The 5 Steps of Conscious Uncoupling

Woodward Thomas, M.A., MFT

The 5 Steps of Conscious Uncoupling:
A Therapist’s Guide to Supporting Clients to Live Happy Even After

In spite of our collective love affair with the 400-year-old “Happily Ever After” myth, which was created when the life span was less than 40 years of age, the reality of our time is that very few of us will actually have only one true love in this lifetime. In fact, renowned relationship anthropologist Dr. Helen Fischer reports that serial monogamy is the new norm, suggesting that the majority of us will have 2 to 3 significant intimate relationships in our lifetimes. This of course implies that many of us will have 1 or 2 significant breakups as well.

Those of us who devote our lives to helping people navigate difficult transitions know more than the average person that most of us don’t tend to do breakups well. The latest discoveries in neuroscience validate what we therapists have long suspected. That human beings are born to bond, and that when a “rupture of attachment” (as bestselling author, Dr. Judith Herman once called it) occurs, we will not only become emotionally deregulated, and a little (or a lot) out of control, but we can also slide into a soul-crushing grief that can easily break us in the long run.

Breakups are all too often nasty business, and many will go on to live lesser lives in the aftermath of heartbreak. For inside of our cultural assumptions that all breakups are a failure of love, we’ve never really learned how consciously complete our relationships in a way that can leave all involved whole, healthy and free to move forward with a light and happy heart. Yet in a world where more of us will divorce this year than buy a new car or eat grapefruit for breakfast, many of us realize that it’s time we learn how to breakup better.

I first introduced my offering along these lines, Conscious Uncoupling, as a 6-week online program in 2011. The goal of the program is to help people move through their breakup with their self-respect and dignity in-tact, and while doing the least amount of damage to themselves, their partners, and to their children if they have them. The 5-step program was also designed to help people navigate their multiple losses in a way that would ensure they use their trauma as a catalyst for profound, life affirming transformation, facilitating that which is called Post-Traumatic Growth in the field of positive psychology. So that people going through a divorce or breakup would actually be enriched and expanded by their breakup experience rather than injured and impaired.

Little did I know back then that in 2014 the celebrity gods would shine upon us when a beautiful actress, Gwyneth Paltrow and her talented musician husband, Chris Martin (who we could now affectionately call her “wasband,”) inspired by a mutual acquaintance, would use my term to announce their divorce to the world. Immediately, conscious uncoupling went viral and I, the creator, became the fortunate recipient of thousands of phone calls and emails from reporters all around the world who wanted to know the answer to one simple question. “What the heck is a conscious uncoupling?” And while many made fun of Gwyneth (because who doesn’t love poking fun at someone so unfairly beautiful, wealthy, connected and talented?), many also took the phrase quite seriously. And within 24 hours, conscious uncoupling was listed in an online, well-known dictionary as “redefining divorce in the 21st century.”

Since then, the 5-steps of Conscious Uncoupling have helped many thousands of people to avoid the pitfalls of parting in ways that can do great harm to oneself and others, and to discover the possibilities and joys of living happily even after. I have an entire six-month intensive and rigorous Conscious Uncoupling Coach Training where I train and certify practitioners to help move the broken-hearted through this life-altering process, and empower them to wholehearted freedom, forgiveness and release. As well as teach them how to navigate their grief, we explore the ways grief can leave them with an enhanced ability to create happiness and health on the other side of heartbreak. As an LA-CAMFT member, you are entitled to receive a 5% discount on this training. Yet, I’m thrilled to provide a free introductory Therapist’s Guide ( to the 5-step Conscious Uncoupling process that you can use to help your clients who might either be going through a breakup, suffering with unresolved grief from a past breakup, or are facing a possible breakup in the future.

To access your free The 5 Steps of Conscious Uncoupling: A Therapist’ Guide to Supporting Clients to Live Happy Even After, please click here.

Katherine Woodward Thomas, M.A., MFT is the New York Times Bestselling author of Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After and Calling in “The One.” She is also a licensed MFT and long-time CAMFT member. To date, she has trained and certified hundreds of Conscious Uncoupling and Calling in “The One” Coaches.