Have you ever wanted to just tell off your spouse or someone else who made you angry? You may have done it from time to time, or you may have kept your feelings bottled up like many people do. Sometimes that's a good thing to do, but most often it's not handled very well and the problems escalate.
If you don't get to express yourself and address your concerns, the situation may just continue while your stress level rises.
One of the great benefits of Collaborative Law is the opportunity to learn skills to communicate better and to do so in a safe, controlled atmosphere. Instead of just reacting and blurting out your feelings, you learn how to express yourself in a way that will be heard and respected.
Here's what we do in Collaborative cases.
- Attorneys meet and talk with their clients before and after joint meetings. They can even pause a joint meeting and meet privately when a difficult issue comes up. Attorneys can help their clients respond to the situation in a constructive way. As much as possible, sensitive topics are planned for.
- Attorneys also meet with the other attorney and other professionals before and after joint meetings. They can also take a time out and meet briefly during a joint meeting so they can coordinate how to deal safely with a difficult issue.
- The neutral mental health professional (MHP) we normally use in Collaborative Law cases in North Texas works with the parties as needed on their communication skills. The MHP also manages each joint meeting and pays close attention to the body language and mood of each of the participants. I have had several meetings stopped by the MHP so immediate concerns about what was happening could be addressed.
- There's an emphasis on both parties learning to listen better and use language more carefully. Learning to listen before speaking is very helpful. Also, everyone benefits from learning to choose one's words and thinking about what is being said and how it affects others.
- Focus on the future. We encourage the parties to not re-hash the past. We don't need to get into assigning blame or pointing out fault for past problems. Instead , we help the parties learn to be constructive in planning for the future.