In the Yellow Chair with Mr Divorce Coach | Today’s Family Lawyer sits down with one of the UK’s first male divorce coaches who shares his unique perspective on divorce and family law.
To begin, tell us who Mr Divorce Coach is
I am Tom Nash, commonly known as Mr Divorce Coach, or simply “the guy in the yellow chair” to some.
I’ll begin with some context as to who I am and why I do the work I do, explaining the factors of my personal life that led me to revaluate a highly successful career in the City to help others going through their own emotional roller-coaster journey.
My parents divorced when I was three. I grew up with my dad in North London and Hertfordshire. He had full “custody” of me and my two sisters, an extremely rare thing for a Dad, let alone in 1986! I was raised in a “blended family”, although that phrase wasn’t around in the mid-80s. Contact with my bio-mother was almost zero from three to 16 years of age when I went looking for her myself. My parents haven’t spoken in over 35 years.
Fast-forward a few decades and I’m now the ex-husband of my own divorce, successful coparent with my ex-wife for our two beautiful boys, immensely proud step-father to my “bonus” kids (my partner’s two from her first marriage), and have my own very unique “blended family”.
To add a little interesting twist to the story, my ex-wife’s boyfriend is my girlfriend’s ex-husband! Yes, we essentially swapped.
We experienced a multitude of contentiousness, bitterness, and negative feelings for one another. But we found our way and now share those family moments like any other nuclear family does: Christmas, birthdays, school plays, a random Saturday with a bottle of wine.
So that’s me on a personal level. Now for the Mr Divorce Coach part.
It is my lived experience that redirected my life and career choices. Back in 2019 I founded Mr Divorce Coach and began on a path of assisting others to come through their journey and out the other side in the least emotionally scathed way. I remember sitting on the sofa with my partner, having recently qualified as a certified Coach, master practitioner in NLP, TimeLine Therapy and Hypnotherapy, when my partner says “you could use these skills to help others, particularly men, work through their emotional and practical challenges”.
A quick Google showed divorce coaching is a thing, but after three or four pages of scrolling we could not find one man in this vocation. As Dad and divorcee, it left us with no question that we should start a divorce coaching service that, whilst servicing clients of male, female, and non-binary genders, was at its centre a man talking about emotions, about feelings, about mindset, self-work, self-reflection, societal growth on a taboo topic. Someone had to do it, so why not me?
What is a divorce coach?
A divorce coach is not to be confused with a traditional talk therapist or counsellor. Therapy and counselling are brilliant resources that, in their traditional sense, are primarily focused on past experience: reflective and looking back to unpack everything.
Coaching is about the present and future focus. Yes, we need to understand the past events and experiences, but we are not sitting in them. I take that knowledge, that data, those impacts, and help clients move forwards. What are their options and their choices when they can’t see the wood for the trees?
The best way to simply describe it is as their “thinking partner”. But someone who is non-judgemental. Not connected or associated with the past events. Someone who will challenge them. Shift their thinking and perspective.
I refer to myself a blended Coach. I take the practices of core Coaching and mix them with psychology themed treatments like NLP (neuro linguistic programming) or CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy).
How is divorce coaching relevant to family lawyers and the divorce process?
I hear from family lawyers all the time – often several times per day – about their anguish with the thoughts of feeling like – and I quote – “an expensive box of tissues”.
The progressive and forward-thinking family lawyers I collaborate with recognise they are not trained in psychological, emotional, and subconscious support, no more than I am in any legal support. It is about us all working together to support those clients in need, but with each of our unique specialist set of skills to do so accordingly and correctly.
By effectively “outsourcing” the emotional and practical reality scenarios a client finds themselves in, you can save your time to be better spent elsewhere working on the legalities of progressing your client’s case.
I work with one family lawyer who refers to me as just that: her “emotional outsourcer”. What she gets back in return is a less emotively charged client, a more congruent and decisive client, who has unpacked everything in their head and feels confident to move forward.
Your clients will become better communicators with you as well as their ex. A great divorce coach, and one properly trained by an industry recognised diploma programme, can gift you a client you can and also want to work with, making your job easier to manage, thus allow you the opportunity to provide a better service and to a wider client base.
What can we expect from “In the Yellow Chair” moving forwards?
A lot! In The Yellow Chair is a column aiming to bridge the gap between different professionals in the family law world, legal and non-legal, by bringing understanding to one another. Collaboration is king.
We’ll be touching on a wide variety of topics such as:
- Step-Parenting & Blended Families
- Male Victims of Domestic Abuse – Spot the Signs
- Mental Health & Divorce
- Why Use a Divorce Coach? & Who?
- And much much more…
We also want to hear from readers with their questions about client situations, coaching advice, how to help family lawyers to be able to hit their optimum performance in their own daily lives, and anything else coaching-related!
In the Yellow Chair will return each month exclusively on Today’s Family Lawyer with new insights from Mr Divorce Coach.