Dr. Steven Lazarus is a Psychologist with a specialty in Divorce. This site is a resource for adults and parents going through a divorce. It focuses on effective ways to heal from a divorce and how to help children during a divorce. Dr. Lazarus is a Psychologist with a specialty in divorce. His office is located in Littleton, CO.

About half of marriages end in divorce, which should be keeping couple’s counselors in Highlands Ranch busier than ever. But a surprising number of people don’t bother with this step, or wonder if it can help at all. Should you work with a couple’s therapist before officially separating or divorcing your partner? Keep reading to see why professional marital or couple’s counseling can benefit your family in most situations.

Couple’s Therapy Before Deciding to Divorce

If you and your partner aren’t seeing eye to eye, or if the same issues keep arising, you may benefit from working with a couple’s therapist. This is especially true if one or both partners aren’t sure what to do—have you looked at your partner and wondered “Should we get a divorce? Would I be happier separating from my partner? Would it be better for the kids if we split up?” When you have these questions, starting with marital therapy is a good idea. This helps both partners to communicate their needs and feelings, solve problems, and determine if they really want to separate, or if they just need tools to make their relationship work better.

If We’ve Decided to Separate, Why Should We Work With A Couples or Family Therapist

For some couples, the decision to separate has already been made. So why bother with a couples or family therapist? For those without children, working with a therapist through your divorce can help you to process your own feelings, understand your partner, and make the process more smooth. Some people stay amicable after divorce, especially when there are shared family and friends. For those with young children living at home, working with a family therapist is even more important. While you may not be “together” any longer, you’re stuck as co-parents—at least until your child is 18, but more likely, throughout their life. Set the stage now for cooperative parent-teacher conferences, friendly graduation parties, and one day, happy family gatherings with the next generation. A psychologist in Highlands Ranch can help you navigate these multiple roles with divorce recovery therapy.

Are There Any Times When We Should Skip Therapy Before Divorce?

Like most things in life, there are exceptions to every rule. Some relationships cannot and should not be saved—if you and your partner are abusive to one another or your shared children, it is of utmost importance for everyone to stay safe. Prolonging the separation or hoping for a “miracle” is not the role of marital therapy. Likewise, if one person has effectively “left” the relationship already, such as with repeated infidelity, destructive substance abuse, or physical distance (i.e., moving out of state), it is often better for parties to separate and focus on their mental health. Finally, if you and your partner get along well, communicate effectively, and have a plan for the future and shared children, but just really don’t want to be married, you can likely handle the separation on your own. However, if you need help throughout the process, keep in mind that skilled professionals are available.

Don’t make divorce or separation harder than it has to be—work with an experienced couple’s therapist in Highlands Ranch to improve your marriage, understand each other’s needs, or plan for a successful divorce.


Do other people stomp all over your boundaries? Couples therapists in Highlands Ranch help lots of couples and individuals in their relationships, and the issue of “setting boundaries” comes up frequently. Are you setting boundaries effectively? Here’s a hint: they need to start on your side. Keep reading to see how to set—and maintain—the best boundaries.

Psychologists in Highlands Ranch Advise: Boundaries Go Both Ways

When you close your curtains, you are setting a boundary. The neighbors can no longer peek in, and the sunlight no longer makes that annoying glare on the TV screen. But there is another boundary as well—you can no longer peek out, and you might miss the beautiful sunset if you don’t pay attention. Relationship boundaries work the same way, and also involve some give and take. Many people find that they “can’t keep boundaries” because they don’t like those downsides! When considering your personal boundaries, don’t forget to think about the drawbacks. For example, if you set a boundary that you just want to be left alone and never interrupted in the shower, you may miss spontaneous, romantic advances that you used to enjoy.

Couple’s Counselors in Highlands Ranch Help You Identify Your Need for Boundaries

Do you ever feel taken advantage of, walked all over, unheard, or just so annoyed at everyone around you for reasons you can’t quite understand? Often, these are signs that you are not setting or enforcing boundaries correctly. For example, if you find yourself frustrated that your partner is constantly unloading work stress on you, but never seems to listen to your work rants, you may need to set a boundary around this interaction—something as simple as realizing “I need as much time to vent about my job as you do.” You need to have self-awareness to set boundaries so you know what’s really bothering you and how to make it stop.

