Finding and Working from our Higher Selves

That’s the part of ourselves that’s more relaxed and less fearful. It’s where we make our best decisions creating outcomes that are highest and best for ourselves and the whole.   We find that part of ourselves by getting quiet, through prayer and meditation, exercise, being in nature, doing something we love.  Even thinking about these experiences helps to calm the emotions, opening us to intuition and higher forms of thought.  It’s important to take care of yourself. This goes for inside and outside of the negotiating space.  Taking care of yourself inside the negotiation space requires taking time before the meetings to figure out what is really important to you, what you must have from this process to move forward into your future as you envision it.  If you had those things, how would it feel? Sit with that and ideas will come showing how that picture will be made manifest in your life. We all do this – the professionals and the families.  It creates a safe container. We become mindful when we veer from our higher selves.  We remind each other. We are all in this together. We can keep the peace if we are all accountable.

High End Goals

We start with goals for the process and for yourselves.  What matters most to you? Take some time. Do this in a quiet setting with a quiet mind if at all possible.  

  • Why did you pick a peacemaking process? What are your goals for the process?
  • What is it you want for your future relationship together?
  • What do you want for the children? What is most important?
  • What are your values about money? What are your priorities?
  • How about personal and emotional goals? How do you want to feel, during the process and afterwards?
  • What are your concerns about future relationships with family, friends, work?
  • What do you need for self -care? Balance of life?
  • What does a positive future look like for you? How do you want to feel?

Negotiation Is Mindful Listening to Self and Other

Negotiation is shared listening.  That is, listening with attention and without judgment to the needs and goals for yourself and the other.  Attention generates new, fresh thinking. Mindfulness deepens the quality of attention.  This type of listening helps coherent intelligence unfold. Better ideas are the result.

We communicate with ourselves this way to unearth our dreams, wants, needs and what’s important to us.  We express this to the other in an environment of mutual respect met with uninterrupted attention. This is the ideal.  We can come close to it with intention, awareness and discipline. It’s not easy to do but will make the divorce easier and more fruitful.  It’s a primary requirement of a peaceful process.

Practices of connecting with the heart, meditation and other activities that balance the nervous system assist in making this type of communication possible.  Working with a divorce coach also helps build tolerance and gives practice in better communication to make negotiation at the table much more productive.

Brainstorming Options

When options are proposed, it’s important to consider the interests and needs of the other person as well as your own.  To do this takes courage and letting go. Relaxing into a process that is not intimidating is important. Flexibility to listen to and consider options you don’t think would work or don’t think you could agree to require moving into our higher selves with dignity, patience and understanding.  To listen and not react.


Making decisions requires a lot of the same skills.  Know that everything decided upon will not be comfortable.  Any combination of things that constitutes a settlement will require giving up something.  How flexible are you or can you be to accept what is possible or the best possible scenario for your family?  How strong have you made yourself through taking advantage of practices of the heart and other techniques that lead to acceptance?  Acknowledging that you have done the best you can under the circumstances and accepting the result will make a smoother transition moving forward.  It will be a continual practice of releasing and sharing control. How flexible are you or can you be? Longevity and happiness require flexibility, acceptance, forgiveness and letting go.


What does it take to commit to the result and work towards honoring your agreement with good faith, good nature and willingness to adjust to a new normal?  How much can you forgive the past and look forward to a future of cooperation? These are all skills that can be practiced and mastered. It’s what creates a better life for us anyway.  This is an opportunity to make life smoother for ourselves and others.

Do not hesitate to contact one of our Professionals at Bridges Collaborative Divorce Solutions.


Dona Cullen, Attorney at Law / Mediator
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
5200 Meadows Rd., Ste. 150
Lake Oswego, OR 97035

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Families often ask about the role of a child specialist in collaborative divorce cases and how this support is similar and dissimilar to therapy.  Following are some helpful guidelines to assist parents in choosing the best suited professional to support their child during a divorce.

A child specialist’s role is targeted to address the child’s needs during the divorce process.  It is clearly stated to the child that the conversations and experiences with me will focus on helping them express their thoughts and feelings about the divorce. Children understand that I’ll will be talking with their parents about the content of the sessions.  This work is limited to a recommended number of sessions. Therapy, on the other hand, involves building a relationship with the child over time to support in the development of a child’s sense of themselves and to help them navigate adjustments in multiple contexts, including family and friendship dynamics, as well as school experiences.

A child specialist will meet with parents to help them understand possible effects and behaviors during a divorce.  Parents will learn about developmental differences and coping styles a child may show at different ages.  Parents will be given helpful guidance about ways to support their child, highlighting the strengths and possible challenges that lie ahead. Parents are encouraged to make child centered decisions with each other and to minimize conflict and unpredictability during this stressful time.

Child Specialists do not make recommendations about parenting time or custody.  They do, however, consult with other collaborating professionals to assist them in supporting the family’s plan.

