Abuse and Divorce – What Role Will
Your Psychologist Serve in Your Divorce?

Dr. King


by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

You think your psychologist will help you in your family court abuse and divorce case, and your attorney expects your psychologist to help him/her. Unfortunately, your psychologist and your attorney do not share the same perspective on what that “help” looks like. Sound familiar?

I have seen countless cases in which clients are told by their attorneys that their therapist is essentially in place to be their representative before the court. And immediately this changes the dynamics of the so-called therapeutic relationship.

Witness Versus Therapist

You think to yourself, this is a great idea to have my therapist act as my witness in my divorce and custody matter. You believe that this person knows you, cares about you and will have your best interest at heart.

You trust that this person will not “hurt” you. You know that they are aware of your circumstances and care about your plight. What you may not be aware of is that from this very moment on, that person is no longer your therapist. Instead, they become the witness you seek to groom.

Your focus is no longer on your healing and growth. You are far too preoccupied with impressing your “therapist” to see you and know you to be as you believe the court must see you in order to get that which you want. It’s human nature.

Therapy is not about impressing another person. It’s about unveiling the false impressions and beliefs you have about yourself. It’s about transformation and change, not about judging and defending.

Psychotherapy Versus Psychological Evaluation

If you truly wish to heal in psychotherapy, be realistic with yourself about this important distinction between psychologist as witness versus psychologist as therapist. Even if it requires that you have one person act as your court representative with respect to your mental health and another act as your treating therapist.

Now, do understand that your treating therapist could be sought after by your opposition and/or the court in your divorce case, but that doesn’t mean they will be forced to testify. You have a confidential relationship with this therapist and your communication is privileged. It would have to be determined that this person holds information relevant to your court case.

But if another equally qualified professional has the same type of information concerning you through, for example, a psychological evaluation, then you are in a better position to maintain the integrity of your psychotherapeutic alliance with you treating therapist.

Being Divorce Litigant Versus Being Psychotherapy Patient

Alternatively, you may not have the finances in place to employ two separate mental health professionals. You may need to make a decision: are you going to be the divorce litigant or the psychotherapy patient?

Sometimes, life circumstances make that decision for you and you realize that you must bring closure to one situation before you can move on in a genuine fashion with another. So you decide to utilize psychological services for “support” only during your divorce. You put yourself on a “get to the other side” mode and hold your deeper psychological work until you have reached closure in your divorce.

There are many ways in which you can proceed along this path of maintaining your well-being and your rights as a divorce litigant and parent. Most importantly, be clear with yourself about what you are doing and why you are doing it when you utilize therapists during your divorce proceedings.

For more information about abuse and divorce , visit www.preventabusiverelationships.com/legal_domestic_abuse.php and claim your Free Instant Access to Survivor Success eInsights. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people nationwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse. © Jeanne King, Ph.D. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention


Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.