“Coaching” is a fast growing field of practice in family dispute resolution. Families may seek coaching together (i.e., neutral coaching) or separately (i.e., individual coaching). Coaching is a process of facilitation and empowerment. Coaching is a broad category of professional services. Some common elements of coaching include using techniques and strategies to focus on assisting individuals optimize their own understanding, coping, agency and/or capacity. Some techniques include accurate informational acquisition, positive goal setting, motivation and empowerment, and helping people be accountable to themselves. Coaching is expert-based, and many coaches also have interest-based training (such as mediation and/or collaborative practice training). In the separation/divorce context, coaching covers a range of topics including parenting, financial, property and emotional issues.
“Consulting”is an area of high expertise which may be applied to benefit both separating/divorcing families and the family dispute resolution process. “Early Neutral Consultation” is an intake process to help separating couples stay out-of-court and is based on neutral information, guidance and family advocacy.
Coaching and Consulting may be undertaken by a range of professional experts including parenting experts (e.g., counsellors, social workers), financial experts, and legal experts.
Family counsellors and social workers who help parents who want to know how to inform their children about the separation, and to gain a better understanding of how children of different ages react to separation and divorce so that they can help them through the separation process. Parenting coaches assist parents who wish to help children cope with separation and divorce, to learn how to co-parent well, and to ensure children receive good quality and consistent parenting in both households. Parenting coaches may assist one or both parents, often work as neutral professionals together with both parents, and often work in the out-of-court context.
Family Counsellors and social workers who help separating couples restructure communication, work co-operatively in a co-parenting relationship and ensure that prolonged conflict does not negatively impact each other or their children. Divorce coaches assist couples cope with different emotions and stages of grief at the time of separation and divorce. Divorce coaches may assist one or both spouses, often work as neutral professionals together with both spouses, and often work in the out-of-court context.
Parenting and divorce coaching are often complimentary processes.
Financial professionals who help separating couples communicate about property and finances, and help couples arrive at decisions about their property and finances. Financial coaches may work closely with lawyers to assist couples organize and understand financial disclosure in the separation/divorce context. Experienced financial coaches may also work closely with parenting and divorce coaches, to assist couples cope with different emotions and stages of grief at the time of separation and divorce. Financial coaches may assist one or both parents/spouses, often work as neutral professionals together with both parents/spouses, and often work in the out-of-court context.
Many coaches and consultants are also trained mediators and/or collaborative professionals with experience in mediating parenting plans for children, or property and financial plans for separating/divorcing couples.
Family Professionals working as consultants and coaches may wear different professional hats at different times, and in different contexts, to help separating/divorcing families. For instance, family counsellors and social workers who work as coaches, many also work as therapists and/or assessors. Similarly, financial experts who work as financial coaches may also work as financial advisors, financial divorce specialists, accountants, or certified business valuators.
The message here is that the different jobs we do as family dispute resolution professionals is not mutually exclusive from other jobs we do, nor from the jobs of our professional colleagues. FDRIO is a ground-breaking organization which provides connections for the concentric work we do as family dispute resolution professionals, and opening up new opportunities for professional training, standards and continuing education.