What the heck’s a ‘therapeutic separation’?

Divorce can be scary. Litigation can be expensive. But sometimes things get so bad it seems the only way forward.

The daily bad habits of the marriage can become so ingrained that recovering can feel nearly impossible. Many couples carry on, hoping for the best, and when it doesn't come, end up in a divorce that neither may have really wanted.

A therapeutic separation can reinvigorate a broken relationship that has been damaged by stress, work, children, or other distractions. The goal is to renew the relationship and often involves counseling and opportunity for the kind of personal growth that's not possible when the couple has to deal with daily stress, anxiety, and marital triggers.

The terms of a therapeutic separation are flexible and self-directed. Couples, together with their mediator, set the terms of the separation by constructing a well-written and detailed legal separation plan that mitigates conflict and keeps the focus on reconciliation.

The separation plan will generally include detailed arrangements for financial issues and parenting issues, understandings about personal growth, mental health or addiction treatment, and so forth. Couples may choose to have one member move out for the term of the separation, rent an apartment, or even take turns switching who lives in the marital residence—especially if children are involved (this is also called 'nesting'.) The separation can last anywhere from 3 months to a year.

When a therapeutic separation can be useful

There could be a wider variety of reasons than this, but here are some common areas that may prompt a therapeutic separation:

  1. Extreme or persistent marital conflict
  2. One or both spouses feeling high levels of frustration or lack of satisfaction from the marriage
  3. Harmful patterns of interaction such as abuse, addiction, neglect, or control
  4. Indecision about whether one or both spouses want to remain in the marriage

When therapeutic separation is intentional and planned, with clear agreements and boundaries, it can be a healing experience that provides a foundation from which the couple can establish greater intimacy and deeper connection.

If you are interested in learning more about therapeutic separations, we welcome you to reach out to us with questions. We believe strongly in the healing powers of




Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *