Divorce Coach - Danielle Barbereau

In this episode Tamsin is joined by divorce coach Danielle Barbereau. Danielle talks about how she helps clients who are struggling in the initial stages of divorce to move to a place where they can see a future life after divorce.

Danielle Barbereau is a highly rated and respected divorce coach, speaker and author. For 10 years, she has worked exclusively with people who are going through a relationship breakup, providing emotional support during divorce and separation, helping them recover more quickly and forge a happier future. She also helps people decide whether to stay in their relationship, or whether the time has come to move on.

She says: ‘I absolutely love my work. I feel privileged to be able to help people during desperate times. I have been through the experience of a breakup myself and remember how it feels. To see people move, often in a relatively short space of time, from a place of heartbreak and desperation to one of hope and strength is positively life affirming.’

Director of Financial Planning and Chartered Financial Planner Tamsin Caine has a strong background of over 15 years within the financial services profession. She began Smart Divorce following her own experience with divorce; she now advises people in the same situation as she once was, enabling them to take back control of their life and finances. Smart Divorce website is www.smartdivorce.co.uk.

If you need any help with sorting your finances out during your divorce, please drop Tamsin an email to tamsin@smartdivorce.co.uk. xxx


(The transcript has been created by an AI, apologies for any mistakes)

Tamsin Caine 0:06
Hello and welcome to the smart divorce podcast. This podcast is for you if you're thinking of separating already separated or going through divorce. My name is Tamsin Caine and I'm a Chartered Financial Planner will speak to some fantastic specialists who can help you to get through your divorce hopefully amicably and start your new chapter positively. Now over to today's guest. In today's episode of the smart divorce podcast, I've been joined by Danielle Barbara. Danielle talks about her work as a divorce coach, trying to help people to deal with the fear of being alone. bewilderment, grief and humiliation. Her strapline this afternoon was to help people to divorce with dignity, which is something I love. I'll hand you over to my podcast with Danielle Barbara. I hope you enjoy it.

Hi, and welcome to the smart divorce podcasts. I'm delighted to be joined this afternoon by Danielle Barbara. Danielle is an incredibly well known divorce coach in the UK. I met her we think it was almost two years ago at the Northern Lights conference, which is a special conference for dispute resolution and, and various people from all sorts of walks of life getting together and trying to help couples to separate and divorce amicably. Danielle, welcome.

Unknown Speaker 1:44
Thank you for having me dancing.

Tamsin Caine 1:46
I'm absolutely delighted, I was very happy that you agreed to record this for me today. Would you like to just give a brief introduction of of yourself and what you do,

Danielle Barbereau 1:57
of course. So my name is Danielle, Daniel Babu. Not to Northern name and not an English name. I'm French, as you can probably hear, but I've been in this country for decades, initially working in education in higher education. But in the last 10 years, I've been a divorce coach.

And I've worked exclusively with people going through a relationship breakup. So my work is to give them support during times of very, very difficult for them divorce and separation. And I hope to help them to recover quicker and move on to something better, sometime. So I help people decide whether they should stay in a relationship or quit today. And I do move and move have that kind of work actually. Otherwise, on the personal side, I'm a mother, grand mother. And I met my husband in my late 50s married in my 60s, which shows that there is hope at any stage in life.

Tamsin Caine 3:14
Absolutely. And you've been through divorce yourself as well, haven't you? I have

Danielle Barbereau 3:20
a very long time ago, it was over 25 years ago now. So I do remember how it is It was a difficult one. And I do remember that also believes that too. In some ways divorce changes you, you start to understand many things that maybe you are taken for granted. I certainly became less judgmental. I was much more interested in what makes people tick. But nevertheless, it's a very long time ago. So I don't think that the experience really influences my work.

