Marriages are the most important voluntary adult relationship most humans enter into, yet in Australia around 1 in 3 marriages end in divorce, upward of 46 thousand per year (McCrindle 2015, ABS Marriages and Divorces, 2014). And for those that seek successful marriage and a fulfilling family life to raise healthy and happy children – seen as the bedrock of successful societies – the statistics reveal that upward of 40 thousand children per annum under the age of 18 (or 1.8 children per divorce), will be effected by divorce (McCrindle 2015, ABS Marriages and Divorces, 2014). Additionally the statistics on fidelity, abuse and marital happiness show that many intact marriages are based on unhealthy relationships (Previti and Amato 2004). The fallout of family breakdown and the protection and custody of children is a significant challenge for our society.
Divorce has become increasing common and many dispute resolution practitioners (such as lawyers, mediators, psychologists, counsellors, family therapists, child and relationship specialists, communication specialists and coaches) become involved with couples who are, or are considering, separation or divorce. As many of these human disputes deal with emotive issues surrounding family breakdown and the protection and custody of children, a shift from the traditional positional bargaining approach is required, with the goal of achieving real and sustainable solutions and perhaps where behavioural transformation or where an enduring settlement is required.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can play a significant role for clients who seek relief to a great extent, of much of the emotion, delays and cost that is central to the traditional approach that is focused on rights, litigation and at times, combat.
Dealing with disputes including emotive issues is not new and major conceptual and clinical trends can be traced back over the last hundred years. From psychoanalytical experimentation, through to family therapy and educational-preventative models, ACT is a third-wave behaviour therapy rooted in the philosophical tradition of functional contextualism (Hayes, S. C., Follette, V. M., & Linehan, M. 2004) and based on Relational Frame Theory (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche,. 2001) is rooted in philosophical pragmatism and context and focuses on predicting and influencing psychological events (including thoughts, feelings, and behaviours). ACT is one of a number of new acceptance and mindfulness-oriented cognitive and behavioural therapies, such as Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (Linehan, M. 1993) or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (Segal, et al, 2001).
Do you need help with an issue or problem? Our approach helps to generate deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their situation and relationship. These conversations can restore insight and understanding and work for going forward for all concerned including children.