The World Did Not End

 

A Former Client

Recently a former client contacted me. She conveyed the success she and her second husband had had in part due to the advice they had received. They handled the divorce effectively and helped the children. They just celebrated their 36th. year of marriage and are a family with six children and grandchildren. It can be done.

Difficult Times

A marriage ending in divorce is a very difficult time. It is not just for the marital partners but the children as well. 

Well over forty years ago my first marriage ended in divorce. We had two young daughters who felt deep distress. At the same time another couple was coping with a divorce involving two young sons.  As it happened we were all friends.

Moving On through Pain

By truly great good fortune the other woman and I found we were interested in a relationship, The process ended in our marriage and we brought our four children together in the new marriage. If it sounds auspicious, it was not that simple. Understandably the children were not thrilled about divorces nor a remarriage. 

The events propelled my new wife and I into a new career. I was a clinical psychologist and my wife went back to school and became a clinical social worker. We opened a practice serving stepfamilies.

The Bottom Line

Through our divorces we learned some truths. The conflict between the divorcing couples must be brought under control. The children definitely do not want a new family. They want the old one back. 

There are realities which must be built. A new marriage must survive and the children must be directed to accept a new future. The bottom line is that it can be done.

My Future

We had to bring our clinical expertise to our picture and the picture of others. We recognized some things and served hundreds of families. Generally it is the woman who calls for help. Too often she is taken into individual therapy. And with children in crisis often one of them is also taken into individual therapy.

We saw a different way forward. When the woman called she was asked to bring her new husband with her. They needed information about how to build their new marriage and how to help the children navigate the crisis. The expectation was that the new marriage could thrive in time and the children could be guided to their new future.

The Outcome 

The process tended to work quite well. We knew the adjustment period was generally five to eight years but ongoing therapy was not necessary. Guidance was. With our approach we worked with hundreds of families and the average duration of help was just eight sessions for the couple. They were given guidance and ways to handle their own crises and help the children adjust. 

My wife and I are now approaching the celebration of our 44th. year together. Our children are thriving. It can be done. 

A Book for Surviving Divorce and Remarriage

My wife and I wrote a book to help professionals and stepcouples respond to divorce and the children in crisis. Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership by Mala S. But, M.S.W. and Roger B. Burt, Ph.D. It outlines how they can work together to overcome a difficult period. We thought our approach needed to be out there because too often we saw people being put in individual therapy while management by the couple was the way forward. The book is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership     

by Mala S. Burt, M.S.W. and Roger b. But, Ph.D.     

 Available on Amazon

Issues Pending

In this difficult era there are many issues pending. I just touched on divorce and remarriage and the common crises involved. Among other things n future posts I will begin to delve into our health system. Many years ago I was deeply involved in a reform movement. It ended badly but illustrates an ongoing crisis in our struggling health care system in need of reform.

America – Addict Nation Pt 2

 

A Call for Help

Shortly after I left my job working in inner city poverty in Baltimore I got a call from a good friend who had been a community organizer in that program. He had become an administrator at what was referred to as a Methadone treatment program. The treatment providers were recovering addicts and social workers. They were under the supervision of psychiatrists. Those supervisory relationships were not working well. I was familiar with that problem because the administrators of the program in Baltimore had been psychiatrists and the rest of us in the treatment delivery teams had to fight them constantly so that we remained focused on the real needs of the community we were serving and how those needs were addressed. What my friend wanted was someone who could address the needs of the incoming clients to the staff in a way that meant something to them. Long term intensive psychotherapy did not. Since I had been on the street with him and other staff I could talk the language of his staff and relate to their perspective. The staff needed a down to earth approach.

A New World of Problems

So I came on board as a clinical consultant. New clients were routed to me for an evaluation. In spite of my time on the street I was surprised at who was coming for help. I had been relating more to community services and the drug world was a different place. I expected to see heroin addicts arriving to take methadone. The people who came had many different problems. Some weren’t even what I would call “physiological” addicts. One nineteen year old had been using hallucinogens for six years. He wasn’t physically addicted to anything but had missed his adolescence.

I won’t go into all the details except to say that it made me aware that drug issues rarely stop at the matter of physiology. There are developmental issues, marital issues, education issues, job issues and on and on. There was absolutely no way to address everyone in the same way. It became a matter of designing approaches and determining needed resources for a broad range of needs.

Treatment Chaos

If we think anything else, we are deluding ourselves. As we begin to look at our opioid crisis there evidently are burgeoning treatment programs but some of them are shady and shabby enterprises. Just recently we learned that Google raked in over $1 billion in ad revenue related to advertising for treatment services. It seems there is insufficient regulation or attention to what needs to be provided and what is provided. We are missing the needs point. There is shouting about the addiction problem, but I’m not hearing a whole lot about a comprehensive plan or even a plan for working on having a plan.

Many Other Needs

One issue alone is illuminating. It is clear that a lot of these opioid drugs have flowed into Appalachia. This is the area where people have labored in coal mines, been injured, and suffer from chronic pain. The coal industry is clearly dying and there is little attention to what needs to be done for the economies of such areas. This alone tells us that we have a lot to study and work to be done. And much of the work needs to start today.

The Bottom Line

In some ways this blog post is nothing other than a warning. We have been diverted by political and ideological infighting. It is time to go to work in a more focused and cooperative way.

I’m going to close this post out now because this subject deserves study, certainly a book, or maybe a library of books. And we are not doing enough that is effective. We have a national scandal at many levels. We need to search and study our world.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt