Counseling for Separation & Divorce

Separation and divorce is one of the most profoundly stressful life events a person can go through. It can be devastating to lose a marriage and break up a family - it impacts every part of your life and everyone that you love - children, parents, extended family, in-laws, friends and neighbors. Whether you wanted the divorce or not, the experience is life changing, and adjusting to those changes is difficult.  


People feel a variety of emotions going through a separation or divorce - fear, anger, sorrow, loss, failure, shame, and financial and emotional insecurity. For many, the loss of their primary relationship is the most painful part, even when they may not have been fully satisfied with their marriage.


Because the loss is not just about what you had, but what you dreamed of for the future - raising children together, creating the life you imagined together, growing old together. The sadness and grief can feel like a tidal wave.


And dealing with lawyers, mediators, and family court can be overwhelming and surreal. There is a terrible sense of losing control over your own life and the lives of your children. There are so many decisions to make, so much paperwork to figure out, and so much uncertainty every step of the way. And no one has all the answers.


Separation and divorce not only leave us feeling anxious and alone, but lead us into an uncertain future - what will our life look like after divorce. Our quality of life, our time with children, our sense of self, our financial well-being. How do I help my children? Will I ever find someone? How do I not make the same mistakes? And on and on.


As an experienced psychologist I have walked alongside many women and men going through separation and divorce. I can be a source of comfort to you in the midst of the storm, to help you navigate and process your feelings, to sort out how to deal with the legal process, to move through the grief and loss and sorrow, to rebuild your self-esteem and confidence, to provide you a safe place to slow down and breathe and have someone to lean on.


And I can help you with the post-separation and post-divorce relationship issues and decisions, how to communicate with your ex without making things worse, how to help your children adjust. To help you make choices that you can feel good about. To help you heal and move forward into the next chapter of your life, with a positive attitude and hopeful anticipation for the new life you will create for yourself.

Woman with hands crossed focusing on her wedding ring

"I was a patient several years ago at a time of my life that I had no way to control several circumstances I was navigating. The attention and support I received helped me to focus on what I still had control of, myself.  The Doc (as I coined Alan Zwerdling), was supportive, accommodating when I needed to change our schedule, and did so much to teach me how to use tools I never realized I had and provide me with new ones."


 "Dr. Zwerdling’s gentle and compassionate presence gave me the courage to go within to heal the pain and face the beliefs I held about myself that were unloving. His insight and ability to guide me in seeing my inner being as one deserving of self-love, as a woman with deep resilience and strength, gave me the ability to release the emotional suffering to create internal freedom to be at peace with my experiences and to find joy in myself and in my life again." 


" I met Dr. Z when I was going through what seemed to be a typical divorce. Things got very ugly and very emotional. I was a complete mess. As the typical “Type A personality MAN”, you wouldn’t think therapy would have been an option... He offered insight that would make me think for days on end... he’d say things in such a way that not only made me think but helped me feel. He helped me through my darkest days and I am eternally grateful. He helped me learn to trust again and to be able to love."

Coping with Separation and Divorce

Young girls sits with head on arms as parents argue in backround

Try to welcome your emotions, even if they are painful. It’s normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, anxious, ashamed and confused. There may be many emotional ups and down. Try journaling to give your feelings safe expression. Talk to trusted friends and family - let them be a source of support for a little while. It will take time to start to feel better, and the more you can be with and accept your feelings, the faster you will move through them and heal.


Be gentle with yourself. Adjusting to such major changes takes time and energy. Don't beat yourself up over past mistakes. You may find yourself distracted and less efficient. Your mind may wander. You may be less patient and more irritable. So slow down. Don't expect so much of yourself right now. Give yourself permission to be exactly how you are at this moment. Things will get better.


Don't go through this alone. Consider joining a support group where you can talk to others going through separation or divorce. Talking to someone who knows how it feels can be very validating and reassuring. Making some new friends who are newly single can provide you with needed companionship and social outlets where you don't feel like a fifth wheel.

 

Take care of yourself. Be good to yourself and to your body. Take time out to exercise, eat well and relax. Join a yoga class. Keep to your normal routines as much as possible, and avoid making major decisions or changes in life plans. Try not to rely on alcohol or drugs as a way to cope. Consider therapy or counseling for support.


Take time to explore your interests or volunteer. Reconnect with things you enjoy that you may have given up for a while. Take a class for fun - painting, ceramics, cooking, theater. Consider volunteering some time to help others - this is a very powerful way to regain your confidence and remember what you have to be grateful for.


Create new family traditions. Doing things a little differently when celebrating your family events helps to minimize the feelings of loss. If you won't have your children with you on a holiday, try to make plans or start a project to give yourself focus.


Helping your children. Talk to your children and spend time with them. Listen to their feelings and concerns and validate them - let them know that however they feel is okay. Be someone they can turn to to share their emotions and not feel pressured to feel better. Keep their routines as normal as possible. Keep them out of the conflict and be supportive of their relationship with your ex. Love them and be good to them, but help them feel secure by maintaining healthy limits and boundaries..

"While my husband and I were going through a divorce last year we sought the help of Dr. Zwerdling. He was extremely professional, unbiased, and supportive. He listened intently to both my husband and I and helped us find and execute better ways to communicate with each other. Without Dr. Zwerdling's counseling I would find it hard to believe that my ex and I would be in as good of a relationship as we are now."  


"My husband and I were going through a divorce and having great trouble communicating with one another . Having small children and resolving our matters civilly and amicably were of utmost importance to us. Dr. Zwerdling helped us achieve this throughout many sessions with him. He listened to both of us and, was patient, and non-threatening. My ex and I would not be in such a good place right now if it wasn't for the help of Dr. Zwerdling." 

Dr. Alan Zwerdling's private office serves all of Monmouth County & the Jersey Shore, including Red Bank, Middletown, Shrewsbury, Rumson, Navesink, Fair Haven, Little Silver, Holmdel, Colts Neck, Ocean Township, Lincroft, Marlboro, Manalapan, Oceanport, Monmouth Beach, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Manasquan, Oakhurst, Eatontown, Tinton Falls, and West Long Branch.