Separation and Divorce Coaching Programs

Divorce is considered to be one of the most stressful life events after the death of a loved one. Symptoms of anxiety, depression, feelings of stuckness, cycles of anger and blame can cause significant mental health issues for divorcing spouses and children.

Once a decision is made to separate or divorce, navigating separation and endings and rearchitecting a relationship can be challenging. Regardless of the circumstances, endings and transitions in relationships can include a complexity of challenges including assessing and getting perspective on the relationship, managing feelings, negotiating separation agreements, division of assets, coparenting, and more. Divorce coaching and/or therapy can be an important resource to help you navigate it in a healthy, growth-oriented, optimal way, while grieving and navigating a significant loss.

Sometimes people come to therapy to determine if they should stay together. Often one person may be leaning out while it pulls the other to lean in and fight for the relationship. Or one person has already left the relationship and the other needs support in leaving. This can be a challenging experience for all.

Discernment Therapy

Discernment Counseling - James McCracken, LCSW

Discernment Therapy is an option that can help partners get clarity about their commitment and willingness to work on the relationship. This is often the process when one person is more out of the relationship than available to do Couples Therapy.  Through the process of assessing needs, values, and what’s important to you at this stage in your life and relationship, discernment counseling can help people get clearer on the question of “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”.

Emotional Freedom 21-Day Online Divorce Coaching Programs and Retreats

Life is short and the costs of being stuck in the negative cycles of divorce can be costly – emotionally, mentally, financially, and more. I offer Divorce Programs and Retreats that include a 21-day Online Emotional Freedom Coaching Program and an individualized Haven 7-day Retreat for those wanting to drop in, and realize the benefits of an intensive retreat over a short amount of time with lots of 1:1 coaching time. For more information, click here.

Collaborative Practice Divorce Coaching

Collaborative Practice is a team approach to resolving conflict using a friendly and collaborative process that keeps the clients in control of their future and maintains what is most important: family, finances, and emotional health (as defined by the California Chapter of Collaborative Practice). Valerie is a member of the Collaborative Practice San Mateo and Collaborative Practice Golden Gate. Because this approach is coaching, rather than therapy, I am available to provide coaching on collaborative divorces beyond the bounds of California.

Model of collaborative divorce

Collaborative Practice is a national model that helps couples divorce using specially trained professional teams of attorneys, divorce coaches, and a financial neutral that work together to help couples divorce in a supportive environment without litigation. This model helps couples make the important decisions regarding custody, assets, and other important issues rather than a judge. When couples decide for themselves what’s important regarding the best custody, coparenting, and financial arrangements, they are much more likely to be bought into the outcome. The process helps couples communicate about what’s important and reach important decisions and agreements while reducing the adversary approach of litigation. This model helps couples who want more control over their future find mutually agreeable solutions that reflect the goals and welfare of both parties and their children.

As a Collaborative Practice Divorce Coach, I help people navigate the intense emotions that can arise, and move through challenges, feel more empowered in their decision-making, and move forward. Moving forward helps build resiliency, and helps you to help your children be resilient. Call 650-332-4656 or email to discuss your situation and whether Collaborative Practice is right for you.


CoParenting is a post-divorce parenting arrangement in which both parents continue to jointly participate in their children’s upbringing and activities. This involves a substantial amount of interaction between the parents (both in public and in private).

When couples need to co-parent, developing a co-parenting plan provides a roadmap as part of the divorce process. This plan is designed to help ensure that they are on the same page to co-parent effectively and to proactively address issues such as healthcare decision-making and extracurricular transportation so that opportunities for conflict are minimal.

When parents are constantly in conflict and unable to communicate effectively, the parallel parenting model allows the parents to spend time with their children independently in order to minimize the risk that their hostile relationship will be harmful to their children. Rather than structuring a co-parenting plan that fosters joint interaction between the parents and their children, divorcing spouses will develop a parallel parenting plan that minimizes the need for interaction as much as possible. However, due to the nature of relationships requiring parallel parenting, developing a parallel parenting plan often means going to court and having a judge establish a plan based upon the arguments and evidence presented by both spouses.

For both CoParenting and Parallel Parenting, parents will typically need to establish guidelines regarding issues such as:

  • Custody schedules
  • Discipline and consequences
  • Speaking negatively of one another in front of their children
  • Using their children as an intermediary for communications
  • Decision-making authority regarding shopping, friends, curfew, extracurricular sign-ups, and similar child-related matters
  • Appropriate times for communicating outside of their children’s presence
  • Monitoring and scheduling children’s communications with one parent during the other’s parenting time

Developing solution oriented coparenting plans can help minimize the impact on children and support the best transition for them as possible after the loss and grief of separation. Support during this time, especially for high conflict couples or situations that involve betrayal or hurt, can help manage feelings, identify needs, and navigate the delicate task of coparenting. Paths to Wellness provides care and support through all phases of discernment and separation.

Resilient people become stronger.
They cultivate wisdom by adversity and learning from the past
and are able to move forward more quickly.

Resilient parents create resilient children.


For more information on resiliency, read Resiliency in Divorce – What it Is and Why You Want It by Lisa Murray, Esq. and Valerie Sher, PhD:  click here.


Through seeking mutual understanding, I help find win-win solutions for couples choosing to work together to find amicable, best for everyone outcomes that serve the needs of each person and the extended families.

Trained by the Center for Understanding in Conflict, I work to find what’s important and meaningful for each party and help them work through their conflict together. This model involves bringing people together and assume the responsibility for dealing with their conflict. Through this process, results reached are often much more satisfying and rewarding and there’s a greater sense of ownership and buy-in.