Graduate Research Papers

Divorce : supporting children and adolescents

Shannon Griffiths, University of Northern Iowa

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Divorce impacts millions of families each year. The experience of a divorce is a process rather than a single event. Children and adolescents experience the divorce process differently. Children often go through five grieving stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Divorce can be devastating to adolescents because they have a broader sense of reality and the world as it applies to their life. Older children are often seen as capable of handing the divorce process and asked to make difficult decisions regarding custody. All children and adolescents who experience their parent's divorce should try counseling. The children and adolescents who appear resilient or unaffected by the divorce are especially concerning. They may be handling their feelings secretly or in unhealthy ways. Some counseling techniques that can be beneficial for helping children and adolescents experiencing divorce are: bibliotherapy, family therapy, narrative therapy, play therapy, and art therapy.