Tamsin Caine 4:00
No, okay. That's interesting. So a lot of people listening won't have heard of divorce coaches or understand what they actually do. Could you talk us through maybe the process when you first meet a client,

Danielle Barbereau 4:16
it is a new profession, you are right. And one thing you said that to coaching is different to counselling. A lot of my clients have had counselling, which seems to be tricky, you know, longer long process. What I do is very different. It's very impactful. I meet clients at their lowest, they may have been left by somebody or they are full of guilt because their marriage is over. And I hate them to get better. And it's very, very rare that I see people more than five times for example. So coaching is very Simple it's about asking the right questions, which would help people disentangle confusion, or even fear. So I ask questions. And these questions, help clients to see where they are, and what I really want. He says people move on from the pain and do stop being so confused, so hurt and start taking charge of their life again, because once he push happens when you go through a breakup or any loss section, is a feeling of loss of control of your life. So I help them regain that, and give them ways to survive and cook because I've had hundreds of clients so I knew what helps people and what doesn't. I hadn't even make sense of what has happened. Because it is so enormous, so unbelievable for them. Sometimes they keep saying I can't believe it. And also deal with damaging emotions such as jealousy, wishes to have revenge wishes to badmouth the other parent, because what I want to serve my clients move forward to a better life. And I'm proud to say that this is the case, when I speak to my clients, several years down the line, they always tell me, you know, how happy they are now that they have moved to a better life. And that, to me, is solely about the history of divorce. You know, all my clients are good, divorced. But every story is different. And knowing that they've gone to something better with their life, and I've had a little role to play in this. it's mind blowing for me, I I cannot tell you how much I love it.

Tamsin Caine 7:02
Well, that's really lovely. It's almost like you're helping to be a catalyst from moving from one chapter to the next chapter in these people's lives. Would that be fair to say?

Danielle Barbereau 7:15
I think that's a lovely way of saying it. Because you know, when emotions, especially these kinds of emotion, they are so full, that people no longer really know what to do and what they think. And so it's very much dance, but I'm used to it. I know where to go and know what questions to ask to really say, yeah, disentangle really. And that's it. catalysts are nasty stuff.

Tamsin Caine 7:45
I think we, we often talk about, to our divorcing clients about when they start to think about the next chapter and think about the things that they want to do with their lives, that there's a real opportunity to be a bit selfish. And it might be the first time they've ever been in a position where they're making all the decisions for themselves, if they've come out of a marriage, where they do the spouse was the decision maker, is that something that you've come across?

Danielle Barbereau 8:15
Oh, absolutely. And this is, I believe, in that hugely, by the way, that this, you know, being free to do something to make choices. And it's extremely important and exciting in some ways. At the same time, it's very scary for people. And maybe I would say women, older women have been married for a very long time. Some of them have almost forgotten who they really are, as a couple, or, you know, out of mother. And it's very, very important, but also transforming to make them think about who are you What do you want, and when they realise they can make those decisions. It brings huge transformations. And I really like that, but it's not as easy as it sounds,

Tamsin Caine 9:15
not in any way. And it takes it takes a lot of time. And it takes a lot of courage for people to to realise that they've they've got the opportunity to design a new life the way that they want it is is a way I I like to look at it. But as you say, that can be scary in its own right context.

Danielle Barbereau 9:35
Absolutely. Especially as they look at it, as you know, inand a lack of something, you know, I'm no longer in a couple. I'm no longer you know, in that circle of friends or whatever, so they see what they've lost. And there's such a huge gap in their life. You know, a lot of them think that each Dion's They never be happy again that they never find somebody else. When it's actually it's simply the end of life as they knew it. I say simply, it's not simple. It's what it is. And they have an opportunity. And they usually quit. And I think that's a major role of the course is to show them that they are possibilities in the future. And it's not all gloomy. But I don't minimise, you know, pain. And you're sending all forms of things, and you lost our home. Very, very hard to bear. But actually, they are transformative as well. I remember my first ever clients, your can you forget somebody like that. And she was the head of a law firm, and that I was asked to meet her. So when you say, could you meet my friend, the husband has left, we don't know what to do. And I remember this woman opened the door. And she was in a dressing gown in the middle of the afternoon, and I'm super what's going on here. And she said she had no inner she, she was so lost. So ask that you get tricky. And then I remember, a first sentence to me was, I had a good marriage, and he left. And so that was really interesting. what she meant was actually not good at all. I, I asked two questions. You know, when was the last time you said something nice to you in front of somebody else? When did you feel safe in this marriage, and she couldn't remember. So it was not a good marriage. But she could not conceive a life without being married. And that was a huge lesson. For me, it was a huge feeling of loss. And incidentally, when I left that to clients, I remember thinking, I want to do nothing else. And that was nearly 10 years ago, and I have done nothing else I want to do nothing is steal each time each time. I leave a client I think, ah, I love this.

