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 granting 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.