Clear Communication Predicts Effective Boundaries

Once you’ve worked with a therapist in Highlands Ranch to identify the boundaries you’d like to set, it’s time to bring them to life and share them with your partner. How you communicate these needs is just as important as setting them! Ideally, you communicate your boundaries in advance, when everyone is calm and in a good mood. Shouting “get out of my bathroom now!” or “stop talking about your miserable job right now!” isn’t going to get you very far—in fact, that will likely cause more conflict. Instead, find a calm, quiet place, and use the classic “I feel” statements to help your partner understand your needs.

Finally, keep in mind that boundaries can change from person to person, from situation to situation, and as you and your partner age, mature, and change. If you need help identifying, maintaining, or communicating boundaries in your relationship, call a couple’s counselor in Highlands Ranch for help!

For many couples in Highlands Ranch, the lockdown phase of the COVID-19 pandemic is slowly ending. Businesses are opening, traffic is getting backed up, and everyday life is starting to become recognizable again. But have you and your partner come out of the quarantine a little less close? Many couples who seek couple’s therapy in Highlands Ranch report that the stress of working from home, homeschooling kids, not being able to meet with friends, and just being stuck together all the time has taken a major toll on their marriage. Fortunately, these tools can help you reset and reconnect!

Get Some Space—Alone

Now that you can leave the house… do! Certainly, you love your partner, but spending too much time together can make anyone wish they had more distance. If you’re comfortable, call up friends to reconnect, go for a jog, or enjoy an outdoor recreation activity. These not only get you away from home, but they give you time to relax and recover on your own. Plenty of people talk about how introverts need alone time, but the best relationship experts know that everybody needs alone time! This is a great time to meditate or reflect on your relationship.

Ditch the Kids

For couples with kids , the pandemic had an extra challenge: you’re now homeschooling, whether you like it or not! This means you’ve not only been spending more time with your partner, but a lot more time with the kids. While this has probably created some prime family bonding, you and your partner need time alone to be adults. As restrictions lift, consider having a close relative or friend over to babysit while you and your spouse spend adult time together—go for a walk, visit a restaurant if you feel comfortable, or find some private space to be intimate. Now that the kids aren’t out of the house for six hours a day automatically, you need to spend more time planning!

Seek Professional Help

If the typical advice isn’t touching your relationship problems, you should consider setting up an appointment to meet with a couples therapist in Highlands Ranch! When you work with a professional, you get an unbiased third-party to mediate disputes, and years of training and expertise in the best evidence-based methods to help you and your partner see eye-to-eye again. Animal-assisted couples therapy  is a great option for those who feel uncomfortable with talking, and Dr. Steve’s therapy dog, Zeke, loves to help couples express difficult feelings!

The pandemic has taken too much away from us already. Don’t let it ruin your marriage! If you and your partner are struggling, don’t wait. Visit in-person with facial coverings and enhanced sanitation, or participate in telehealth couples therapy. Get expert marriage counseling help today!


Child psychologists help families navigate all sorts of challenges, especially those dealing with helping children to grow and develop as well as possible. When parents divorce, this can be twice as much work, because there are twice as many households! Most children do have a challenge with this process, but clear communication, consistent expectations, and predictability can spell success—no matter if parents like each other or not. Read on to find why having consistency between homes is important for your child’s well-being.

Structure and Time

Here’s a common situation that divorced parents face all the time: You go to pick your children up from your ex’s house at 10 a.m. on Sunday, only to find that they are all still asleep. After a chilly wait in the driveway, the kids come out, bleary-eyed, to share their exciting stories of staying up all night the night before. By the way, they haven’t eaten, all their clothes are dirty, and nobody has homework done. When you ask your ex, you hear “when they’re with me, we do laundry and homework on Sunday nights and it works.” What to do? There is no “right” structure, just what is “right” for your family. However, when kids report widely changing bedtimes, meal times, and not enough time to complete homework, the adults need to build in more structure. Sleep hygiene is just as important  as getting math practice in, so work together to find something that works for everyone.

