A Therapeutic, or Managed Separation is a therapist-facilitated period of time, usually between 3 and 6 months, where a couple physically separate, with the goal of interrupting extremely toxic relationship patterns that have developed. This gives couples the opportunity to have a period of time away from one another to regroup individually and potentially together. A therapeutic separation can typically last anywhere from 3 to 6 months.
Your therapist will work the two of you to help each of you agree to the terms of separation, set out in a contract form. It is vitally important for a therapist to be involved in this process, as it can include topics that could be very could be difficult for couples to address on their own, including management of finances, privacy issues, and if relevant, the care of children.
Ideally, during the separation, both partners should be engaged in both individual therapy and couples therapy with their counselor. Realistically, couples therapy should become the partners' main point of contact and communications while they are therapeutically separated, in order to prevent further damage to their relationship or marriage.
As in traditional relationship counseling, this is a therapeutic process which can help couple with the acceptance and management of their differences through conflict negotiation and boundary creation. A special focus is put on overcoming each partners own assumptions and their own beliefs in themselves and what their partner is capable of. Ongoing research continues to show that therapeutic separation can be a successful strategy in both preventing divorce and in creating more emotionally and sexually intimate relationships.