Children often feel a lack of control during the divorce, and by offering these specialized sessions, children are given a voice and a chance to express themselves in a safe and neutral place.


“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that’s mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we’re not alone.” ~Fred Rogers


Diane Gans, MA, LPC
Psychotherapist & Child Specialist
1609 Willamette Falls Dr.
West Linn, OR 97068

Diane’s Website
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As a Child Specialist, I have great compassion for the impact that the process of divorce has on families.  Parents are not only navigating their own loss and grief, but are intensely protective and concerned for their children’s well being and healing.  In many cases, parents have varied views about the effects on their children, one praising the resilience and happiness they observe and hear from them, while the other fears that irreparable damage has been done throughout the divorce.

When I meet with children, I often learn that it is somewhere in between. Children are not unaffected, but may deal with multiple emotions of guilt, sadness and anger that they are reluctant to share to protect their parent or prevent added conflict. However, they can explore and express these in therapy and/or with their parents as a part of the grieving process. while envisioning new and different ways of being in their family, moving forward.

Below are some helpful ideas written from a child’s perspective for parents to consider as they are creating new ways of interacting with each other and their children during divorce:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Here is a list of helpful ideas to help me manage the divorce:

  • Always remember I love both of you.
  • Even though you may not get along, I feel torn apart when you talk badly about the other parent.
  • Respect that I am grieving. This divorce is a loss for me and I may go through many stages as I adjust to our new family.
  • Create a special place for me at both homes, no matter how long I spend there. I might like a photo of my other parent and me to comfort me when I miss them.
  • Be careful of where you have adult conversations about the divorce and each other. Hearing about fighting and money create more worries for me- about myself and the safety of our family.
  • Ask me questions about my time away from you. Help me not to feel guilty about leaving you and having fun with the other parent.
  • Ask my other parent if you have questions about their new relationships or other private things. Secrets and spying make me feel anxious and disloyal.
  • Encourage me to call or text my other parent when I am with you. Help me schedule a routine at bedtime or before school.  This helps me stay connected to both of you.
  • Keep talking to each other about me! I feel very responsible about your reactions when I carry notes or messages between you.
  • Help me prepare for transitions with routines and special things that comfort me at both homes, such as a journal or favorite stuffed friend.
  • Agree on what rules I have at both homes. It will be much harder for me to fight about bedtime if both of you agree.
  • Attend my school and fun activities with me. It makes me happy that you are both sharing in something that is important to me.
  • Try to create as many opportunities for me to see you! Be flexible if my other parent has occasional requests to change our time together.
  • Protect me from your adult feelings. I am aware that you are often sad and mad too, and I feel very responsible to take care of you.
  • Find caring adults to support and listen to you. When you are healthy and happy, I feel happier too!

Thank you,

Your Loving Child


Diane Gans, MA, LPC
Psychotherapist & Child Specialist
1609 Willamette Falls Dr.
West Linn, OR 97068

Diane’s Website
Email Diane

Whether you’ve initiated your divorce or vice versa and you need a job now or down the road, “What job?” can seem as unclear as the nature of your projected earnings. The way you approach thinking and making decisions about jobs during or post divorce can dramatically affect how the process unfolds for you.

There can be many related questions and feelings that need settling and support as you seek the right employment and lifestyle. It’s a time of uncertainty, everything, or almost everything seems up in the air. In the middle of this most difficult life transition asking questions about what’s really important, brings us closer to understanding how to choose.

A building-block bridge.We need quality guidance. At the heart of career assessment or testing, interests and values clarification exercises offer powerful facilitation as we transition to a new life. To know what you really think and feel gives you something to navigate by in life and work life. It’s the basis for finding and creating meaningful direction. Give yourself time to reflect, drift off and space out on the subject of you.

Consider what you care about when it comes to pinning down what things should revolve around now, and next. It’s a way to pick up and begin writing the next chapter of “You.” How do you want to grow and relate to family, friends and community?

Look at your innate and developed skills as well, character strengths and learning goals, personality and work setting preferences. Before determining potential job and career matches, review your financial goals, need for benefits, employment location and commute tolerance. “It’s not rocket science,” but it is a complex process with more than a few moving parts, creating a meaningful life and work life post-divorce. It may also include co-parenting and caring for children, their needs and educational dreams.

Actively explore what matters job wise and discover a meaningful and doable path. Find what you can immerse yourself in because you care, and begin to feel that you matter again. Recovering from time with a partner who negated your interests and/or abilities is challenging. Chins up! Meeting people who share your passions is validating. Doing the thing you thought you might enjoy and do enjoy is intrinsically rewarding and requires no outside approval to sustain.

When you act on your deeper values you engage the highest part of yourself and nurture your inner self. Over time you’ll emerge stronger, happier and more confident as you build a life of meaning and purpose that also pays the bills.


Gail Jean Nicholson, MA, LPC
Divorce Coach / Personal and Career Counselor
1020 SW Taylor St., Ste. 550
Portland, OR 97205

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