Rules and Expectations

If you’ve divorced, you’ve probably heard the scream of “but Mom says I can!” or “we do it this way at Dad’s house!” at least once. Your kids are right to be upset—they thought they were playing by the rules, and all of a sudden, they changed! Imagine driving down a highway that had a speed limit of 55 mph for years and suddenly, without notice or changing the signs, you get pulled over for speeding, because in a certain section of the road, the speed limit is only 40 mph. You’d be outraged! This is how kids feel when rules and expectations change suddenly, and instead of taking responsibility and correcting their behavior, they are more likely to become angry or defiant. Help by setting common rules between households, especially for important rules around safety, hygiene, and success at school .

Calm and Anxiety

Human beings love to know what is coming next. This is even more true for kids, as they have very little control over their lives—for young children, often the most they can do is choose how they respond. So a predictable household and house swap will set him or her up for success by reducing anxiety and promoting calm. Even very young children may benefit from picture-coded or color-coded calendars to see when they will be with mommy, when they will be with daddy, and how much time is in the middle. Likewise, knowing that school, meals, playtime, church, soccer, and other activities will happen no matter where the child is at can help him to feel more secure.

Navigating shared custody after a divorce is always a challenge, but by working together and keeping the child in mind, you can do it successfully! If you need more help or support, consider working with a Littleton child behavior psychologist on strategies .

Successful psychologists help people everyday. Some people attend just a few therapy sessions and learn the take-home skills they need to move through challenging times, others enjoy the process and interactive experience of sharing thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. And then there are people who say “why go talk to a stranger? I never get anything out of it!” For those of you in this last group, you are not alone! As a n expert in ADHD counseling and animal assisted therapy in Highlands Ranch, Dr. Lazarus has helped thousands of people to feel better. These tips will help you to get the most out of your therapy experience, no matter what your challenges are.

Find a therapist you mesh with.

Finding a good “fit” between you and your therapist is so important. This is the person that you should be able to tell your deepest fears, darkest desires, and most embarrassing moments—so you need to feel comfortable. Interviews, phone calls, and the first session are a great way to see if you match personality-wise, and a few questions can make sure your therapist will meet your needs. Does your therapist specialize or have good familiarity with your specific concerns? Do their treatment approaches resonate with yours? There is more than one way to skin a cat, and definitely more than one way to benefit from therapy, so find what works for you. Speaking of animals, if you haven’t had luck with therapy in the past, consider animal assisted therapy. Our fluffy friends are natural therapists.

Have at least one clear goal.

Ever hear the saying “if you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll go there anyway?” Make sure you work toward what you want by having at least one clear goal. Not sure what you’re feeling? Share this with your therapist and your first goal can be “find the biggest problem in my life that I want to change.” Yes, finding a goal can be your goal! This is not to say that you can never get off-track, but working toward a common goal is rewarding and effective. If you come seeking couples therapy, you may find yourself working toward multiple goals to improve your relationship.

Communicate clearly.

Do you like something your therapist does? Hate something? Let them know! While psychologists in Littleton are experts in behavior, we are not mind readers, and everyone wants something different. If you want to talk, nearly uninterrupted, for the entire session, let your therapist know. If you’re tired of talking and want concrete skills you can practice and accomplish each day, say it! Your psychologist only knows if treatment is working or not if you tell them.

To start on your therapy process today, or just to find out more about your options, give Dr. Lazarus a call. He and his therapy dog Zeke will be happy to give you a fresh, new therapy experience that can change your life!

For better or worse, loss is a part of life. Not only is it inevitable, it is necessary—if nobody ever died, we would simply run out of room for new life to be born. However, this does not make the process any easier, especially when the loss is someone whom you love dearly. When does grief become something else, and when should you seek help? Read on to find out!

Immediate reaction

One of the best ways to think of immediate loss is of devastation. Whether you have lost a loved one unexpectedly or after months of declining health, the final realization that they are gone can be rough. It is normal to cry, feel sad, or even feel angry—at the person who is gone, at yourself, and at the whole world. Your emotions may feel overwhelming, and that’s okay. Allow yourself time to feel these emotions and seek the support of others in your life.

