Conscious Uncoupling


The phrase “conscious uncoupling” may be a relatively new term in most people’s vocabulary; however, the act of unconscious uncoupling itself is not such a new phenomenon.

In more recent news – most particularly celebrity headlines, the term “conscious uncoupling” has been thrown around to describe the separating of partnerships between two people. The big question that most people are asking, however, is just what does the term mean and why is it different to using the word “separate,” “break up,” or “divorce”?

Conscious uncoupling is a term that became most popular during 2014 through its use in celebrity media, but in truth it is a term that has been floating around the world of psychology since 2009 when it was coined by marriage therapist Katherine Woodward Thomas. The process of conscious uncoupling, according to Thomas’ newly conceived idea should involve couples who no longer wish to be together breaking up but doing so in respectful, kind and cooperative ways.

Since Thomas conceptualized the idea she has promoted the peaceful breakup concept, that targets personal growth through breakups as the ultimate goal, through online courses and video lectures. Thomas attempts to make individuals stronger from the breakup process to strengthen their future relationships, but she also focuses on making the breakup itself one that is easier to bear for both individuals as they make their transformation in to a new life.

So just how does conscious uncoupling compare to other terms and is it interchangeable with them?

Separating – when two people consciously uncouple they are effectively separating, however this term carries with it a negative connotation that many supporters of Thomas and her theories disagree with. Whether one agrees with the connotation of the word or not, the process of separation is what is at the core of conscious uncoupling and there is an undeniable link between these two terms.

Breaking up – again we run in to another phrase that carries with it a negative context, but again it has the same general meaning as the term “separating” and for that reason there is also an undeniable link between the two terms. It should be noted however that the term “breaking up” does tend to insinuate a separation with more tension and hostility as opposed to a couple that are working to separate harmoniously.

Divorce – divorce is a neutral word in terms of its relationship to the term “conscious uncoupling.” The tone of a divorce i.e.: whether it is an agreeable legal separation of a marriage or not, is set by the parties involved so for example a couple who decides to consciously uncouple may divorce as may a couple who decide to simply “break up.”

How does a couple pursue conscious uncoupling verses the more traditional type of break-up that is clouded by animosity? A couple that is looking to consciously uncouple is a couple who both decide that they would be better people individually if they uncoupled from one another however, the process does not always begin that way. The decision to consciously uncouple is often one that is made through the guidance of a marriage counselor or therapist who is able to guide the process through a conscious uncoupling course. The purpose of the therapist in the course is to help to assist in transforming the pain from the breaking up process to more positive growth in individual renewal. At the conclusion of the uncoupling course the couple should find that they are able to look to their single future with a more positive light and they are able to look back at their separation without placing blame.

So, who should pursue conscious uncoupling? Is it something that is only for the celebs or is it something that works for “normal” people too? As with any other psychological approach to obstacles in life one size does not fit all, but conscious uncoupling is certainly not limited to celebrity only success stories. This form of peaceful separation from a life partner can be successful for anyone who is genuinely devoted to a friendly and mutually beneficial separation that allows for mutual growth.