Tuesday, December 28, 2021

On Winter, Slowing Down, & Making Decisions

Around this time of year I usually get a flurry of calls. People reaching out to talk – often for the first time saying the words out loud – “I’m thinking of getting a divorce…” I listen and answer their questions as best as I can – the legal stuff, the expectations, the fears – and also often what I hear is hesitation. Although I’m not sure I have the best answers for someone who is “on the fence,” actually, I think some hesitation regarding this major decision is a healthy approach.  Once that divorce ball gets rolling, especially in litigated cases, it grows and often takes on a course of its own. (I usually suggest that divorcing parents watch “Marriage Story”, which is a pretty accurate representation of what can happen.)

Divorce is a very personal decision and only two people know best – the divorcing spouses. Friends and relatives usually mean well; their approach is couched in love and concern. But only the two people in the relationship, those people intimately involved in every aspect of the marriage, are in the best position to make the decision: Should I stay or should I go? (Caveat: In situations of dangerous domestic violence, the victimized spouse often is unable to see and accept the facts and can need active assistance in walking away.)  When I talk with people about divorcing, I do not tell them what they “should” do – initiate divorce or stay – instead I listen and try to help them make this decision.

Over the years, paying attention to my clients, I’ve noticed that December brings an interesting mix of emotions.  Anticipation – the new year with new beginnings is just around the corner – and also a slowness, which seems akin to the human need for hibernation. At first glance these seems to be polarities – one is all about action and the other is all about rest. I have come to see the beautiful value in each of these reactions, and in their interplay.  If we can allow ourselves both of these experiences, I think we can connect with our true hearts and make good decisions about all of life’s choices, and truly, seeking a divorce is a big decision, worthy of our best efforts….

If you want to talk, and want someone neutral to listen, please feel free to contact me:

karen@karenjusterhecht.net or @divorcewellnessguru on Instagram or @ 510.210.3796. 


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Working through Conflict in the Zoom Room -- A New Era for Mediations


(Working Through Thick Paint)

“Zoom” – which before the last year mostly meant to “move fast” – has taken on a whole new meaning. Prior to the Pandemic, thirty to forty percent of my work with clients was via Zoom. When the Quarantine hit in full force, naturally, 100% of my work pivoted to Zoom. Video conferencing became one of the most talked about topics among colleagues. I attended several (Zoom) meetings about whether we “could” and “how to” hold Zoom mediations. I felt lucky – it was already a platform that I’d been using and I felt pretty comfortable at it.

               A year later, as we contemplate some sort of return to in-person work, I have been thinking about the look of my “new office” – virtual, in-person, a hybrid? Part of my cogitating has been about what face-to-face mediations looked like before the Quarantine, and also about how Zoom mediations have offered different, useful, perspectives.  I haven’t done an empirical study (after all, I’m a mediator, not a scientific researcher) but based on anecdotal observations, what I have noticed is that when I’m helping people work through some difficult conflicts, when emotions are very high, working in the Zoom Room actually seems to be more effective than working face-to-face in my (lovely) office setting. When Zooming from different rooms – brought magically together through the video conferencing platform – in the safety and comfort of their own spaces, people seem to be able to access their emotions much easier than if the “source of the conflict” is sitting three feet away from them, breathing the same air, taking up the same space. The distance afforded by the Zoom Room seems to give people greater tolerance for the emotional spikes that are inevitable – both for the other person and in themselves. I have noticed that as difficult emotional conversations are unfolding, people in the Zoom Room seem to be able to breathe and hear the words which the other person is speaking, instead of simply reacting to the words (which is of course a very common human behavior). Perhaps that nanosecond delay in the video conferencing software provides some literal breathing room, which helps defuse emotional tensions….

               I’m still evaluating what the “post-Pandemic” reality of my mediation practice will look like. Of course, I will be taking into account the prevailing public health recommendations (which at this point are not wholly embracing fully unrestricted in-person meetings).  I am going to also be very mindful of how video conferencing might actually offer something better than in-person, old style, mediations. At the very least, I think that video mediations have provided an effective – unexpected – benefit that can be very helpful to clients. And, as this last year living through the Pandemic has taught us in no uncertain terms…the future is hard to predict and is wide open with possibilities….

If you have any questions about how mediation might work in your situation, please reach out to me: karen@karenjusterhecht.net or 510.210.3796…and in the meantime, I hope that you are staying well and feeling hopeful about your future!


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

 A Quick Update

                 2021, it seems, started off with quite a whoosh – it’s hard to believe that we’re nearly halfway through January already! I am planning a nice new year’s post before January slips totally away…in the meantime, a really brief greeting to say happy new year and, last week I gave my first-ever podcast interview, discussing all things mediation with Ryan Lockhart at McKenna Brink Signorotti.  I really enjoyed our conversation and hope that I shed some light about mediation. You can find the interview at this link, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Of course, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me @ 510.210.3796 or karen@karenjusterhecht.net .

               Happy 2021 and I hope to be back here soon with some thoughts about divorce and the new year!