Lisheyna Hurvitz

Lisheyna HurvitzAs a licensed psychotherapist, Lisheyna has created a Lifestyle format that is extremely effective in helping people grow and change. As a Lifestyle Consultant, she utilizes a unique blend of emotional, psychological and spiritual approaches which enable her to produce practical results.

In her consultations and groups, she helps people address personal and societal pressures, including the pressure to be perfect. As a gifted empath, she is able to empathize with her client’s feelings, quickly getting to the heart of the matter, thereby producing rapid results.

Services

Services:

• Listening to conflicts and refocusing parents to work cooperatively toward meeting the needs of the children

• Mediation of parental concerns

• Focusing parents on the importance of creating mutual agreements for dealing with children’s dental and medical needs, tutoring, after school activities, etc.

• Setting up of specific parameters of communication for productive discussion of conflict

• Providing a skills set for dealing with conflict and decision making

• Ongoing availability for facilitation of marital conflict throughout litigation

• Provide a comprehensive outline of the divorce process, including resources available for mediation, parent coordination, legal and financial assistance

 

Benefits

Benefits:

• Subsequent stages of the divorce process proceed more effectively and smoothly

• Allows mediators to focus on legal issues with the couple by providing a separate arena in which to manage the marital conflict

• Parents are emotionally better able to effectively make difficult legal decisions and have coherent legal conversations

• Attorneys are freed from the role of surrogate therapists

• Allows the parents to focus on the children’s needs by enabling them to communicate beyond emotional discord

• Parents are more receptive and cooperative with the Parent Coordinator and are more willing to implement homework assignments

• Empowers parents to create their children’s best scenario beyond their personal needs

Divorce PDF Print E-mail

Divorce Specialties

Psychotherapist, Divorce Mediator, Parent Coordinator

Divorce can be traumatic.

Divorce with children can be a tragedy.

As a divorce specialist Lisheyna addresses the emotional trauma of divorce prior to litigation, easing the way for a more productive legal process. Lisheyna offers an important and specific form of counseling whose mission is to assist parents in resolving their conflicts regarding child rearing through successful co-parenting.

 

Divorce Articles - Click Article Title

The Impact of MHCs in Divorce Mediation
The Impact of MHCs
in Divorce Mediation

Mediation is an opportunity to work out differences between people in a non-adversarial arena. One of the things that sets mediation apart from legal proceedings is that mediation is an arena for the couple in dispute to directly communicate with a neutral third party present. In a courtroom, only the lawyers get to communicate - they represent the couple, who do not get to speak freely other than as a witness in response to a question from an attorney. The mediator does not function as an attorney who gives advice; nor does the mediator function as a judge who hands down rulings. This person is a trained, task-oriented facilitator. Mediation training is now open to attorneys, mental health counselors and certified public accountants. It was a field that was primarily dominated by attorneys. In order to shift from a punitive legal orientation, more mental health counselors need to join the ranks of mediation. The following is a good example of why this is necessary in order to cause a contextual shift.

Case example

Debbie and Harvey, each with their own legal representation, walked into the divorce mediatorÕs conference room. They were there to revisit the issues of child support and to deal with some financial matters that had arisen over the ex-wifeÕs moving out of state. There were damages and disbursement issues regarding their three children; close to a year of an upsetting long-distance legal battle; unresolved past emotional marital upsets; and probably a few more things you could throw into the pot. These people had been divorced for almost two years!

Debbie and her attorney sat on one side of the conference table; Harvey and his attorney sat on the other. At the head of the table sat the Ôneutral partyÕ, the state certified mediator. In the corner sat an observer, a mediator in training. All parties present had given their permission for the observer to be there.

Setting up the process

The mediator started out by introducing herself, handling the logistics, letting the couple know that this is an informal procedure, discussing communication rules within the session, confidentiality and other rules that assist the mediator in managing the process. This is done so that clients in conflict know the procedural framework and feel the safety of this non-official neutral opportunity. It can become official when they reach an agreement, but it is afar cry from being in the courtroom in front of a judge.

This mediator established that there was a joint commitment of good faith. This means that each part is willing to make an effort to resolve the dispute today, i.e. to reach a settlement. Then the mediator clearly established her role as being a facilitator in assisting the couple in finding solutions. Finally, at the end of the mediatorÕs opening statement, she asked if the couple had an questions.

The process

Each attorney had a chance ot give their opening statements. since this wa a post-divorce situation, the procedure and content were somewhat different from a standard divorce mediation. Then the mediator took the lead and established what issues were already agreed upon. She also reiterated that the entire session was confidential and the discussions would not leave the room. What transpired after that was basically two attorneys arguing with each other over money. This took quite a lnog time and was also done using many legal terms. The observer wondered whether the couple actually understood what the attorneys were saying. The financial issue because a roadblock where both parties stuck steadfastly to their position. At that point, the mediator called a caucus with the ex-wife and her attorney.

A caucus is a private meeting between some of the parties and is called at the mediatorÕs suggestion. Others in the room can request a caucus but it is up to the mediatorÕs discretion if one is held. Attorneys and their respective clients can meet separately whenever they need to and this is different from a caucus called by the mediator.

After spending over 20 minutes with Debbie and her attorney, the mediator brought back several proposals to Harvey and his attorney. She then spent about 15 minutes with Harvey and counsel creating a counter proposal. She took back this counter proposal to Debbie and counsel. In this caucus they reviewed that information and decided to reconvene. The decision to reconvene came about because time was running short, and they were still at an impasse over several issues.

The mediator addressed why they were back together in one group. She also acknowledged how much territory had been covered. They had agreed upon certain issues but were still deadlocked on others. She pointed to the big picture, asked if they were open for compromise, and did her best to create an agreement. She even worked directly with the couple trying to elicit a viable compromise. One side moved off of their position bu the other side refused. At this point it was very late and they decided to reconvene two days later. Debbie was leaving town shortly so they had clear time parameters.

Observer involvement

I was the observer and I met with the mediator after everyone left. We discussed the case at length. She answered many of my questions regarding the legal terminology and suggested that my Ôperceived inadequaciesÕ in this area could probably enhance the coupleÕs understanding also. I acknowledged her ability as a mediator and pointed to the things I thought she did well. They I made some suggestions as to how to get through the deadlock. I asked her to speak with one of the attorneys in particular to find out exactly what was upsetting her and to deal with it if she could or to apologize if necessary. Then I suggested that she address the underlying upset between the couples, with them in the room, so they could each get a chance to communicate exactly what was bothering them. This would help clear the air and assist her in separating the issues from the emotions. I also suggested that she focus the couple on their children and what would support their childrenÕs best interest and their future co-parenting relationship.

Second session

When we reconvened she addressed these issues. She also had spoken to each of the attorneys the day before this meeting. I arrived late. She stopped the proceedings to bring me up to speed and to acknowledge my contribution to what had happened. The entire tone of the mediation had changed from anger and adversarial to one of mutuality and cooperation. She had done an excellent job in implementing my suggestions. She asked for my input as needed. Although DebbieÕs counsel was present, she was able to work more directly with the couple to reach an agreement. The couple even left the room once to speak privately over some final issues. Together they drew up a new document. HarveyÕs attorney was consulted by phone and assisted in drawing up and approving the final document which the couple signed. They were able to talk amicably with one another and were both reasonably satisfied with their new agreement. They even hugged and kissed each other good-bye as we were all leaving. I let them know how moved I was at their willingness to negotiate and to focus on their childrenÕs well-being instead of their own individual pettiness. It was truly a privilege to be a part of this process. I felt in some way I had made a difference in these peopleÕs lives and in the mediatorÕs future ability to mediate more effectively.

Mediation as an option

I encourage all of you who are working with divorce to explore the option of mediation, both for your clients and for your own information or career expansion. The more we are able to shift the legal conversation to a human conversation, the faster we can save the lives of the children and the adults involved. The trauma involved in a strictly legal and adversarial divorce is awful. Please support, in your speaking and in your actions, the paradigm shift from fighting and hatred to negotiating, mediating and creating a future that works for all parties involved.

