Articles by Jacqueline McDiarmid, Break ups, Children, Communication, Conflict, Couple's counselling, Family counselling, Post Separation, Relationships, Uncategorized, Work

How Post-Separation Counselling Can Help you Separate well if you have Kids

Sometimes during couples counselling, the couple decide to separate.  If the couple have children, they commonly ask the Couples Counsellor about ongoing counselling to help them separate well.  This is called Post-Separation Counselling.  It is different to mediation which is a dispute-resolution process for when the parties can’t agree on things like access to children, finance and so on.

Fortunately, a lot of parents realise that it is in the children’s best interests to separate well and reduce the stress and turmoil of an already very challenging situation.

How does Post-Separation Counselling help the couple and family?  Here are just a few areas a Couples Counsellor (with skills in this area) is likely to cover:

  1. The Couples Counsellor can help the couple work out how they would like to parent their children together – in separate homes.
  2. The Couples Counsellor can help the separating couple have the difficult conversations about access to children and what that looks like.
  3. The Couples Counsellor can guide the separating couple on how to make the moving between separate homes easier for their children.
  4. The Couples Counsellor can help the separating couple establish ground rules when it comes to ongoing communication between them.  That’s easier said than done if there is underlying resentment – and there often is.
  5. The Couples Counsellor will help the separating couple work out a step-by-step process for managing the the transition of physically moving out of the family home.
  6. The Couples Counsellor will help the separating couple agree on what to tell their children about the breakup, how this should be done and how to manage the children’s responses.  This is crucial if you want to minimize the emotional stress and anxiety this transition can bring to children.
  7. The Couples Counsellor can help parents to be on the same parenting page moving forward.  Different parenting styles or different ‘rules’ in different homes are a huge factor in ongoing post-separation conflict.  And it’s definitely not good for the children.
  8. The Couples Counsellor can help with ground rules and advice when it comes to introducing new partners.

If relationships are difficult or strained between parents and children, a family counsellor can help to repair those relationships going forward.  And importantly help when new partners are introduced.

I am both a Couples Therapist and a Family Therapist and do a lot of work with separated, blended and step-families – and do you know what I hear the most from people?  “I really wish we had had sessions with someone like you right when we separated.  And the kids wish this also because by the time I work with a separated family, many kids are tired of being pulled in different directions by their parents or being caught in the crossfire of parental conflict.

So if you are a couple who is about to separate – do yourselves and your family a really big favour – avoid the Family Court and the trauma and resentment this brings.  Instead, seek an experienced and highly qualified Couples Counsellor or Family Therapist to help sort out how to move forward as a family that is not intact but still a family.

About Jacqueline

Jacqueline has been in private practice for more than two decades, helping individuals, couples and families.  She has extensive experience in couple and family therapy and is considered a specialist in these areas.

In her clinical practice, she has helped people deal with complex trauma, affairs, complex mental health issues, eating disorders, adolescent behavioural problems (including self-harm and suicidal ideation), behavioural issues in young children which are impacting parents and families, relationship issues and post-separation work.

Jacqueline works with many different dynamics: couples, parents, families with young children, same-sex couples, foster/adopted families, families with teenagers and also adult families.  She is particularly interested in helping parents of children with behavioural issues, or with diagnosed conditions such as anxiety, ADHD, ASD and so on.

Although Jacqueline’s work is supportive and friendly, she will challenge her couples and families to make the necessary behavioural changes, to repair relationships and to move towards healthier communication styles in the future.

Jacqueline’s style is direct and fast paced and she is known for quickly getting to the heart of the matter.  Clients report that they feel safe and understood with Jacqueline.

Qualifications and Professional Membership

Jacqueline has a Masters in Couple and Family Therapy (UNSW). She has a Bachelor degree in Counselling and Human Change, and a Diploma in Psychotherapy and Counselling.

Jacqueline is a Clinical Supervisor for Counsellors and Therapists. She lectures in couple and family therapy at Masters and Post Graduate level, and is currently Head Lecturer for the Couple and Family Therapy course (Masters) at the Jansen Newman Institute.  She has been a Lecturer at the University of Western Sydney and Sydney University, and continues to guest lecture at other tertiary institutions.

Jacqueline is also the Director of the Couple and Family Training Centre where she runs regular professional development workshops and seminars for Therapists, Counsellors, Psychologists, Social Workers and Health Industry Workers who are looking to gain skills in this specialist area.

She is a Clinical Member of the Family Therapy Association of Australia and a Clinical Member of PACFA.

“Thank you for seeing me today. Your help with all our family issues and all your advice has been invaluable.
I don’t know how other families do it, without a Jacqueline in their lives.” – Anna (43) step-mum and mum to four children.

If you feel as though you could benefit from talking with a Therapist please contact  The Sydney Couple and Family Specialists on 02 8968 9397 or email

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