Discernment counseling is short
term, and the focus is not on solving marital or relationship problems.
Unlike traditional marriage or relationship counseling that assumes that both people are willing to work on the marriage, this kind of counseling helps people decide whether to work on their marriage or keep moving towards ending the relationship.
Unlike individual counseling that usually takes one person's side, the counselor works to understand both partners, even if they see things very differently.
Finding a qualified counselor, with experience in helping couples sort through want they want to do is not easy task. What makes for a qualified discernment counselor?
Who can benefit from this kind of counseling?
It is for people who are considering filing but are not completely sure if it's the right path for them. They want to take one more look before making a permanent decision with long term consequences or they want to avoid a painful break up.
It's for people who want to give their marriage another chance even though their spouse is moving towards divorce.
If you are interested in counseling but your spouse is not interested at this time, we can still help.
What happens in a session?
In this type of work, the counselor helps individuals and couples decide whether to try to restore their marriage to health, move towards ending the relationship, or take a time out and decide later.
The sessions are divided between conversation with the couple together and individual conversations with each spouse. The counselor respects the reasons for divorce while trying to open up the possibility of restoring the marriage to health.
The counselor emphasizes the importance of each party seeing his or her own contributions to the problems and the possible solutions. This will be useful in future relationships even if this one ends. Discernment counseling is considered successful when people have clarity and confidence in their decision.
When a decision emerges, the counselor helps the parties either to find professionals who can help them have a constructive divorce or to formulate a reconciliation work plan to create a healthy, successful marriage. In some cases, couples decide to take a time out from the discernment process and return later.
How many sessions are there?
A maximum of five counseling sessions is recommended. The first session is usually 2 hours, and subsequent sessions are 1.5 to 2 hours.
Discernment counseling is NOT suitable when
1) There is a danger of domestic violence,
2) When there is an Order of Protection from the court or
3) When one spouse is coercing the other to participate.
The above ideas are based on the work of William Doherty and his "Couples on the brink" project.
Therapists at Couples Counseling Associates are never going to encourage couples to separate or divorce.
When one or both members of the couple decides that it is in their best interest to end the relationship, we can help to sort things out with civility and dignity, not anger and revenge.
This is never a easy decision and many issues need to be considered in order to have the best possible outcome in a difficult situation.
Founder, Couples Counseling Associates
Tap to Call:
312-416-6191 ext. 205