The hallmark of a successful mediator and counsellor is when clients can finally feel good about themselves and take charge of their situation. As the impact of divorce is usually sudden, people going through a divorce sometimes feel disoriented and wonder what happened. Additionally, they worry what is going to happen to their children.
"As painful and stressful as it can be, divorce also provides many lessons and life skills that will empower you for the future," says Risa Ennis, a Toronto area family mediator and counsellor. "My clients come to mediation panicked about how they will survive emotionally, financially, spiritually, professionally, and personally," she says.
Helping clients establish solid coping tools, not just for their present challenge, but also for those that may occur up the road, is one of Risa's main goals as she is not without experience in this endeavor. "Most of all, my clients are very concerned about how they will maintain the bonds between themselves and their children.
"The thought of co-parenting only intensifies their despair in the beginning," adds Risa. "But through calm and reassurance, the issues are resolved and they start to feel confident and optimistic about moving forward and taking charge of their lives."
Of the synchronicity between her life experiences and her career path, Risa says simply: "This is my purpose in life." Her greatest satisfaction, she says, comes when she sees the transformation in her clients' lives. "I see how they've grown... how mediation not only gave them a document, but also really helped them successfully grieve [the loss of the relationship]."
And while many have returned to thank her for her guidance, Risa has always given the credit back to her clients. "They were the ones doing the work," she insists. "I was just their safe harbour."