I advised Ken that the secret of a happy life was to find out what your talents are, or something that particularly interests you, and to make a career out of it. This means you don’t necessarily need to be an academic, you might be good at art, music, cooking, computers or sport; and then I told him how to use some software that could identify his ideal career. I said that once he had got a job, it would be easier to get accommodation, and that once he had got himself sorted, his wife might be more amenable to sorting out visiting rights. In the meantime, it would be a really good idea to sign the divorce papers so that everyone could start to move forward. I also suggested he see his GP and get some counselling, and that he might consider volunteering to help others to put his own worries into perspective.
About a week later, I got a “Thank You” card from Ken’s wife, saying that she was very pleased with the way I had dealt with such a delicate matter, and that she was relieved that he had finally signed the divorce papers so she was going to let him see his daughters.
Some three months later, I got a call from Ken thanking me for taking the time to listen to his hopes and fears, and for the advice that I gave him. He had pretty much done everything I had suggested, and he felt so much more positive about the future.