of course, at first, often there is a lot of anger and a sense of betrayal. Actually, one of the stages of grief is anger. Divorce is a loss and the relationship must be grieved properly. It IS important t have a healthy outlet for the anger. It may be a support group, healthy friends, a therapist or a religious leader. You will need a supportive ear to listen to your feelings. Usually underneath the anger is fear and hurt. the fear could be financial or emotional.

You may be asking yourself questions like “How will I survive? Will I be judged? Will I ever have love again?” The longer the marriage was, the more difficult it is to recover. Some psychologists believe that for every five years of a marriage that it takes up to one year to heal. But heal, you can. With the proper support and the right attitude, your divorce can go from a painful and overwhelming ending of a union to a beautiful new path to a lifestyle that is more fitting to the person that you have become.

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HOW TO CHOOSE A THERAPIST | Therapist Sherman Oaks

Need a Therapist Sherman Oaks or and Los Angeles area? You know you need hep but where do you start? What kind of help?How do you know if someone is good, or more importantly, “a good fit”? There are many things to consider when choosing a therapist.

First, it is important to have a clear understanding of the professional qualifications of a therapist and what exactly the letters after their name really mean. What degrees/licenses do they hold?

An M.D. (medical doctor, as most are aware) is psychiatrist and is at the highest level of education of a therapist that you can see. However, this does not necessarily make this professional the best choice. For one thing, they will be the most expensive. In the 40’s and 50’s, most psychotherapy was done by psychiatrists and the most common modality was psychoanalysis. This took lots of time and money. Most people, these days are not capable or interested in this sort of therapy. These days few psychiatrists engage in extensive long term treatment. Mostly they focus on areas such as evaluation for possible hospitalization or the prescription of psychotropic medication.

Next are psychologists. They hold a Phd. in psychology. They have done some primary research as well as having had extensive education with regard to secondary research (studies, that others do). They are qualified to do testing.

Two other types of psychotherapists are LMFT’s and LCSW’s. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers hold Master’s degrees in their respective fields. Some therapists work especially with children or families. Some work exclusively with couples. Some work with groups or individuals. Some are generalists. Another issue to consider is what that person’s specialty or experience is and how long they have been in practice.

As in any profession, when someone specializes in one area, they will have more knowledge, experience and expertise as well as comfort and confidence in that area. So, as one psychiatrist states, “If I were on an elevator with a woman who suddenly went into labor, I could deliver the baby, but she would much rather have her obstetrician do it. ” Each field has it’s own regulatory board. The AMA, American Medical Association for doctors, the APA, the American Psychological Association for Phd’s. and for LCSW’s and LMFT’s, there is the BBS, Board of Behavioral Sciences.

And then, and this is most important, there is the “human factor”. This pertains to the “vibe” of the particular professional in question. Let’s say that you have checked the person out and that they come highly recommended, but that upon meeting them or speaking on the telephone, there is something “off” In other words, even the most accomplished, educated and successful psychotherapist may not be right for you. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! If the first encounter goes badly, it is likely that it will not change. Most therapists do offer at least a 20 minute telephone session (gratis) so that you can check them out. Don’t be afraid to ask for their license number, their educational background and their experience.

Remember, even if you only work with this person for 3-4 months, it is a very personal relationship. It is important that you feel comfortable, so that you can make the most of the help that they can provide. You can ask your primary care physician as they are often a good resource for a referral. In fact it is probably good to get 3 referrals and compare how you feel with each of them. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries to find the right fit. It is worth it!

Divorce Family Therapy

Divorce Therapy Sherman Oaks & Encino | FOUR STEPS TO SURVIVING DIVORCE


Get the anger, frustration, hurt and fear of both your financial and emotional future out in a healthy way. This is often the “He’s a bastard/She’s a bitch” stage which is when you may want to tell anyone who wil listen how unfairly you have been treated. DO NOT go to friends/family members for comfort who have gone through bitter divorces and are still angry after many years. If you have children, be mindful of talking about the details of the divorce in their presence or even within earshot. This can be particularly painful for children if they hear their parents speaking disparagingly of each other. Remember, they are also devastated by the breakup of the family and you are talking about their other parent. Don’t make children feel as though they must “choose sides”.

Support groups, church, temple can be a good resource. If you fall into a major depression, particularly if you have feelings of hurting yourself, do not hesitate to speak with your doctor and get a referral for a good therapist or psychiatrist. Speaking wth friends or family members who are happy and well adjusted, whether they are “happily married” or “happily single” can be extremely comforting.


