The Pivotal Role of a Divorce Coach When Transitioning Through Divorce,
An Interview with Shannon McGorry
Shannon McGorry is a divorce coach based in Pennsylvania who specializes in working with women throughout the United States. Her practice is centered on the concept of creating a Powerful Shift in Focus. Shannon’s unique philosophy centered on each client’s intentions allows her to draw upon the universal truths of divorce and combine those with the personal needs of each client, thus speeding up the process of getting to the “other side of divorce.”
Shannon McGorry was interviewed by Divorceify Co-founder, Sonia Queralt.
Sonia Queralt: How did you get started as a divorce coach and what has kept you motivated?
Shannon McGorry: One reason is my own divorce — having had that experience and being able to stand in my own power and navigate that well; I’ve seen how it has benefited me, my former spouse, and my children. Although divorce is very hard, you can rise above, gain the clarity, and stand in your own confidence, you can make decisions from a better place and you can stay a little more elevated while going through your divorce. I want to pass that message on to other women who are transitioning through divorce.
The second reason is to really help these divorcing women. We are all going to get to the other side of divorce, but the question is how we’re going to do it and how long is it going to take. For some people, it’s weeks or months. For some people it’s years, and my question is: why make it take that long? As a divorce coach, I’m passionate about helping women shorten the duration of divorce.
I know how hard divorce can be. Divorce really can be a game changer for women because it just evokes so many thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Divorce is the end of something, and that is the silver lining because it is an incredible opportunity to make it the beginning of something else. I help women see what’s possible on the other side, which starts with how they navigate the divorce process.
Queralt: What goals do you have for your divorce clients?
McGorry: To create a shift in focus and then to speed up the divorce process.
When divorce happens, whether it’s expected or not, there are so many to do’s, thoughts and feelings — so much is happening. We’re playing defense. We’re thinking, “What do I have to deal with? What do I have to think about? What did he say? What did she say? What is he doing?” We just get overwhelmed with the amount that’s being externally brought upon us. When we can shift our focus powerfully and look inside ourselves, we find that is actually really where the control and the power lies. When we clarify our values and our intentions, we are able to move forward in a very powerful way: with internal control and external release, as I like to say.
We’re going to release all these external stimulants that we really can’t control and that we’re only reacting to, and we’re going to harness the power inside, which then makes us so much more productive. Now we can make the decisions that need to be made during a divorce. A lot of women, in particular, see it as selfish to focus on themselves; but it’s not at all selfish to be your best self, to be able to stand in your own power. It’s not selfish to want to make decisions from a place of clarity based on what you value in life, because only when we are our best selves are we truly able to serve those that we love and care about. That’s a powerful shift in focus.
The second goal of a divorce coach is to speed up the process. I want to take my client from where she stands today to who she desires to be when she is living her life after a divorce. So when we’re replaying old stories in our heads and we’re thinking about the past and asking ourselves things like, “Why did he say this?” or “Why did she do that?” and “Who caused it?” and “What happened when?” — we’re stuck. We are stuck in that same story and it’s not serving us at all. We want to stay in the present moment and then take the first step forward into what will be.
If you don’t change, you’re going to be in the exact same spot years from now looking at the past and wondering what happened. That’s clearly not where any of us want to be. That’s what I mean by speeding up the process — being very intentional and taking actions that are going to move us forward.
Queralt: In your work, you talk about how you refuse to be defined by your divorce – what do you mean by that?
McGorry: I will not let my divorce define me. Did I have really tough moments and challenging times? Absolutely. My journal is full, kleenex boxes were emptied, I experienced anger, sadness, fear and every other emotion that comes with the roller coaster of divorce. I have been there. I have walked that path. However, I refuse to let divorce be my label in life or to let that be what defines me. For everyone who goes through a divorce, there is so much more to them than the fact that their marriage did not hold. So what does the next chapter look like?
I shine the light on possibility. That is something I feel very strongly about. We need to live and feel and have the hard emotions that come with divorce, but that does not mean that you are a failure or that your life is over as you knew it.
Queralt: Divorce coaching is still a new concept to many people in the divorce world and not everyone understands what divorce coaches do. What value does a divorce coach add to a team of divorce professionals?
McGorry: Clients with coaches can walk into an attorney’s office more prepared; they have already worked through some emotions, they have gotten a bit of a heads up on the divorce process, they have thought through some of the decision points in advance, and that’s a huge source of efficiency. Not only in time, but also in resources and financial commitment, both for the client and for the lawyer.
To have someone such as a coach who is going to be accessible to the client on issues that the legal team is not equipped to handle or doesn’t want to handle is a huge asset. Clients can use divorce coaches to in preparation for meetings with their attorneys and then also after the meetings. Maybe there’s something during the meeting that the client hadn’t thought through or that evoked some emotion. To have a place to go to process that, someone who’s going to intentionally hold that space for a client is really an invaluable asset.
I come from a family of athletes, and when an athlete needs to perform they are really highly focused on their hydration, their sleep, what they are putting into their body because the amount of energy that’s required from them on the field is astronomical. Well, let me tell you what: the amount of energy that’s required for somebody going through a divorce falls into that same category. Self-care during divorce is very important and that is a key component of my work as a coach. That’s just a small example of something tangible that a coach can help with.
Additionally, it is very difficult when you have gone through a divorce to never know where your trigger is going to come from. It could be years down the road. It could be a first name. It could be watching another family. It could be something on TV. But the triggers come, and they evoke emotion. No one’s looking for that, but when you haven’t taken the time to process your divorce and emotions in any capacity you are going to be caught off guard. Those waves of emotion are going to come at unexpected times, but having the tools to know how to deal with them when they do surface is critical.
Long after the divorce is done, long after the papers are signed, divorce is still an important part of your past; if you have children with your ex, or you have social circles that are commingled, it will also a be a part of your future. Knowing how to cope, how to deal, and how to thrive (not only just survive, but how to thrive) is really a key. A divorce coach is pivotal for someone transitioning through divorce.