by Dr. Carol Hughes, Ph.D., LMFT
Clients often wonder how working with a team of professionals will benefit them when moving forward with the Collaborative Process for their divorce. Even experienced practitioners sometimes fail to understand how all professionals on an interdisciplinary team can assist and support clients, even high-conflict clients, to become “Agreement Ready.”
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Dr. Carol Hughes, family law lawyer Diana L. Martinez, and financial specialist Cathleen Collinsworth offer recent findings from neuroscience showing how working in teams can assist clients resolve even their most difficult conflicts at the upcoming Collaborative Practice California (CP Cal) “Celebration XI” Conference in Redwood City, California April 29 – May 1.
Dr. Hughes says the training is designed for all practitioners who want to continue evolving their ability to assist clients with the powerful tools provided through the Collaborative Process. Participants will learn techniques for assisting clients:
- Identify and develop the clients’ ‘Key Elements of Agreement’ that avoid being too specific or too vague and therefore of no value.
- Identify and develop the clients’ ‘Questions To Be Answered’ relative to their ‘Key Elements of Agreement.’
- Develop ‘Options for Resolution’ that are both individually and family-centric interest based.
- Evaluate their ‘Options for Resolution’ and co-create their Agreements.
- Develop the necessary skills to support their interdisciplinary professional team members in the Agreement Readiness process.
From the inception of a case, interdisciplinary teams of lawyers, neutral financial specialists, divorce coaches and neutral child specialists can employ tools and techniques to shift clients toward Agreement Readiness. By doing so, a team can save client costs and facilitate better outcomes through more durable divorce agreements for the entire family involved.
“Our goal in the end is to educate our prospective clients that the goal of the Collaborative Process is reaching a final agreement each party can ‘live with,’ one that provides clarity and substantive closure for each of them,” said Dr. Hughes. “The agreement must also reflect their values and goals, no one else’s including the professional team’s goals.”
Dr. Hughes said it is important for each Collaborative team member to develop the necessary skills to support their clients. But what is often forgotten is the importance of learning how to develop similar skills to provide support among the professional team members as they work together to move the Collaborative Divorce case through the Agreement Readiness process.
“Just as it is critically important for the team members to work together to support their clients, we need to work together to support each other and allow the unique value that each professional from the three disciplines brings to their Collaborative Divorce team to flourish,” said Dr. Hughes. “This helps us educate clients about the pivotal role of each member in facilitating cost effective outcomes and durable agreements.”