Coping with the trauma of divorce
This paper presents research and clinical findings regarding how people cope with traumatic events. In the short run people may cope with trauma by trying to maintain the status quo via utilization of familiar behavioral repertoires and defensive behaviors like denial. While this strategy may control initial stress and anxiety, it could eventually lead to long-term maladjustment since it does not take account of altered post-traumatic realities requiring attitudinal and behavioral change. A review of clinical observations and research findings on divorce suggests that it is also a traumatic event, with divorcing parents resembling other post-traumatic victims in their initial utilization of defensive behaviors. It was suggested that cognitive-emotional integration of post-traumatic realities becomes possible when the initially high levels of stress and anxiety associated with the traumatic events subsides. Clinical and research implication of these coping processes and their relationship to adjustment are discussed.