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Divorce Mediation - A Psychoanalytic Perspective

NCJ Number
Mediation Quarterly Issue: 6 Dated: (December 1984) Pages: 59-63
H Yahm
Date Published
5 pages
The psychoanalytic approach involves understanding that early childhood experiences and relationships affect, shape, and often determine one's perceptions of, feelings about, and reactions to current events.
Understanding the tendency toward regression under stress offers important insights into what happens to people during divorce and provides meaningful directions for professionals who work with these people. A factor that strongly influences and often determines how negative the divorce experience will be is the kind of divorce process undertaken. The adversarial divorce, with its emphasis on authority dependence, power tactics, winning as much as possible, and defeating the opponent, exacerbates regressive tendencies. Several factors in the mediation process work to block, redirect, and often resolve the more destructive feelings and behaviors. Mediation blocks and discourages much of the regressive process by teaching and encouraging adult problemsolving and decisionmaking behavior, by allowing spouses a controlled amount of emotional ventilation about and toward each other, by leaving the negotiating process to the spouses themselves, by encouraging open disclosure to each other, by constantly reminding the couple that they are not getting divorced from their shared children and by focusing on the children's needs, and by consistently seeking win-win family solutions. A measure of awareness and understanding of the intrapsychic experience of divorcing individuals can enable mediators to help their clients reduce the pain, minimize destructive actions, maintain adult functioning, and begin the healing process.