Tamsin Caine 12:15
Yeah, it's it's fantastic to be able to watch a client's transformation from the first time you meet them being upset and sad and grieving for the for the loss because because that's what divorces it's it's just another form of grief, isn't it? And see that transformation from them, going from there to, to coming out of it the other side in and seeing some positivity and seeing the way that they're planning things for their future. It's a great feeling, isn't it? Oh,

Danielle Barbereau 12:53
it's it's absolutely wonderful. And you know, when I see clients years later, nobody really would like to go back to the past, you know, they really have moved on. And their life is happier. There's absolutely no doubt about it. Yeah,

Tamsin Caine 13:11
I think, I think sometimes it's, we do things on it. And not just in marriage. But in life. I think we do things out of habit, and fear of change. And we assume that we're happy because that's what we've always done and that, therefore that must be the best thing. But quite often, big changes can be can be the catalyst to even greater happiness currently,

Danielle Barbereau 13:33
is exactly the case. And I really believe that nobody should stay in something when they are not happy. You know, they deserve happiness. But they should also be aware, you know, it's not enough to settle it's not enough to be in a lacklustre relationship, and what to divorce does, it's a kind of a shock to the system, you know, suddenly there's no choice. You have to, to think about what comes next. And only ever painful it is at the time. It's incredibly positive. And we only have one life, and I said huge history and it sounds trite. But it's actually true. And it's never never too late.

Tamsin Caine 14:19
Now, I think you're absolutely right. We do however try it may sound we do only have one life and and you've you need to make the most of it and not waste, you know, not waste any time if at all possible. common issues that that people come to you with in the first place, even if they're not, we often find that people come to talk to us about one issue, but actually the underlying issue is something something different. Do you have common issues that people approach you with? And do you find the same thing about it not necessarily being the underlying issue that that you need to help them to deal with

Danielle Barbereau 15:01
less so than other professionals that with imaging simply because most of my clients are referred to me by the professionals such as solicitors, or financial advisors, or people who have clients going through a divorce, or who are exploring their options, so I knew what the situation is. But in terms of commonality, common worry, well, a financial worries, for example, are huge. The fear of being on their home also is enormous. And you know, they no longer know how to do that. And also, if they have children, even adult children, and especially adult children, this is very difficult to handle. So I know that these are areas we need to, to address. And if somebody has made the decision to enter a relationship, I guarantee that they will feel guilty about it. But in all cases, like all cases of loss, there is fear, to some extent, shame and embarrassment. So all these things that I need to deal with, but I'm pretty much there when I meet there, because I knew that that is what they are going through. So slightly different. You may be somebody saying,

Unknown Speaker 16:30
you know,

Danielle Barbereau 16:31
I don't know I want to real return and then happen to say that they I know not very happy relationship. When they get them they are in crisis, pretty much. Yeah, no, absolutely.

