Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What's the Role of the MHP in a Collaborative Divorce?

Most people think of therapists as "shrinks".  They do psychotherapy or psychological evaluations. 

In Texas Collaborative Law cases, we generally use a neutral therapist or mental health professional (MHP) to work with both parties.  The MHP does not do therapy for either party.  Instead, we rely on him/her to help in many other ways.

Here is a list of some of the ways MHPs help in Collaborative cases.

1.  Manage meetings as a neutral.

2.  Help the parties stay on their best behavior.

3.  Help the parties learn how to communicate better with each other.

4.  Enhance the listening skills for everyone.

5.  Make sure everyone is heard at joint meetings.

6.  Help the attorneys realize when a party is having a difficult session.

7.  Help the parties create a parenting plan.

8.  Add another perspective for the attorneys as the case progresses.

9.  Help the parties work on and refine their goals for the process.

10. Answer parenting questions and help parents decide how to talk with their children.

As you can see, the MHP has a major role in Collaborative cases.  As an attorney who worked in Collaborative Law before therapists were brought into the process, I would emphatically state that MHPs are essential to the success of the process.  We can get better results, with less stress and in a shorter time, when we involve a therapist from the beginning.  I always insist on that!