Shrinks to Gosselins: Try Divorce Counseling

When reality-TV star Jon Gosselin said he was throwing in the towel without marriage counseling, his wife Kate and their 10.6 million television viewers were not the only ones aghast.

Psychologists suggested that the couple needed divorce counseling -- therapy not to save the train-wreck marriage, but to establish a better relationship going forward, as they continue to raise their eight children.

"There's a lot of sensationalism in these TV reality series and people throw out a lot of new techniques," said Jody Deluca, a clinical psychologist from Odessa, Fla. "But this couple really needs to renegotiate their relationship."

VIDEO: How Jon and Kate told the kids

"Because of the children, they have to start from scratch with new rules to abide by, whether it's remarriage or divorce."

Kate Gosselin has said to People magazine that it was her husband of 10 years who asked for the divorce. The show, which is in its fifth season, has been a "portrait of an American family crumbling," People deputy managing editor Peter Castro told ABC.

Divorce Counseling Is New Concept

Divorce counseling or therapy is a relatively new concept in the mental health field. With one in two marriages ending in divorce, counseling through the "hostility and anger" is critical, Deluca said.

"You are talking about emotional chaos," she told

In the past, many couples have weathered that storm without help.

Matthew Bailey of Medina, Ohio, divorced his wife after he discovered she had cheated on him with someone from work.

"I tried counseling once but then decided to suck it up and not be one of those guys who takes a woman back after that," he said. "After almost a year, I haven't needed any counseling on my own.

"All you have to do is stop being angry and you don't need therapy," he said. "Life is what you make of it. Suck it up."

But psychologists say divorce counseling helps couples strengthen their communications and negotiation skills.

And when there are children involved, the process also helps them accept the end of the marriage, avoiding self-blame, guilt and anger.

Divorce Counseling Sets Rules

Divorce counseling can include issues related to alcohol and drugs, sleep, eating habits, hygiene and grooming, decision making, job performance and financial management.

Most often, Deluca helps couple reinvigorate and repair their marriages, but when divorce is inevitable, she helps them set down "rules of engagement."

"Many times there has been a breakdown in communication," she said. "They must be on the same team until the divorce is final, especially if there are children involved."

As in marital therapy, counselors work on behavior-management techniques. Deluca begins by having the couple write down the pros and cons of their marriage and reading them aloud.

"I have them agree to disagree," Deluca said. "We come up with rules for arguing. He says, 'Under no circumstances will you call me a wimp.' She says, 'It's not acceptable to come home after 9 p.m."

Couples must adhere to no naming-calling and "time-outs" when arguments get explosive.

Don't Let Kids Be in the Battlefield

"Whoever is more emotionally in control leaves the war field," she said. "Some couples give a signal that's unique to the couple: 'It's getting out of hand, we are in the middle of a war.' Someone has to be in control enough to walk away."

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