Redefining the Transitional Process as it Relates to Divorce

Redefining the Transitional Process
as it Relates to Divorce

Often the divorce process is referred to as a difficult transitional time in our lives. It certainly does cerate a sudden and abrupt change in our perspective. This process brings up what constitutes change.

Many people think that divorce is a temporary time period between the static point in life that they just came from, and the other static point in life that they will be living in after they make it through the Ôupset of the divorce episodeÕ. Maybe it would be useful, when looking at the divorce process, to speak in terms of what skills are needed during those moments in time. When life is flowing along its usual daily path, we are automatically using a certain set of skills and tools that we are quite familiar with. When this regular flow is interrupted, when it is no longer business as usual, we are forced to become more alert or conscious, go into our tool box of life skills and use tools that are totally new to us, or at least somewhat unfamiliar. This state of alertness combined with unfamiliar territory and the use of new tools creates the illusion of a Ôtransitional periodÕ. While we are separating and divorcing we are awakened from our usual state of Ôsemi-sleepÕ of Ôsemi-sleepÕ in life.

We live in the illusion that life is fixed, static and stable. We label that as good, comfortable, normal and Ôthe way it should beÕ, when I actuality we live in one long transitional period - a constant state of flux and change. The series of events that start at birth proceed to many moments of ÔnowÕ and end in death is what we call life. Yet we label change as uncomfortable, foreign, filled with uncertainty and something to avoid at all costs. Implicit in that is the assumption that if you are handling your life correctly, change and discomfort can be avoided if not totally eliminated. This is the fundamental misconception of transitional periods. We really wouldnÕt have this concept at all if we lived in the reality of ÔnowÕ because there is nothing other than moment-by-moment living. But we, as a culture, live in the ÔillusionÕ that life is fixed and therefore we need special skills to get through Ôtransitional timesÕ. We even define Ôtransitional timesÕ as those nasty rough spots that we have to endure in order to get from one fixed spot to another.

Illusion vs. reality

Once we, as counselors, make the distinction between illusion (no change) and reality (a constant state of flux), we can build in many different directions. The acquisition of new skills becomes an opportunity in the learning process of the lives of our clients. It recontextualized divorce and new awareness as a part of the life journey instead of this Ôhorrible and terrible happeningÕ. It is useful to know that when we refer to the transitional process of divorce, we are basing our conversation on the illusion of Ôstatic and fixedÕ.

We could say now that all of life is one long transition. Divorce then, is just a short segment in this long life transition when specific different skills and an increase in awareness are extremely helpful. Traversing this path is only more painful and horrible if we label it that way. It is merely very different and an abrupt change from Ôbusiness as usualÕ. This does not negate our clientsÕ experience of pain, turmoil and upset. It reframes it in a more useful way that facilitates learning new life skills, especially in the counseling process.

External and Internal Meaning of Holidays
External and Internal
Meaning of Holidays

Alone with others during the Easter holiday. It was their Easter that they included me in. It used to be my Easter that I shared with my friends who had no local family. So now the tables were turned. Only I was no longer a college student thankful for the free meal and good company. I was 40, divorced with children and without all of the familiar tradition I had known as a married woman and mom. All of my holidays have been like this since my separation. Life used to be normal. Now the comforting family traditions bring only sadness and pain. They symbolize a loss of the nuclear family I had worked so hard to create. All of my 15-year accomplishments went up in smoke. Nothing lasts and nothing remains the same. Who would have known that I had grown accustomed to these holiday celebrations, a symbol of my achievement regarding family. I was the first-born daughter. I married a doctor and had two beautiful children, my own part-time career and a lovely home. According to my folks I had made it. Then I lost it and things have not looked the same since that time.

Making it also meant that my future was both known and secure. Life had a certain amount of predictability. I knew I would be taken care of and life would turn out okay, but my illusion was shattered.