Tamsin Caine 16:43
And what advice would you give to somebody who was at the beginning of their degree divorce journey, whether it whether it's the person who made the decision to leave, or the person who's, I guess, having it done to them, if it's a, if it's not a mutual decision,

Danielle Barbereau 17:02
both of which are equally difficult for clients, with time of learning learned that, whether you've been left behind, or whether you are the person who is leaving, and that stuff, they are exactly the same emotions informs you of guilt, to feel the future, all the same. My advice, in any case, is to make informed decisions. I mean, this is so important. So to go into your solicitor to know where they would stand, or, you know, what you've heard, the person who is leaving says, you'd have nothing you'd be destitute, you know, all this kind of thing gets information from associator. And also getting for the financial information. Because you it's very difficult to make decisions without this. And when you know, that's the kind of a framework, you know what to do next. It's easier. I think what is really scary, is not knowing, you know, that tension does fear, because people think, oh, we have no, I will not have enough to pay the bills, I mean, but that's simply not true. You just need a professional to guide you through this. And in some ways, and the third arm, you know, after the service sector, the financial advisor, the coach is somebody who really hate the emotions. And I think dealing with all of this, we mean that a divorce should be less traumatic. And hopefully, that people give us better. So for example, children and it could be graduations, weddings, and all sorts of things. So it's much better to do it, you know, in a good way than not, but I think that starts with the proper information to do it. Yeah, I

Tamsin Caine 18:58
think Yeah, absolutely. Right. And as I said before, that people tend to come to you via a solicitor or financial advisor that is recommended that they speak to you. Just that tend to be near the beginning of the process, or are the things start have things started to be sorted out by the time that you're contacted and brought in?

Danielle Barbereau 19:22
I tend to work with the beginning of the problem. My client typically has been in a relationship for a very long time. Maybe you don't see the breakup coming or is feeling so geeky to have entity. And and it's these feelings at the beginning. Did I do the right thing? Or how do I survive? This is where I work and I love doing that I work. You know, it is it has been described to me as a tsunami of emotions and I think that's a pretty good description.

Unknown Speaker 19:57
Yeah, ahead. You know,

Danielle Barbereau 20:04
everybody remembers the situation, everybody remembers the sentence, which was sent to them either and giving you or, you know, everybody remembers that it's incredibly traumatic, and follows. Feelings of people are bewildered and do not know what to do. And this is where I like to start working. So it's very rare, I get people who have overcome this first few weeks and months. At that point, my work is not as necessary, some people, I feel it seems fester, and the SOC, don't call me for example, you say, remain very bitter years later, you know, that should not be the case. Again, it's about living your life. You know, if you constantly live your life, by default, you do and you have identities to be that victim, that person was good divorce is not a happy way of living at all. But this is a minute but of my work, most of my work is, and this bewilderment is the best word I can think of on that, and people not knowing what to do, and being really going through pain, and you compare the trees, and, you know, the pain of you feel when somebody has died. And I think that's really good comparison. Sometimes they even think it's worse. Because, you know, when you become a widow over we do, people will offer you sympathy is the understand what it is like, people get that, but when you've been left behind, is very different, because you're also dealing with shame, you know, embarrassment of being left for somebody else. And humiliation as well, very often. And these are very difficult emotions to deal with. And they have to be worked through, there's no question about it. Yeah, I

Tamsin Caine 22:21
think you're absolutely right. And I think even on the other side, as well, that if you've been the person who's decided to end the marriage, you'll have the guilt side of it. But people around looking in might be thinking, well, they're not deserving of my sympathy as as if they weren't going to go through the same sort of grief, but it doesn't matter does it? Which whichever side you're on, you still go through that.

Danielle Barbereau 22:50
He doesn't matter. And I still need to meet somebody we take a decision to end a non relationship like, is that really doesn't exist. So you've come to this because you've almost been cornered into it sometimes. Or because you realise that this is going nowhere. And that all you do is, is toxic, you're hurting each other. There's no happiness. And sometimes it takes courage to just said, you know, what, enough is enough. But as you say, then you have to deal with, you know, relatives, parents who blame you, because you're the one who ended it. And yes, less sympathy, no doubt about that. And that is tough. Because I would be ready to say that you have no choice, you know, when you make a decision like that?

Tamsin Caine 23:44
Yeah, absolutely. We've come across a number of people while recording these podcasts who've said that they've had friends who've also negatively impacted on the divorce by getting involved or suggesting that the couple hadn't tried hard enough. And I've never come across a couple who haven't tried hard enough before deciding to go through it. You've come across

Unknown Speaker 24:14
absolutely true.

