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What Do Coaches Do?

by Michael Tobriner

What Do Divorce Coaches Do?

Divorce coaches play a critical role in collaborative practice. Divorce coaches are licensed mental health professionals who are trained in collaborative practice. Each party has his or her own coach. The parties, with the attorneys, select suitable coaches, usually at the outset of the case. The divorce coach meets with his or her client to help the client through the divorce process. The coach, with the client’s permission, may also confer directly with the client’s attorney or with the entire collaborative team. (Attorneys and coaches together are called the “collaborative team”.) Coaches may meet with their client only once or twice or on a regular basis. Sometime coaches attend collaborative meetings along with parties and attorneys. The coach can assist the client in dealing with particularly difficult emotional issues arising in the collaborative process, suggest ways for a client to participate affirmatively in meetings, and help the client recognize and assert his or her self-interest. Coaches can help the team identify and address communications issues and similar problems that arise in collaborative meetings. Coaches do not provide psychotherapy. Their task is to facilitate the collaborative case.