My marriage was irreparably broken and so were my dreams, and the ripple of these broken dreams was to go on for a very long time. I would not expect the sudden burst of tears and the overflowing sadness that would erupt at family functions. I would not know to anticipate the upset while among my happily married friend, with children. All the surprising reminders of a life aborted midstream would cause the resurgence of pain. Would this ever stop? I thought maybe it would with the formation of a new nuclear family structure with new traditions.

New traditions

Little did I know the new nuclear family structure was a single parent family with me as Ôhead of householdÕ. Instead of new external traditions we would develop deep, internal flowing heart connections that nurtured and supported us. Our spiritual connectedness allowed us to weather all kinds of external shifts and transitions. Always reconnecting with the heart, we were able to process both easy and difficult times. Life became more of a joyous sharing and less of an external, tradition-bound rigid arrangement. Tending our family garden became a new way of life. People began to flow into and out of our lives more naturally. We made lots of interesting friends who brought new kinds of experiences. We learned about team. As their teacher, Mr. Phillips, taught them, ÒThere is no ÔIÕ in team.Ó We discovered if we all stuck together life could be a bold adventure well worth living.

Does this story sound like something that has happened to you or to your clients? It is an all too familiar saga of the sadness and rearrangement that happens to people post-divorce. Lives are abruptly changed and people are little prepared for the emotional fallout that comes with it. It is very important for counselors to support their clients in fully discussing and dealing with these feelings. Especially during holidays, there is tremendous implicit societal pressure to have fun and to be with your family while you are having this fun. People who are in the middle of a changing family structure do not fit into the old nuclear family traditions. There is no societal provision for these people as in some kind of alternative tradition for singles or people in transition. There is not a lot of room for people to express feelings outside of what is normally expected. It is common to hear sayings such as ÒdonÕt be a wet blanketÓ or ÒDonÕt be a party pooper.Ó in other words, keep your sadness or upset to yourself. This only helps drive the upset even deeper as the person feels badly about feeling bad to begin with.

It is useful for clinicians to discuss the potential of this happening with their clients, and also brainstorm alternatives such as being with close friends or being alone. Normalizing sadness and the roller coaster of life transition assists a person in experiencing their experience as well as in making life-appropriate plans. It is like providing a traveler with a map with lots of options and a general lay of the land. You can use it as a guide yet make your own wise individual choices.

Holidays are difficult for people when things are going well. They are especially hard for people going through disorienting times. Counselors can provide a safe haven and be a valuable guide to those in need.

Divorce and the Mental Health Counselor
Divorce and the
Mental Health Counselor

The divorce rate is staggering - over 50 percent of the population. Often a mental health counselor will be going through a divorce at the same time as providing counseling to someone in a similar circumstance.

We all have been taught that for a counselor to be effective, there needs to be a personal bonding that establishes a sense of relatedness between counselor and client. The client learns to feel safe and willing to share. The counselor is empathetic and may possibly relate to the clientÕs problems. The counselor creates new perspectives for the client to Ôtry onÕ. The client gains insights and develops a new point of view. The counselor assists the client in achieving flexibility on pressing issues and thus enables the client to move on. The client has developed a healthy change in behavior and point of view. Goal achieved! This is an ideal situation - simplistically serving our purposes.

A counselor going through major interpersonal and lifestyle changes induced by a divorce is vulnerable for a breakdown at all therapeutic stages. Ideally, the mental health counselor who is divorcing should probably not be doing counseling with divorcing clients. My personal bias (from experience) at minimum is that if you are going through a divorce, you should also be in counseling yourself. This provides a safe space for handling your personal issues and perhaps minimizes any transference which is likely to occur.

Bonding breakdown

A preoccupied counselor will not bond as effectively with the client. If a counselor is tied up handling personal issues, the counselor might not be present enough to establish an effective client relationship. A counselor who is successfully processing personal issues in personal therapy will more easily let go of personal reality and get the important work done with the client.

During the bonding process, a serious possibility for breakdown can occur. A client may share a sensitive issue corresponding with the counselorÕs issue. Counselors could get stuck in sharing their own personal experiences and shift the session to work out personal issues. This is where the counselors lose their own personal boundaries as well as the crucial value of counselor sharing. Clients should not have to pay for working on the counselorÕs personal issues.