Unknown Speaker 24:16
I know you're

Danielle Barbereau 24:16
speaking about one of my really, you know, bugs. I hate this, you know, the relatives who are well meaning, but to think that they have the right to judge, criticise, see, you have not tried enough. I mean, this is so bad. If you ever catch yourself wanting to say a sentence like that, stop. It is so awful is bad enough to deal with things without having to be at the receiving end of that. And no, nobody, nobody makes those decisions lightly. Sometimes I speak to clients about boundaries, you know, sometimes you have to say To people stand back, because you're not hating me. So boundaries are very important. But I've marvelled at people who think that they have the right to interfere, because you people from the outside never know, what is really going on in a relationship.

Tamsin Caine 25:21
Now, you're absolutely right, you, you, you see the perfect marriages on Facebook all the time. And and nobody, you only see what people want to see you don't see under the bonnet of what's actually going on in that relationship. And I think even passing comment on on somebody else's marriage is is a dangerous situation, and particularly when they're going through divorce. It's just nothing to do with anybody apart from those two people.

Danielle Barbereau 25:52
Yeah, and actually is this that people who think that the they are doing the right thing by criticising? Actually, this is the biggest betrayal, you know, in a relationship in marriage, which ends You seem to be the relatives or criticise or who have nothing to do with you anymore. That is a huge betrayal. And I find that too difficult for clients, you know, some of their friends are going to abandon them. And it's shocking. The other side of that is that, you know, my clients, we make new friends were incredibly supportive. But these relationships are the parents in lieu, criticise you. This is a huge betrayal. Yeah, yes.

Tamsin Caine 26:46
It's it's a big problem, isn't it? So, when we met, we met at, as I said, at the beginning at the Northern Lights conference, which was talking about Collaborative Law and using using collaborative Collaborative Law to, to divorce now. And there you said at the time that you do some work as part of that process. Could you explain just how that might work?

Danielle Barbereau 27:13
Yes, certainly festival. I'm a great believer that as much as possible, keep things, you know, contain be diverse dignity, basically, the you know, the cus court, you know, that is an absolute nonsense. Nobody, nobody wants to be at court. It's so full, and it can, it's costly. It costs so much money. And you can go in all sorts of directions that you had not expected. I mean, recently, we've seen things with Johnny Depp. And, you know, what is the dignity in that? So I'm absolutely convinced that the more dignity there is, and respect in a breakup, the better. And this idea of collaborative divorce is something that has been existing for quite a while to avoid putting blame, you know, nobody really is to blame at the end. So the lawyers were quite frustrated that even when it comes to wanting to pass, amicably, they had to throw blame at each other in order to get to divorce. And sometimes the judge would think there was not enough blame, I mean, hopefully start. So for a long time, they try to go forward, no blame divorce. But what they have done in the last few years of their collaborative divorces, whereby the two solicitors sit with the two clients from the table and try to resolve issues, such as access to children money, this other usually the two big ones, you know, that you get to an agreement, and an agreement like this is valid in the eyes of the law. So a lot of clients realise that this is a very good way of divorcing it's also cheaper, frankly, but also it enables respect, and later these people you can meet at their children's wedding without a crisis, you know, nevertheless, so if we're willing to end they are setting intention they are sometimes is difficult and My ruling that was to be the fifth person around the table, and to try to keep you know, the process smooth. So if I saw, for example, that somebody is getting upset, or we still need to beat, you know, not very truth food, and that's going to cause problems down the line. Then I had to passivity to intervene and maybe Take a client out of the room and remind them of the benefits of collaborative divorce. So I have sat in quite a few cases like that. And I think it has been positive for clients. But the bottom line for me is that as much as possible, none of you see the exception exceptions, for example, in with violent relationships, but as much as possible, dignity, a gruesome way, you know, divorce.

