Crisis Decisions: A Clinical Psychologist’s Perspective

Understanding how you personally make decisions can be essential when in the midst of life-changing events, like divorce. Today’s guest post by John M. Berecz, Ph.D., ABPP, a clinical psychologist, shows just how important advice and therapy are when it is time to make crisis decisions.

Stress and the Challenge of Making Crisis Decisions

When do you trust your gut?  Not when you’re in crisis.

When do you trust your brain? Not when you’re in crisis.

My point: whenever we’re under great stress we tend to regress to our tried-and-true ways of coping. Most of us have a favorite modality:  heart vs. head, gut vs. brain.  It reminds me of college: we Major in one area and Minor in others. I might be a biology major with a minor in chemistry or a math major with a minor in physics.  Both are important and necessary, but I have personal preferences.

Same thing with our heart-head balance. We tend to major in one and minor in the other. Crisis only intensifies the divide. The simple answer to when you should trust your gut is never trust your non-processed gut.  Similarly, never trust your non-processed thinking.

Psychotherapy Helps You Reach Your Own Balance

This is why it is so important to engage a highly skilled professional who can help you find your own way with balance.

If your marriage counselor gives you a lot of direct advice, find another counselor!  Good psychotherapy is not the same as advising. Advice is what lawyers give; advice is what financial planners give; it is not what psychotherapists should be doing.

The role of therapy is to help you find your own map as you travel through difficult times using both your heart and your head.

It’s all about balance, and it’s about your balance.

Crisis Decisions Take Time, and Help to Process

Now, as you face, perhaps the most difficult decisions of your life, you need to process your journey and use both hearts and heads in the process. So please give yourselves the time to process your journey with a professional who can assist you in what are some of the most difficult decisions you will ever make, decisions that profoundly influence your lives and your children’s.

If your therapist directly advises you what to do, find another therapist. This is your life and you are the only people entitled to make such profound, life changing decisions; and such decisions are best made when you are in touch with both your hearts and your heads.

Whether you move forward as married people, living in the same house and raising your children together, or separate and divorce, it will not be an easy adjustment. Whichever you choose, decisions this important are best made when carefully processed.

Advice givers—whether social workers, family, or friends—are usually well intentioned and hope to help, but their advice is not trustworthy. The only advisors you can trust are your own hearts and heads, when processed and coached with professional help.

John M. Berecz, Ph.D., ABPP, is a board certified clinical psychologist with the American Board of Professional Psychology and a former professor of psychology at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. He also happens to be the husband of collaborative divorce attorney Deborah Bennett Berecz.

Deborah helps clients find the tools they need to take the stress out of crisis decisions and find lasting resolutions using the best process for them. Berecz & Associates, PLC, has offices in St. Joseph and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Contact us to learn more or to schedule a consultation today.


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Disclaimer: The purpose of this site is to give you information about our practice and about areas of the law that may interest you. Everyone's situation is different, and nothing here should be treated as legal advice for your case. For your own legal advice, contact us.

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