Signs you need help

While loss is difficult to bear, there are some signs that you should seek professional help. If you consider harming yourself or others, you should always call 9-1-1 or visit your nearest emergency room.


For a few weeks or months following the loss, you can expect to still feel pain quite vividly. You may notice that your pain subsides somewhat, or that it “rears its head” with vengeance every now and again. Reminders of the person you have lost, such as their clothing, favorite TV show, or perfume may bring back vivid and unsettling memories. However, at this stage, you should be able to start recovering and moving on. Try thinking of the positive memories you have of this person and what they would want for you—chances are, they would encourage you to keep living your life!

Signs you need help

Immediately after a loss, it is perfectly normal to “shut down” for a few days. However, if weeks or months have passed and you still find yourself unable to go to work, maintain hygiene, or feel happiness or enjoyment, you should seek the help of a grief counselor in Littleton. Loss can take a huge toll on relationships as well. Your partner might not understand your grief, or why you’re so sad, and attending Littleton couples therapy sessions might help you to see eye to eye.


After a few months, you may feel guilty that you do not think of your lost loved one that often. Don’t despair—this is a normal part of moving on. In addition, you may find yourself doing great most days, but receiving an occasional “blow” when something reminds you of your lost loved one. This, again, is perfectly normal. Holidays and anniversaries tend to be the hardest, but you can turn these moments of sadness into moments of celebration by honoring the lost person’s favorite activities and sharing them with others. The person you lost will always be a part of you.

Signs you need help

If you still feel the same intense pain as you did when you first realized your loved one was gone on a daily basis, or if you still feel limited in your work, social life, or personal life because of the loss, you may benefit from working with a therapist. While there is no “time limit” on grief, it is important to differentiate grief and loss from depression. In addition, working with a trained professional can help you to clarify your feelings and values and develop effective coping skills to keep yourself going.

While your loved one may be gone, you know he or she would never want you to get “stuck” as a result. Live your life to the fullest and give Dr. Lazarus a call if you’re feeling stuck!

Moving on after the breakup of a long-term relationship with a significant other is very difficult, and it requires a healing and recovery period. Dealing with a divorce can be disorienting, confusing, and lonely, but during this time, it’s important to remember that your primary goal should be letting go and moving on. As sad as it may be to let go of a relationship, it’s a necessary part of the process if you want to lead a healthy and full life in the future.

1. You Will Experience a Full Spectrum of Emotions

Although we may not always think of it as such, a breakup is a loss, and it’s normal to experience a wide array of changing feelings as you come to terms with that loss. After a divorce, you can expect to experience:

  • Denial
  • Frustration and exhaustion
  • Anger and confusion
  • Grief and sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Resentment and relief

It’s important that you give yourself time and permission to mourn and grieve the loss of your relationship, your friend, and the life and dreams you shared together. As with any loss, overcoming grief and pain is a process, and you can’t expect to wake up one morning and have everything be back to normal.

2. Support from Others Is Integral

Just like you sometimes need help carrying in groceries when you have a full carload, you also need emotional support when you’ve got too much on your plate. Talk to your friends, family, and loved ones about how you’re feeling and coping, spend time doing fun things together, and don’t be afraid to get out and meet new friends. If you need a little more help, seek out a support group or talk to a therapist who can help you manage your feelings in a healthy and productive way.

3. Recognize the Difference Between Healthy Sadness and Depression

It’s entirely normal to feel sad and lonely after a breakup, and you can expect to experience changes in your activity level, eating habits, sleep patterns, and moods. What’s not normal, however, is for the grief you feel to persist without getting better. If that’s the case, be on the lookout for other symptoms of depression, which include:

  • Persistent feelings of hopelessness and feeling no hope for the future
  • Inability to feel pleasure from activities you once enjoyed
  • Loss of appetite or binge eating, and weight loss or gain
  • Consistently decreased energy levels
  • Feelings of extreme sadness that affect all aspects of your life

4. Learn How to Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself after a divorce or breakup is no different from caring for yourself when you’re sick. Take some time off work if necessary or lighten your workload if you can, take the time to rest and relax, stay active, eat right, take time to do the things you love, pursue new hobbies and interests, and don’t try to make any important decisions.

