Cooperative Resolution vs Traditional Problem Solving

The transition from marriage to divorce is for many one of the most significant undertaken. For some it can be a festering wound that takes decades to overcome; for others there is a shorter period of acute pain and disorientation. For the fortunate few the transition is made in a partnership of sorts with the divorcing spouse – a partnership that has as its focus kindness, cooperation and a mutual desire to help not only oneself but the other through the transition to a new and previously unseen relationship between the parties; unforeseen in that they did not expect to be single again and new because the territory is uncharted.

If the couple has a bent toward cooperation and mutuality in the divorce process, or even if they do not, caring and cooperative Tucson divorce attorneys or Tucson divorce mediators might consider taking heed. If one puts any stock in the admonition “do no harm”, the framework and thought brought to the divorce negotiations leading to a Tucson divorce are one of the keys to the clients’ long term well being.

However well meaning the practitioners, use of the traditional problem solving approach in the attempt to reach resolution is fraught with potentially dangerous alleyways into blame, right and wrong and even shame for the divorcing parties. Traditional problem solving tends to focus on what went wrong and what is not working, and it can amplify problems and lead to unnecessary conflict. Often, in such an atmosphere one can feel blamed, victimized or unworthy. Here, the likelihood is low in providing clients with a firm footing for long term well being in the divorce transition.

Ideally, the divorce lawyer or divorce mediator wants clients to feel good about what they have done and what they are doing. To elicit such positive responses from clients will require asking positive questions rather than questions that focus on right and wrong or some such approach. Skillfully asked questions whose underlying message is “how can we make this better and how can we make it work well” garners good will.

If the divorce attorney or divorce mediator will focus on the positive aspects of the client’s history, for example, it can turn the emotional tenor of the discussions into an uplifting rather than a depleting experience. All divorcing parties have positive aspects of their history; things that worked well and went right for them. When working with divorcing spouses in the mediation or collaborative divorce framework, asking the couple to focus on ways they communicated positively and highlighting these is useful. How did the couple undertake a task together where there was a positive outcome? Have them describe this. What occurred? What did it feel like and what did it look?

If specific principles around this positive process can be elicited from the couple, these principles can be used as a model for moving forward. Where clients are encouraged to talk about the best of their relationship, they may be able to create a strong working model for moving forward in ways that worked for them in the past. When this happens emotional healing quickens, and the past can be seen as a gift of learning rather than an experience of failure.

A powerful means to reinforce the adage “do no harm” is to (provide) positive reinforcement to clients (and all others, including self). There is no defense against such support.

© Copyright - Peter D Axelrod