Role of the Mental Health Professional
The Mental Health Professional in the collaborative process often takes on the role of the Collaborative Coach. The table below describes the role of the collaborative coach and how that differs from a psychotherapist.
||Collaboratively Trained and has knowledge in a variety of areas related to divorce. I.e., family systems theory, post-divorce parenting, alternative dispute resolution methods, communications.
||Broad choice of training and approaches that may or may not include divorce oriented body of knowledge, family systems theory and not necessarily collaboratively trained.
||Is a member of a collaborative team. While the coach is a support to the client, the coach also has responsi–bility to the best outcome for the whole family. The coach may meet with clients individually, with members of the team, and participate in 4-way and 6-way meetings.
||The therapist’s contractual agreement is with the client only. They are not part of a collaborative team and do not participate in collaborative meetings. The coach may have contact with the therapist with the signed consent of the client. A client’s therapist may never function as a client’s coach in the collaborative process.
||Is proactive; provides targeted interventions.
||May or may not be proactive or use targeted interventions.
||Focuses on keeping the CL process on-track by assisting clients with enhanced or new communication skills, conflict resolution and, if minor children, co-parenting skills.
||Focuses on assisting the client to grow and develop enhanced abilities to travel life’s journey, develop solutions for life’s challenges.
||Specifically assist the client to identify and prioritize needs and interests related to the divorce, develop and enhance communication skills, identify and develop strategies for managing . Help develop post-decree parenting plans.
||Assist the client to identify and address emotional and psychological issues and set goals and processes to meet those priorities. If divorce issues are present in therapy, they are dealt with in the context of a client’s whole life and not necessarily related to the legal process of getting divorced.
||By contract, the coach’s work with clients is limited to work with the clients during the CL process. The collaborative contract may include post-divorce coaching responsibilities such as alternative dispute resolution, and assistance with post-divorce needs, but then may no longer function as a collaborative coach with these clients.
||Work with the client may be long-term or short-term but is not dependent upon the client’s involvement on a CL case. Cannot perform in dual roles.
||Must have a contract with the client which includes a Disqualification Requirement (DR) requiring the coach to withdraw if the case moves to litigation, unless both clients contractually agree to keep the coach on board.
||Work is likely to be open-ended and not limited by contract.
||Cannot be called to testify if the case ends up in litigation
||Can be forced to testify if the case ends up in litigation