5. Use This Opportunity to Learn More About Yourself

The end of a long-term partnership provides an excellent opportunity to get to know yourself again. Give yourself time to be alone and single, and rediscover the person you were before you got into the relationship. This can mean taking up old hobbies, reconnecting with old friends, and taking a look at what makes you the person you are.

One of the best parts of having friends and family is that you can count on them when you need help, so don’t be afraid to reach out during this time. Focus your energy on processing the loss you’ve experienced and coping with the feelings you’re having, and allow yourself to begin a new chapter in your life.

Finding a Littleton area therapist to help throughout the healing process would be one. Remember, divorce affects not only you, but everyone around you. If you can’t cope, the people around you are affected as well. Dr. Lazarus, a divorce psychologist in Littleton offers proven techniques such as animal assisted therapy to help you or your family members through the divorce process.


Helping kids deal with divorce

Divorce is something that affects many families, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy experience for anyone. Because divorce is about transition, stability is important: as children of all ages come to terms with the changes happening in their lives, they need warmth, love, support, and encouragement. Respect and open communication will also help make the transition easier, and will remind your children that they are still your number one priority.

  1. Tell Them the Right Way

The way children perceive a divorce can depend largely on how the news is broken to them, and this event can shape their outlook for years to come. Since every child is different and every situation unique, there is no single right way to tell your children that you and your spouse are divorcing. However, some basic advice that every parent should take into consideration includes:

  • Have a family meeting and allow the children to ask questions
  • Sit down with your partner beforehand to decide what you’re going to say
  • Avoid blaming each other in front of the children
  • Stay calm, cool, and collected
  • Set aside a time for a follow-up meeting
  • Don’t give your kids false hope: be clear that the divorce is permanent
  1. Be Reassuring

At a time when everything seems to be changing, children need to be reassured of many things. Most importantly during a divorce, they need to know that they are loved, that their needs will be cared for, and that they are not at fault for anything happening between you and your spouse.


Focus on all the things that will remain the same, and how someone will always be there in the morning, in the evenings, at bedtime, and at mealtimes. And while your words will reassure your children that everything will be all right, your actions will remind them that they are loved, that they still have a family, and that they aren’t to blame.

  1. Maintain Rituals and Routines

Another way to provide reassurance and security during this time of great change is by maintaining your family’s traditions and schedules. This can include things like bedtime story routines, Sunday dinner nights, weekday movie rituals, birthday celebration traditions, and even ordinary events like regular shopping trips together. Continue attending your children’s sports games, recitals, and meets as you always did.

  1. Cooperate and Communicate with Each Other

These are key elements for a family going through divorce. Cooperation and open communication are necessary between siblings, parents and children, parents, and other caregivers. Remember that this is a difficult time for everybody involved, and the more you communicate, the more you can help each other, and the more you help each other, the easier the process will be.

It’s also important that you don’t involve your children in parental disputes: don’t use them as messengers or to vent about their other parent. Instead, be civil and kind, and always make time to listen to your children about how they are feeling and what they’re thinking.

  1. Make Time Together Meaningful

Children who have two parents involved in their lives always fare better, and since you may have less time to spend together now, it’s important that you make the most of it. Engage with your children when you are together by asking questions, listening to what they have to say, participating in activities and hobbies that interest them, and staying apprised of what’s going on in their lives. If you cannot spend time together in person, take the time to write, email, call, and communicate in other ways.

If you follow these tips, you will be able to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible, and that your kids continue to grow and develop, in a healthy, loving way. Seeking out a child psychologist who specializes in divorce and blended families can be of tremendous help to both you and your child during a divorce.

Dr. Steven Lazarus, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist




I am often asked as a child psychologist, “How long should a parent wait before having their child meet a new significant other?”