The second potential breakdown point is when the counselorÕs issue is so reactivated by the clientÕs issue that the counselor chooses to avoid it at all costs. This eliminates the clientÕs ability to explore a key issue and to achieve a new focus or resolution. A Ôwell meaningÕ counselor may be ineffective in handling a clientÕs problem if it is very similar to the counselorÕs own situation.

The next potential area of breakdown occurs when the clientÕs issue is where the counselor is stuck on personal issues. The counselor then matches the client, and both are in agreement about how bad the situation is. Neither one is able to provide the necessary grease to shift point of view. Obviously this does not assist the client toward resolution. This could also reinforce the clientÕs stuck position by getting such strong counselor agreement. This makes further resolution or reframing more difficult for the client. The counselor in this situation has failed to create new openings with the client. Hopefully, the counselor will recognize this and agree to address this issue more effectively in a following session. The counselor can also refer the client to someone who would be more effective if not able to readily address and deal with the situation through personal counseling.

The major pitfall that mental health counselors who are going through their own divorce face is not being able to let go of personal problems. This prevents them from being fully present with their clients. The clientÕs reality is one of being stuck in a Ôsurvival modeÕ where they are unable to let go of their problems. When counselors are too consumed with their own personal issues, they lose their ability to stand in someone elseÕs experience. This gift of understanding clients from their point of view is something the counselor is privileged to provide. If counselors are too caught up in their own lives, they will be unable to provide this gift. Counselors need to recognize their need to be in personal counseling in order to maintain their effectiveness as change agents.

Counseling Couples in Crisis
Counseling Couples in Crisis

Sam and Martha came into my office and argued for almost the entire session. Each blamed the other for not listening, for not seeing the situation from the otherÕs point of view, for not ever giving in or compromising, for tuning the other out, for paying attention to others at work or to good friends outside of the material unit, and for dumping responsibilities on the other so that they could be free to do things outside of the home (working out, playing golf, socializing, etc.).

Sam and Martha each felt victimized by the other and justified in their position. Sam was concerned about the effect their fighting was having on their two children, so he ended up taking care of them a few evenings a week while Martha went to Ôbusiness meetings or out for cocktails with some friendsÕ. He also felt very neglected by Martha when she was home as she did not pay much individual attention to him socially or sexually. She felt he was overly controlling, unduly jealous, manipulative and not supportive enough of her new business endeavor. They each questioned whether they should stay married or get divorced. They were certain the situation was hopeless and they were discussing separation.

How would you respond?

Does this situation or a variation thereof sound familiar to you? What do you do when a couple like Sam and Martha are in your office? Do you discuss the possibility of teaching them new communication skills in order to sort through some of their differences? Do you open up a conversation regarding who is responsible for each personÕs individual experience? What about the fallout of unfulfilled expectations and how each person deals with anger and resentment? Do you shift the focus onto their history or do you address their current breakdown? Do you follow up their conversation about divorce and separation or do you go in another direction?

Childern of Divorce Speak Out
Childern of Divorce Speak Out

We have briefly looked at divorce from the adultÕs point of view as well as that of the counselor going through a divorce. Many of the letters I received from people responding to the Divorce Network requested that we look at how divorce affects children. I thought that instead of writing about children, I would interview them directly. The following paragraphs are a summary of what six children ranging from ages 8-15 had to say about their experiences. These children initially experienced divorce from ages 3-8. Half came from a joint custody situation and half from their mother being the primary residential parent and visitation with their father every other weekend. They all came from very privileged backgrounds. Their points of view do not represent all children.

The kids gathered around the kitchen counter and randomly tossed out their points of view. ÒI donÕt remember things being any different than the way they are right now,Ó said a number of them. Some kids worry about their future - like where they are going to live. Others may think it is their fault and either get upset or try to do things that will bring their parents back together. One child got so upset that he started acting out and his parents got quite concerned. This child remembered nothing ut of the ordinary about his parents break up. His dad shared with him some of the stories of hsi acting out and of how sensitive he was at that time. His son was amazed at how much he had forgotten. He enjoyed hearing about these episodes and the other children chimed in, requesting stories about their behavior during those times. They laughed a lot, realizing how far they had come in the process of making a successful transition to the present.

