In this latest installment of the series, we take a look at the role of mental health and communications professions. The mental health and communications professionals are not necessarily a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Often, they are social workers who are trained in the area of mental health, communications, conflict resolution, and crisis management. Sometimes professionally trained mediators may also undertake this role.
The purposes of having a mental health and communications professional on board is to facilitate the settlement discussion and to maintain a leveled field.
No doubt, divorce and separation is stressful, if not traumatic, for most. Clients are often emotionally charged and many take offence on seemingly minor issues.
Usually, the professional involved would meet with the clients individually first to discuss where things are at and how they would like to approach the legal issues. After the initial assessment, the professional may invite the clients to attend a meeting together. The meetings are not meant to be therapeutic. The professional is to gather information and build trust with the clients.
Once there is certain degree of trust among the clients and the professional, the professional would help the clients manage their emotion and encourage co-operation between the clients.
In high conflict cases, the professional is often invited to the face-to-face collaborative meetings. Many clients find that the presence of a neutral professional at the table reassuring. If things get rough (for example, if someone starts to have a fit at the meeting), the professional will be able to calm everyone down and lead the clients back to settlement discussions without compromising the integrity of the process. Because the professionals are not partisan, their words often carry greater weight than those spoken by the lawyers, who must advocate for their own clients.
This blog is provided for educational purposes and for your reference. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be regarded as such. The law may have changed since the publication of this article.