Online counselling helped her overcome the grief of divorce

Online counselling helped her overcome the grief of divorce

“I want a divorce.”

Those words uttered by 35-year-old Ava (not her real name) to her husband of five years were met with cold, stony silence. His answer came days later … through a phone call from his lawyer.

That was back in November 2022, when Ava decided to call it quits on her marriage after being subjected to six months of silent treatment by her spouse. She was unprepared for what would hit her next—overwhelming feelings of grief, regret, guilt and confusion triggered a mental breakdown.

At the lowest point in her life, Ava turned to the internet to seek professional help and stumbled upon CPH Online Counselling, an online counselling platform developed by the Community Psychology Hub for individuals facing marital, divorce and parenting challenges.

A lifeline of hope

Through the platform, Ava was connected to Dawn Yap, a qualified counsellor from the Strengthening Families Programme@Family Service Centre (MWS FAM@FSC).

Via live chat, Ava poured her heart out to Dawn. “Ava was feeling sad and depressed. She had been crying the whole day and was feeling overwhelmed and stuck in distressing emotions and thoughts on what had gone wrong in her marriage,” recalled Dawn.

Ava remembers the relief she felt at having found someone to share her struggles with as she was not ready to tell her family and friends about her divorce at that stage. “I felt that I wasn’t alone, and someone was there to work through my emotions and feelings with me,” she said.

Over the course of the next 10 months, online chat counselling would set Ava on the path to rebuilding her life after divorce.

To help Ava manage her emotions and heal from the grief of her failed marriage, she was introduced to journalling.

“Journalling has been empirically shown to be good for our physical, mental and emotional health. It helps us to clarify our thinking and process our emotions, and to deal with stressful or traumatic events,” said Dawn.

In Ava’s case, she needed to give herself space to work through her emotions. “Journalling helped Ava to name and acknowledge her feelings, to better control them—it’s the ‘name it to tame it’ strategy. It also helped her to concretise the lessons she could learn from the divorce, and that gave her a clearer direction of how to move forward,” said Dawn.

Ava added that journalling laid to rest her regret and doubts over her decision to divorce.

“I journalled about how I felt in this marriage and contemplated where it would lead had I chosen to continue in it. I realised that I had given my ex-husband many chances, but we were no longer aligned in this marriage,” she said.

Today, Ava looks forward to new relationships, and is ready to support others who are experiencing emotional distress.

Bridging the gap to mental wellness

Online counselling has broken down the barriers of time, space, cost and even social stigma, enabling easier access to mental health services.

It offers similar benefits as traditional face-to-face therapy, with the added convenience and privacy of getting the help and support one needs remotely.

Since its July 2022 launch, MWS FAM@FSC has counselled almost 500 families and individuals. Of these, about a quarter received counselling online.

Yeow Ming Zhen, Head of MWS FAM@FSC, said the anonymity that platforms like CPH Online Counselling offer is a major upside for those seeking mental healthcare.

“One of the common reasons people feel uncomfortable to seek help is that they may be experiencing a stigmatised issue like divorce, extra-marital affair or even family violence that causes them to feel ashamed. The anonymity offered by some online counselling platforms helps them to open up,” she said.

For Ava, the support that she received through online counselling has been so integral to her healing that she now wants to pay it forward, having signed up to be a volunteer counsellor to others struggling with mental health issues.

“I believe in leading by example,” she said. “When we want to be seen and heard, we should also be willing to listen and accept others for who they are.”

MWS Post-AGM 2023 Announcement: Board of Governance

The new Board of Governance of Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) for the period 2023-2025 was elected at the Annual General Meeting on 23 September 2023. We are pleased to welcome Eugene Toh as Chairperson as well as 11 other Board Members and 9 Co-opted Members who hail from different Methodist churches.

  • Mr Eugene Toh – Chairperson
  • Mr Lam Wei Choong – Vice-Chairperson
  • Ms Mak Wei Munn – Honorary Secretary
  • Mr Raymond Khoo – Asst Honorary Secretary
  • Mr Yeo Kai Eng – Honorary Treasurer
  • Ms Latha E K Mathew – Asst Honorary Treasurer
  • Mr Ronnie Gan – Asst Honorary Treasurer
  • Mr Paul Ong – Board Member
  • Ms Joanne Low – Board Member
  • Mr Soh Kok Leong – Board Member
  • Mr Yow Chi Mun – Board Member
  • Dr Dex Khor – Board Member
  • Mr Terence Wee – Co-opted Board Member
  • Ms Chew Kim Ling – Co-opted Board Member
  • Mr Philip Oh – Co-opted Board Member
  • Mr Melvin Dineshraj Balakrishnan – Co-opted Board Member
  • Dr Astrid Yeo – Co-opted Board Member
  • Rev Jason Phua – Co-opted Board Member (TRAC BOSC)
  • Mr Samuel Tay – Co-opted Board Member (CAC BOSC)
  • Mr Wilson Sampath – Co-opted Board Member (ETAC BOSC)
  • Dr Teo Li Bee – Co-opted Board Member (GC WSCS)
  • Mr Darius Chua – Representative, The Methodist Church in Singapore
  • Mr Guan Yeow Kwang – Secretary of the Trustees of The Methodist Church in Singapore

To find out more about MWS FAM@FSC’s work, please visit www.mws.sg.
To support our efforts to help those in need, please donate at mws.sg/give.

By the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) Communications Team. / Image courtesy of MWS