Revolutions don’t begin with a roar; they begin with a whisper…
The process of divorce – which might be described in economic and social terms as marriage’s dark yet liberated twin – is becoming democratized by divorce coaching, where early innovators like Liza Caldwell are leading the charge. As a result, women are surging ever-forward in an ongoing zeitgeist of social and economic transformation. They are claiming their truth and their happiness in culturally important and evolving ways.
One of the first to articulate the need for educating and empowering women through the crisis of divorce and life beyond it, Caldwell developed coaching not only as a new model for divorce but also as a more inclusive, empowering, and healthy one. Divorce coaching is a significant departure from the traditional adversarial model that uses lawyers as hierarchical mercenaries on one’s behalf, a model that often leaves smoking holes in family relationships and individual psyches.
Coaching is a more interdisciplinary approach to divorce; it leverages the woman’s voice, as is the case in Caldwell’s work, and facilitates her ability to stand up again. It teaches women how to support themselves and their children, and how to do it well. Its trajectory is toward educating women and – between its new modality and the Internet – it puts forth the idea that with some empathetic help, direction, and the right tools, women can be their own best advocates.
What this means is that Caldwell and other pioneers like her are creating a new vocabulary for the process of self-change. As a result, that vocabulary lends fresh language to the divorce experience, giving women traction and perspective to see themselves, self-educate, and explore new possibilities.
It is a revolution that women across the globe are bringing about, one quiet (or quite loud) voice at a time. As a result of the trend towards empowerment inherent in the divorce coaching model, women in particular are following this migration in huge numbers, developing new versions of their respective approaches. And while the quality of each woman’s journey is genuinely the point, the fact that industry is following the social upheaval women are bringing about does lend the movement quantifiable support.
This industry trend, and the cultural permission it legitimizes and grants, didn’t exist before early innovators like Caldwell and other women (typically) who had an interest in leading others through tough times. “There’s something about the opening, deep inside the chaos,” says Caldwell, who graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University and, as an older student, earned her masters from Columbia’s Teachers College, “the vulnerability — and its potential for transformation — heightens our awareness. Divorce isn’t just a business transaction. It’s a whole life question.”
The fact that divorce coaching is new and tends to be more holistic is what makes coaching so interesting. It’s wise financially – but it also takes a woman out of the shame of divorce and makes divorce a valuable rite of passage for a woman to find her greatness.
Caldwell describes the single woman household as a growing economic phenomenon, with many women now functioning alone or as the primary breadwinner for their families. “As we start to recognize the value in our own stories,” she notes, “other professionals have begun to listen. They’ve become increasingly ‘female friendly’.”
There are now schools that certify professionals in divorce coaching. There were none when Caldwell started SAS for Women
in 2012, creating with it her own unique methodology as educator, disaster responder, and certified transformational coach. Lawyers themselves are recognizing the value of coaching, mediation, and the “collaborative divorce model,” pushing to the back the traditional adversarial approach. And even some lawyers are now getting certified as divorce coaches, as well.
Bankers and financial advisors are seeing the power of this female market, and they’ve created a new certification program within their area of expertise, called Certified Divorce Financial Planners and Certified Divorce Financial Analysts.
Real estate brokers and agents recognize the divorce niche and the growing power of women purchasing their first independent homes. Jewelry companies are marketing to women to sell their engagement and wedding rings and make good use of the cash.
Mental health practitioners are also becoming certified divorce coaches, adding a new focus on divorce and the myriad adjustments across life’s spectrum that the challenge requires of their clients. They see the value in helping a client take action and not simply talk about the circumstances that brought them to the therapist’s office.
Hollywood has learned to celebrate divorce, with movies like It’s Complicated, Marriage Story, Carol, Blue Jasmine, Learning to Drive, and television shows like Divorce and The Girlfriend Guide to Divorce.
As the model of divorce has changed, women are less likely to experience the stigma, ostracization, and sense of shame that they have in the past.
Even women in cultures and communities where divorce is still stigmatized are discovering this message of freedom, possibility, and the value of self-worth by virtue of technology and the education available on the internet. As an example, Caldwell’s website, SAS for Women had more than 300,000 visitor sessions in the last year, which included women from all over the globe. “Even if a woman never connects with us directly,” explains Caldwell, “our website is a portal of power. Because our resources help a woman find herself, teach her a new language – and to take on her world. And if divorce is not viable, she still feels less alone.” (It’s interesting to note that U.S. women, by comparison to other women around the world, might be exceptionally fortunate in our marriage and divorce laws, but even we used to be viewed only as property or at best, second-class citizens, having won the right to vote just 101 years ago – within the life span of some of our grandmothers).
Caldwell was featured in a short film, “A Woman’s Journey: Rediscovering Yourself After Divorce”
in her own voice and local neighborhood, speaking about her marriage, her experience with divorce and how she came to her role as a divorce coach. Additionally, the film features some of New York’s leading female divorce professionals addressing the coaching model and how it serves women. The film reveals many things Caldwell herself has never spoken about publicly before.
Caldwell scaffolded her own divorce survival story with graduate work in diversity and gender studies as well as field experience in disaster response working with the Red Cross.
“My earlier work really gave me insight into what I see as portals of power. But often women don’t have the resources, the support, or the privileges to access them. We need to understand that first, and that we’re all deserving. But we need mentors to show us how to open those doors. This led me to coaching, helping a woman find her own voice, her own agency.”
By reframing her experience of divorce and her willingness to share openly, Caldwell has given other women permission and invitation to reframe their divorces, too. “It’s not that women didn’t come through divorce well in the past, they just weren’t celebrated.” Caldwell’s work has made it clear that women do have a village and there is power in the village. Says Caldwell, “Women do deserve advocates and a support system, they do deserve to be embraced, and because of this, women will never have to divorce the same way again.”
By Jennifer Bent, a freelance writer, former print journalist and feature writer living on the West Coast. Nicknamed ‘Verbose’ at a young age, she loves word craft but has to keep a short leash on her fondness for the profane. Jennifer enjoys compelling content and the liberty to write about interesting contributors and innovative ideas. Connect with Jennifer at email@example.com
Company Name: SAS for Women
Contact Person: Melanie Smith
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City: NEW YORK
Country: United States