Counseling That Works – The Christian Counseling-Mediation Connection

Laura was involved in a traffic accident and suffered long-term spinal damage. For years, she deadened her painful symptoms with a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. After her first auto accident under the influence of alcohol, Laura admitted to her husband, Bob, a successful real estate executive, that she was addicted to drugs and alcohol. For eight years, Laura was in and out of residential treatment, in recovery for a brief time and then relapsing. After her third accident and conviction for driving under the influence, she was told by a Superior Court Judge in no uncertain terms that she had only two alternatives: long-term residential treatment with the permanent surrender of her driver’s license, or jail. Bob had supported her rehabilitation efforts for years but was becoming desperate. Their family old_resources were drained, and he feared that his business would fail if his funds and attention continued to be diverted. Fortunately, when Bob gave voice to his concern that divorce was the only alternative, the couples Christian counselor referred them to dispute Resolution Center for legal and financial intervention.

Mediation and Healing: Many counselors who specialize in addiction recovery recommend that a couple separate for an extended period of time as part of the healing process. In their experience, a separation of between 6 and 18 months may facilitate personal therapy for addiction or codependency issues. However, there are significant problems with an informal, extended separation: If the addicted spouse becomes involved in an accident, the couples entire finances are at risk; If one spouse reacts by spending inappropriately, creditors may reach both of their assets; Children are unprotected, lacking legally enforceable provision for child custody, visitation, and support; Parents are similarly unprotected, lacking certainty about their financial situation and support or access to their children. Mediation provides an opportunity to address these legal issues. Moreover, the mediation process provides a significant intervention for chemically dependent and codependent families.

Mediation Process: At Dispute Resolution Center, mediation draws its inspiration from Matthew 5:25-26 and 1 Corinthians 6:1-7, in which believers are instructed to resolve disputes peacefully and quickly, without resorting to courts of law. Mediation is a voluntary method of resolving disputes where the parties, not the legal system, control the process and the outcome. The parties are assisted by trained attorneys and therapists, working together in a mediation team. In family law matters, the mediation team leads a couple through: setting their own agendas; gathering information; making a decision as to informal separation, formal legal separation, or divorce; and/or reducing the couples agreement to a comprehensive settlement agreement which is enforceable by the legal system as a court judgment and which is binding on the couple and their creditors.

The Counseling/ mediation Connection: Mediation is a powerful intervention for addicted/codependent families. The process of setting agendas, gathering information about family old_resources, realistically budgeting for separate households, and dividing assets and income among family members is an incredible reality check. Idealized notions of living free must confront the legal and economic realities of separation or divorce, without the high conflict and stress existing in the adversarial legal system. Mediation is not a replacement for Christian counseling. The focus of mediation is not to heal, but to empower the participants to make legal and financial decisions which will enable them to heal. After 6 to 18 hours with their mediators, the participants return to their individual or joint counselors to begin or continue the work of healing.

In mediation, Laura and Bob realized that they had more options than simply divorcing one another. Free from worry about his economic future and free from shame about his own codependency, Bob found that he could provide reasonable and appropriate financial and emotional support for Laura’s treatment and recovery. As for Laura, the most quietly powerful moment we ever experienced as mediators occurred when Laura looked at the property division, financial budget, and emotional support plan she had helped to prepare and began to cry. It was the first time in her married life that she had prepared a budget with her husband. Laura recognized that she and Bob had no old_resources left to save her from extended jail time. There were no further options or alternatives to sobriety. At the conclusion of the mediation, Bob stated that mediating sitting together and addressing legal, financial, and emotional support issues was the hardest thing that he had ever done. However, he believes that mediation was the only way he and Laura could confront these issues and truly begin the healing process.

When Mediation is Appropriate: Mediation is appropriate whenever a couple is considering separation or divorce, or when divorced persons have disputes over continuing support or child custody obligations. Mediation also can be a very positive addition to premarital counseling, especially in the blended family context as a prospective married couple makes decisions about co-pare noting or financial issues. At Dispute Resolution Center, all mediation is conducted by Christian co-mediators who are discipline balanced and gender balanced. Attorney mediators may not understand Important emotional and family system issues as they press forward toward resolution. Therapist mediators alone may not have the depth of experience in family law, property, finance, and taxation necessary to resolve the extremely sophisticated legal issues surrounding separation and divorce. However, Dispute Resolution Centers co-mediation model provides balance between both of these disciplines and, because of its gender- balanced approach, also protects against alignment issues and transference issues which can arise in single mediation.

Conclusion: Laura and Bob are now actively working toward healing with their respective Christian counselors. Laura fully understands the reality of her situation and is motivated to change. Bob has received peace and certainty about their financial future; his optimism and commitment to the healing process have been renewed. Their mediated legal separation provides for living apart for a time with adequate support, based on realistic budgets. The couple also committed themselves to honoring their marriage vows, to individual and joint treatment plans, and to a plan for rediscovering one another while they are separated. Find a therapist to get solution of your problems.

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