In speaking from the perspective of a child psychologist who has been working with kids dealing with divorce for many years, here are my thoughts:

1) Kids need time to adjust to the separation and divorce situation. They have a lot of different emotions they are going through. They need both parents to be present for them to help them understand and adjust to their new situation.

2) Parents need time to work through the legal and emotional aspects of a divorce. They are doing themselves a disservice if they too quickly begin dating someone else. The research says that it takes 1-2 years for an adult, whether the one who choose to end the relationship, or the one who may have not had a choice, to heal, understand, and grow the ending of the relationship.

3) If the kids are now seeing each parent ½ of the time, this is a loss for them. If there is then another adult involved in their life, they are actually losing more quality 1/1 time with that parent.

4) When a parent starts dating another person and the child is exposed to this relationship, it is very confusing for them. They don’t know if they are betraying the other parent by not liking them, or by liking them and enjoying spending time with them. They aren’t sure what to call them. It also creates feelings of JEALOUSY and ANGER/ RESENTMENT because in their perception, they have picked that adult over them, or over the other parent. This put the child in an emotional conflict.

5) When kids are struggling emotionally, they tend to either keep it in, which hurts their self-esteem and may cause health and sleep problems. Other kids will act out. They may choose to act it out at home toward to other adult, toward the parent who is dating, or towards the parent at the other house. They may have a decline at school, or regress to behaviors they did when they were younger. They tend to also get CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the parents conflict, which has been shown to be one of the most harmful things that can happen to kids.

6) If a parent does choose to date someone else, there is nothing wrong with this. I encourage them to work through their divorce issues, and when healthy and ready to date, DO THIS ON THEIR OWN ADULT TIME. You have built in time now when you don’t have your kids, use this time to do adult stuff, work extra hours so you have more time with the kids, do errands so you can spend quality time with the kids, date others and do adult outings, build your adult support system.



1) Don’t have a child meet a significant other for 6 months to a year after the legal divorce.

2) When it is clear that the relationship is strong and going to make it long term, slowly being to spend a bit of time with the child. Don’t overdo it, and perhaps make it their choice depending on their age.

3) BEFORE having the kid meet the other adult, it is polite and courteous to let the other biological parent know you will be doing this. Then they are not caught off guard when the kid starts talking about their weekend with the other adult/ and their kids.

4) Watch for warning signs that the child is not ready for these meetings. Increased jealousy, anger, emotionality, trouble at school, and especially becoming very clingy and anxious when not around the parent.

5) Build and continue to develop collaborative parenting. With young kids, you have a lot of years left of having to discuss and deal with your children. Learn to work together and keep your kids as your number 1 priority.


Dr. Steven Lazarus is a child psychologist in Littleton, Colorado. He has a specialty in working with children and parents before, during, and after divorce.

Blended families face many struggles. Suspicion, anger and expectations often prevent the family from bonding. There is hope, though. With hard work and time, blended families can find success together.

Tips for Kids

Stepchildren often feel resentment toward the new parent, anger at their birth parent and suspicion toward siblings. They must learn to respect and trust both parents while bonding with their siblings.

For starters, kids must accept that their new family won’t mimic their old family. Everything’s going to change, and they must accept their new reality.

The kids also benefit from being civil. Avoidance, withdrawal or rude behavior won’t build the kind of family kids want. To earn respect, they must show respect to their parents and siblings.

Tips for Parents

Building a family that’s full of love and affection is a process that takes time. Effective parenting requires consistency. Parents must shower love, selflessness and kindness equally on the biological and step children. There’s no room for favoritism.

Meanwhile, the family benefits from building relationships with each other. Each parent should spend personal time with each child doing activities the children enjoy, and the entire family should hang out and play together regularly.

Sometimes, discipline is necessary. Both parents must unite and agree on the consequences when kids break the rules. The biological parent should administer any discipline, though.

Parents must also be aware of splitting. Kids may play their biological parents against each other or try to get their biological and stepparent to fight against each other. When parenting stepchildren, the parental unit must be united and resist confiding in the kids or badmouthing the other parent.

Being a step family isn’t always easy. Relationship building takes time. Patience, communication, success, and negotiation are all effective parenting tools.