Then they spoke about some of the pros and cons of coming from divorced families. Some said that it was much better seeing their parents happy in separate homes rather than fighting constantly in the same home. One said he hates going back and forth because there is always something he forgets that he needs the next day such as his soccer shoes, tennis racquet, baseball uniform, etc. another said it was difficult living in two homes with two separate sets of rules. They all agreed that this took a lot of adjusting and adapting. They said one home was more relaxed and loving. The other home was Òfull of rules and disciplineÓ and generally was not much fun. All the children had a preference for the home where they felt love was demonstrated the most. Yet they were very accepting of being in two such different households.

Advantages

to my surprise, they saw many more advantages to living in two homes. They liked having two homes, two bedrooms, a greater selection of friends from two different neighborhoods and more privileges in one home. The way they figured it, they could have come from one home with lots of rules so they had an advantage of having an extra home where they experienced greater room for self expression. They usually had two birthday parties each year - one with each parent. That added up to two celebrations and a lot more presents as well as more attention. They felt they learned at an earlier age how to adapt more easily to change. They were more flexible in terms of schedules and more accepting in their personal relationships.

Not only did the kids enjoy sharing their experiences but they bonded together in a unique way. They realized that they were a special group that before that moment had remained undistinguished.

Support groups

This opens up the possibility for childrenÕs support groups for the sole purpose of networking or in conjunction with therapy. This would give healthy children from divorced families a chance to share ideas and relate to each other from a common base of experiences. These groups can begin the paradigm shift from Ôscarred children of the destructive divorce processÕ to a healthy networking of Ôchildren raised in the single parent family modelÕ. We can begin to move from the pain/dysfunctional model toward the opportunity of the new single parent family unit. Divorce is here to stay so we, as change agents, might as well come from a more accepting and acknowledging point of view. This not only allows for positive changes, but still includes room for all the trauma and upset of divorce. It merely recontextualizes it so that we see divorce as a difficult and challenging life transition and not as a terminal negative experience.

Singleitis - A Post-divorce Phenomena?

Singleitis - A Post-divorce Phenomena?

A leading radio advertisement starts out asking "Are you single, lonely, tired of the bar scene and skeptical of the single's video dating service? then you more than likely are suffering from singleitis..." finding companionship and a new network of friends post-divorce is such a challenging endeavor that they have named a new 'social condition' after this. How do you coach your clients in creating a new single support system for themselves? Where do they go to look for this? If they live in suburbia, compared to a large city, there is virtually no designated singles place to go. The suburbs are geared toward married couples and families.

Single lifestyles

Although over 50 percent of the marriages end in divorce, our society still revolves around a "married lifestyle". Individuals who come to see me post-divorce are floundering in a sea of aloneness with no clear "single" options. Their previous married friends no longer want to socialize with them and they usually don't have a whole lot of single friends to start hanging out with. Some of their married friends go to dinner and the movies with other couples over the weekend. Even if their friends included them in these plans, there is no networking of single people to meet while they are out. Confronted with rejection from married friends and not many new single options, these clients feel alone and unsure of how to create a future that has potential in meeting other singles like themselves.

Many of my male divorced clients end up working more to fill the time as well as to make more money. Since this increases their exposure to people in their line of work, they date their secretaries or nurses. Some of them would like a way to meet women in other areas of business or medicine but they have no idea how to accomplish this.

Some divorced female clients, on the other hand, have had to figure out how to generate an income on top of relocating their homes, having all the daily responsibilities of raising their children and running a home, etc. They have no specific way of meeting new friends or potential dates nor do they have a lot of extra time to do it in. They are in a real double bind because this exhausting lifestyle does not allow much time for themselves; yet at the end of a busy day they yearn to be with some nurturing partner who can "give the giver" something. But when (and where) do they have time to find this person?