The Role of Mental Health Professionals in Collaborative Divorce

Mental Health Professionals function as neutral coaches to a team of clients, attorneys, and possibly, financial specialists in collaborative divorce. They are licensed mental health professionals with advanced degrees (masters or doctorate) and experience working with families undergoing divorce. The role of mental health coaches is not to provide psychotherapy to the parties in collaborative divorce, but rather to empower divorcing parties to marshal their strengths and resources, recognize potential barriers to satisfactory resolution and identify options to achieve mutually acceptable outcomes. 

Mental health coaches with expertise in child development, clinical psychology and the impact of divorce on children may also be contracted to serve as child specialists to assist with adopting the best practices in order to meet the goal of decreasing potential emotional harm to the children.  

Mental health coaches provide support to parties in collaborative meetings, helping them contain and manage intense feelings and conflict as it arises. They facilitate, model and foster effective communication and problem solving. Like all members of the team, mental health coaches seek to participate in collaborative divorce meetings with the aim of helping clients through the process of divorce with dignity and humanity.

DR. RICHARD WITTE, Ph.D

Dr. Witte is a private practice clinical psychologist who has worked with a broad spectrum of people and psychological issues. Early counseling work was with adolescents and young adults struggling with drug and alcohol abuse and dependency. He has worked with severely mentally ill patients in day treatment programs, incarcerated adolescents and military dependents and families. He was the clinical director of Pacific Child and Family Guidance Center in Oakland, California and he founded and co-directed Berkeley Center, a child clinical and development center offering assessment and psychotherapy to low income children and families. He currently treats adults, couples, children adolescents and older adults. In addition to offering clinical consultation to other professionals, he also serves as a mental health coach in Collaborative Law divorces and family matters.

Dr. Witte has offices in Montpelier 802. 223.0180 and Burlington 802.658.2455.

 

 SCOTT WARD, LICSW

Scott has almost 20 years experience working with children and families related to co-parenting divorce and relationship dissolution. Scott's experience includes teaching Child Impact Seminars to divorcing parents and speaking at conferences on children's social, emotional and developmental issues.

As a Child Specialist in a collaborative divorce, Scott takes a neutral role by making an assessment of the child's (or children's) current behaviors, providing education to inform the family about the challenges of the process, and by developing a co-parenting plan with both parents.  Although a licensed professional, he does not provide therapy during the divorce. Instead, he  consults with parent's about:

  • the effects of divorce on children
  • what factors are linked to positive and negative effects on children
  • the development of a parenting plan specifically tailored to the needs of each family and their children
  • an assessment of how the child or children are doing throughout the process 
The Child Specialist meets with the entire collaborative team, the children, parents and, with parental consent, sometimes others involved with a child's life such as teachers and extended family members.  

In his experience as a Child Specialist, Scott has seen children exposed to family stressors, especially heightened parental conflict,  that sometimes has compromised a child's ability to manage emotionally, or perhaps it interferes with the child's personal and/or academic performances. Scott's job is to help determine the level of impact so parents can make informed decisions about the needs of their children while they move forward in their co-parenting role together.

Scott is affiliated with Networks, Inc. at 149 Cherry St, Burlington, VT  05401 and may be contacted at 1.866.840.1574 or email scottw@networksvt.org.

MARCY MILTON, LCMHC

Marcy has worked in the mental health field for more than 30 years, since earning her Masters in Mental Health degree from John Hopkins University. She has been in private practice at Networks, Inc. in Burlington since 1991. She has provided psychotherapy, consultation  and clinical supervision in a variety of settings, including mental health agencies, elementary schools, a pediatrics practice, Women's Rape Crisis Center (now Hope Works), among others.

Marcy sees adults, adolescents and children presenting with a range of clinical, behavioral and relationship issues. She specializes in treating depression and anxiety disorders, and major life transitions such as divorce or significant loss. By blending her training in psychodynamic theory, solution focused therapy and hypnotherapy, Marcy helps individuals, couples and families better understand the sources of their difficulties and develop effective skills to manage them. She also runs groups for parents who are separated or divorced.

During her years of working with families going through divorce, Marcy has seen how detrimental the process of litigation in court and its aftermath can be, especially to children. She believes that  Collaborative Law, with its emphasis on shared decision making, open communication and respectful interactions, leaves a more positive, lasting impact on the divorcing parents, and therefore on their children. Marcy is a mental health coach participating on the Collaborative divorce team, as well as a child specialist.

For more information visit www.networksvt.org email marcym@networksvt.org or call 1.866.217.3831.

 MARLENE MARON, Ph.D

Marlene Maron, Ph.D., is the Chief Psychologist/Manager of Psychological Services at Fletcher Allen Health Care. She is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and Psychology in the UVM College of Arts & Sciences. Dr. Maron provides clinical and administrative leadership to Pediatric, Medical and Rehabilitation Psychology at FAHC. Dr. Maron has worked in Vermont for 21 years serving children, adolescents, individual adults, couples and families. She provides psychotherapy, clinical supervision  consultation and coaching. In addition to her general clinical practice, Dr. Maron has conducted forensic evaluations and provides parental guidance aimed at facilitating pre and post-divorce adjustment. 

Marlene may be contacted at 802.847.4880.

KATE SUSKIN, MSW

Kate has been working in the Mental Health field for over 15 years. She received her Master of Social Work degree from Smith College and her undergraduate from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has post-graduate training from the counseling center at Stanford University where she completed a post masters fellowship and most recently she completed a two year training program in Bowen Family systems.  Kate maintains a private practice in Richmond where she sees adults, teens and children. She weaves together her training in psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral therapy and family systems, working with individuals, couples and families who present with a variety of issues including anxiety, depression, divorce and relationship issues and grief and loss.  In addition to her private practice, she serves as a mental health coach in the collaborative divorce practice.
 
To get in touch with Kate or for more information, please contact her at (802)503-0083