In A Study in Scarlet, we are introduced to one of the greatest teams in all of fiction. Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are thrown together by the prosaic need to find a flatmate. Their relationship is one which endures despite their differences and is fuelled by their deep love for each other. Over the years, their friendship is strained, by Holmes' "death" and by Watson's marriage, and yet they remain bonded.
Without doubt, the support of Watson enables Holmes to meet his full potential. Rather than the stock image of Watson as a buffoon, in the books he is revealed as a decent and humane man of action and learning. He brings his skills as a doctor, and his empathy and kindness to assist Holmes. This support and his care for Holmes is a key part of the reason we keep reading and watching these stories.
In conflict, people often have to build their own support network. This may be an existing network of friends and family, a tribe. Sometimes it involves working with a counsellor or psychologist. When working with people in mediation, it is helpful for me to understand what resources are available to them. For parties in family mediation, separation and divorce is one of the most stressful events a person can experience. I often suggest to parties to work with a professional.
There are many benefits to working with a professional. They are able to put what you are experiencing into context. It can feel very isolating to separate and divorce. A counsellor or psychologist (listen to my podcast about working with a psychologist with Dr Monica Borschel) can help a party to understand they are not alone in how they feel. The emotions that people experience in separation can be confusing, there may be anger, bitterness, betrayal or even ambivalence about the other person. Building a framework to understand these feelings can help parties to process them.
When working in mediation, parties can also benefit from skills and tools that counsellors and psychologists can suggest and develop. Every little bit of help counts.
If the great Sherlock Holmes can reach out a hand for help, we would be wise to follow his lead.