Self-Awareness + Action = Change;
An Interview with Divorce Coach, La-Verne Parris
La-Verne Parris is a New York-based divorce coach with a unique approach and an affordable rate. La-Verne helps her clients identify their specific challenges and then focus on how they can effect positive change by altering their own actions, attitude or approach.
La-Verne was interviewed by Divorceify Co-founder Casey Rose Shevin.
Casey Shevin: Can you describe your approach to divorce coaching?
La-Verne Parris: There are specific ways that we can approach happiness, but the foundation has to be discipline; discipline in our thoughts and how we treat ourselves. As a coach, I shine the light and let my clients find the way.
Shevin: What does beginning the work really look like?
Parris: Our work together starts with an initial conversation, which you can call a consultation, but I really like to make it a discussion. During that conversation, I identify specific issues based on what my clients say. My goal is to separate out emotions and identify them, and then target specific behaviors my client may need to change in order to be their best self. No one is perfect — but we can grow, we can change, and we can embrace where we are and move forward.
Most people say they don’t know where to start, and yet, just by being with me they are starting. First, we identify an issue – for example, self-sabotaging behavior at work. I will then have the client list examples of specific examples of that behavior. We lay out the behavior at issue and the effect of this behavior at work. In the next column we write out how they can change, or another choice they can make that might lead to a better outcome. In the next column, we write what the potential outcome of this new behavior might be. By using this approach we separating out actions, effects, another alternative course of action, and a potential effect of that alternative choice. By seeing cause and effect my clients can identify a path forward.
I find that writing gives people a chance to sit down for a moment, forget about the business of the day, and really process their emotions. Our days are so full, sometimes we’re not even aware of how we’re feeling because we’re constantly hustling to get from point A to point B. Having a moment to just to sit and reflect minimizes my extreme emotions – whether it’s frustration, impatience, anger, sadness. Then I can reflect without blame and think about my role. Did I do my best?
Once we start reflecting, we can then say, “Okay. I could’ve done this differently. Maybe I’ll try another approach next time.” It’s that step back that allows more objectivity. I encourage my clients to take a step back before they react, or before they start holding on to a belief that might not necessarily be true about a situation or a person.
I teach my clients how to use this tool, but really the clients are doing the work. I’m guiding them, but never saying “You need to do this and that.” I’m laying out the organizing tool for them and then guiding them in this new way to approach each separate issue or relationship in their lives. It’s very rewarding to see people transform. Self-awareness plus action equals change.
Shevin: How can your approach support someone’s divorce process in a way that would reduce the stress of their divorce?
Parris: First and foremost, I think the most pressing issue during divorce is going home at the end of the day to the person you’re in the process of divorcing. Your home should be your sanctuary, your refuge, but during a divorce, it can feel like a war zone. The first thing I could help with that is to establish specific boundaries in the home and a plan of action for reaching decisions.
So much of divorce is about the unknown and fear of the unknown. I would suggest setting specific times to discuss divorce, with goals for each conversation. Once couples have set structured times to talk about divorce, that minimizes the fear of going home and being overwhelmed. When you’re going through a divorce or separation, you don’t know what to expect, and many people avoid going home to avoid dealing with the uncomfortable topics. But, it’s actually good for us to push through being uncomfortable, to ask, “Why is this making me feel uncomfortable?”
When it comes to finances — am I uncomfortable because I don’t feel like I’m bringing enough to the table? Am I concerned that I won’t be receiving what I need? These are all valid fears and concerns that can be talked about in a productive way.
Shevin: Do you typically meet clients by phone or in person?
Parris: My approach to coaching is completely individualistic. Every client, every issue, everything each person is going through is unique. People don’t always want to sit down and just talk, sometimes they want to do things while they are talking. I have found that being engaged in other activities helps my clients process their emotions. I find that venues outside of the traditional office setting are so much more amenable to that. I offer activity appointments, which give people an opportunity to loosen up in a different setting. We can go on a long walk or talk over a game of pool. But I can also work with clients by phone.
Visit La-Verne’s profile in the Divorceify network to contact her for divorce coaching.