Tamsin Caine 30:34
Now, I think you're absolutely right. And I totally agree,

Unknown Speaker 30:37
I love what you said, divorce

Tamsin Caine 30:40
with dignity, what I what a brilliant phrase. So by that, do I take it that no fault divorce that is has currently received Royal Assent and we're just waiting for the law to come into place, which looks like it will be in about 12 months time. And you consider that a good thing?

Danielle Barbereau 31:01
I certainly consider that a good thing. Obviously, these are the lawyers who have managed to, you know, argue for this successfully, it has nothing to do with my work. But working with clients in distress, I knew that the most more you can minimise antagonism, you know, address. So your ways to approach a divorce, the better it is, I see no disadvantage, as long as there is no violence or coercion or things like that. But I see no disadvantage. Sometimes it's simply that relationships run their course, you know, we live older with married for a long time, or sometimes it's because we realise this is a mistake. And the two partners would be better off going in different directions. Why introduce an element of blame that?

Tamsin Caine 32:07
I completely agree. And although similarly, it impacts the lawyers and not not I work directly. I may mean to help people to sort their finances out amicably. And if one or other has read some horrible statements about the things that that they have done that I do think that causes problems, although I do know lawyers, do everything in their power to try and make those, those statements of accusation, if you like, as tempered as possible in it. And, you know, don't try not to list huge numbers of things that the other side has done. It's still hurtful, isn't it?

Danielle Barbereau 32:53
You know, you read something about yourself getting accused of something, it's in the open, you know, it's really difficult from that then to try to reach an agreement. So, you know, avoiding this kind of, it's completely unhelpful to this format that each other when the couple have decided that it's better to go their own way. And people reach that decision. I mean, you're my first time in two I mentioned. Very quickly, she realised that actually, the marriage was dead. So then, bizarrely, she was the one who filed for divorce. And so there should be no shame in that. I think it's quite mature to realise that, you know, Aki, at one time just loved each other, and now you don't, so it's respectful and it's better for everybody, and certainly for the children to divorce, you know, people who stay together for the sake of the children, no Hanky Panky, frankly, as a divorce coach, I want to challenge that, because this is not the reason to stay. And I believe that children get really into in that situation,

Tamsin Caine 34:06
you know, in people who've got divorced as when their parents were when they were adults, rather, the impact on them is horrendous and to to wait until your children are adults is no is no way it doesn't help it doesn't make anything easier later on. In fact, if anything, it makes the boundaries even more blurred and complicated and, and a lot more feelings from those adult children as well and come into the into the picture.

Danielle Barbereau 34:38
Absolutely. Absolutely certain loving work again with hundreds of clients, that adult children or you know, children just gone to university and then in their 20s and later, are the most affected. Little ones will understand this mommy's house daddy's house very quickly. It's not good. To be an issue, but for young adults, their life is changing. They're going to university, they're meeting people who may be looking for a job, all sorts of things happen. The one constant in their life is home with two parents. So the moment they lose that, it's incredibly difficult. And I couldn't agree more with you. These are the most painful circumstances. And as much as possible, people should have to wait. And besides, you know, this credit children with intelligence, so they know when their parents are getting home,

Tamsin Caine 35:38
of course to do Absolutely. Thank you. Danielle, have you got anything that you'd like to add before we wrap up?

Danielle Barbereau 35:47
No, it was an absolute pleasure to speak with you. The only thing that we mentioned is that I have written a book about splitting up and it's called after the split. It's my second edition now. So they are locked off. It's meant to be a guide for people who are going through these difficult times. So he's very sharp to the point and types of people through their belief. So this is a shameless plug for my book.

Tamsin Caine 36:20
Sorry, we're quite happy with shameless plugs. That's fine. And if anybody does want to get in touch with you, we'll have your contact details in the notes of the show, and how to get hold of your book if anybody would like to do that. Thank you so much for joining me this afternoon. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to

Unknown Speaker 36:40
you the pleasure for me to Tenzin Thank you.

Tamsin Caine 36:48
Thank you for listening to this smart divorce podcast. If you'd like details of our guests today or of myself so you can get in touch. Please check out the programme notes. Many thanks. See you again soon.

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