Resist the urge to overeat, drink excessively, to stop exercising and to isolate socially. If you belong to a religious, spiritual, athletic or social group, now is a good time to maintain your involvement. Don’t neglect medical care. During this highly stressful time, it is easy to skip medical checkups or to assign any physical symptoms only to the stress of the divorce. Check with your doctor to rule out medical issues.

Be careful driving. Often this is a time when people are distracted and unfocused and the risk for accidents can be higher. During the initial stages of divorce, DON’T DATE YET. Give yourself some time to process what went wrong in your relationship and how you would like to change your own behavior in order to ensure a healthier future relationship. You will probably be a lot more vulnerable and your selection of a new partner will be very different from when you are stronger.

Remember-All of this adjustment is temporary.

Good self care also includes resisting the urge to fight with your ex. When feelings of anger, frustration or hurt occur, call someone who is safe and trustworthy as well as nonjudgmental and “get it out”. Allow them to help you to calm down so that when you do speak with your ex, you are less reactive. Stick to the issue at hand rather than becoming emotional. Keep in mind that there is a reason that you are divorced and it usually involves no longer being able to negotiate differences.

The relationship must contain some healthy and respectful distance and boundaries. You are no longer spouses. If you have children, you are now “coparents”. Even if you do not have children, it is actually better for your mental health not to hold on to anger or to identify as a “victim”.The sadness of the loss must be accepted and grieved.


An example of a cognitive distortion usually involves any statement that you say to yourself in absolutes like:

I am a total failure.

I have no ability to select a good partner for myself.

I will never be able to have a healthy relationship.

It is all my/his/her fault.

I will be alone forever.

People will blame me for the divorce.

My children will not be able to survive this.

I will never get over my divorce.

If you can actually identify these ideas as faulty, you will be able to challenge them. This may be where your support system comes in. Sometimes it takes another person, a good friend or family member to remind you that there is still hope.


Maybe you always spent holidays with your in-laws. Maybe Valentine’s Day was very special between you and your spouse.

One woman began an “Orphan’s Thanksgiving” for friends who did not livenear their family, for those whose parents had passed and for anyone who was isolated for any reason. Another started a Valentine’s Day tradition where she invited all of her single girlfriends over, wined and dined them and gave them chocolates and flowers.

Begin new activities or hobbies. One woman always wanted to learn to salsa dancing but her husband was not interested, so now was her opportunity. A newly divorced man had always wanted to run a marathon but his wife felt that all of the training was too much time away and that it would be selfish. He was now free to do that. Traveling, learning a language,volunteering, remodeling your home are all things that can be beneficial to begining your new life. The bonus is that you end up meeting new people who like the same things that you do.

If you follow these guidelines, particularly if you are struggling with the after effects of a divorce, you too can be “happily divorced”.

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The White Sheep Syndrome | Family Therapy Sherman Oaks & San Fernando Valley

Sue comes from a frightening background. One which involves every sort of abuse imaginable. Surrounded by poverty, drugs and chaos, she was determined to make her life better and to escape her environment as soon as she possibly could. Her saving grace was her unusual and profound intelligence. She was always recognized by teachers and counselors as someone who would go far.

Go far, she did and thought that she had surpassed the effects of her humble beginnings except that it showed up in her relationships with her family and old friends. They were critical and challenged her constantly saying things like “I guess you think that now you are better than us”

She found herself loathe to admit her successes for fear of punishing comments. She would be self deprecating so as not to be intimidating.

She found that this limited her professionally as well as personally.

She was not satisfied with her current state and was highly ambitious but was afraid to reach her goals. She sought treatment to try to overcome the limitations that she felt that she was putting on herself both personally and professionally.

There are many Family Therapy Cases similar to this one. For example: the gang member who is traumatized that his mates could sexually assault a young girl.

He promptly quits the gang after trying and failing to save the girl and sits in his lonely room in the ghetto with police helicopters above him and gang wars just outside his house. He decides to study social work and completes a master’s degree in social work.

This results in him showing up in an auditorium before a houseful of professionals in full gang attire teaching about how to communicate with gang members.

The intellectual in an athletic family who gets little to no validation for his talents.

The adolescent who realizes he is gay in a homophobic environment.

The challenges for those afflicted with what I call “THE WHITE SHEEP SYNDROME” is this. Being a “White Sheep” is being the healthy member of an unhealthy family or community and the loneliness of both not being able to connect with those closest to you as well as the self doubt elicited by the lack of validation and role modeling.

Group support and modeling are very important to these people in order for them to become successful, fully. They need to find like minded people who can validate their struggles and mentors to inspire them. If we can identify these people before it is too late, we can help groom them into who they really are capable of being. So, if you have identified a “White Sheep” in your family or in your community, lend a helping hand so that they can realize their dreams and finally have the life that they deserve.