Discernment Counseling is a treatment approach for those couples that are contemplating ending their marriage. Specifically they are not sure of their long -term commitment to the relationship, but are not completely confident it is the right path. Couples reach this crossroads usually after years of constant arguing, sexual problems or financial problems causing emotional distance and disillusionment of the marriage. Sometimes it is in the aftermath of an affair or other betrayal, medical illness or other crisis. Discernment Therapy allows couples to take one more look at the relationship, and the long-term consequences of divorce, before making a permanent decision. It helps couples explore whether to try to restore their marriage to health, move toward divorce or take a time out; such as a short term separation and put the decision on hold. Usually there is one partner who is leaning toward divorce and one partner who wants to hold on to try to make it work. Unlike traditional marriage or couples therapy, the focus is not on solving marital problems but to see if they could be potentially solved. Discernment counseling is also appropriate for people who want to give their marriage another chance, even though your spouse is not interested in participating. We can still help!
The discernment counselor works to understand both partners hope for the relationship, even if they see things differently. It is short term, and the focus is not on solving the marital problems. The discernment counselor works to understand both partners, even if they see things differently. The sessions are divided between the couple together and individual conversations with each spouse. It is usually 3-5 sessions. The first is a 2- hour couples session with subsequent individual sessions that are usually 1.5-2 hours long. While respecting the reasons for divorce, the therapist emphasizes the importance of each party seeing his or her contribution to the problems and the possible solutions. The couple can expect to gain a 360- degree look at the relationship; where it has been, what has been tried, and what a reconciliation plan would entail, if that is what’s decided. Once a decision is make, the therapist can provide a referral for a professional, to help them have a constructive divorce, or help them move toward a reconciliation plan to create a health successful marriage.
· Gain clarity and confidence about what steps to take next with your marriage
· Understand what had happened to your marriage
· Look at both sides of problems your and your spouse’s
· Determine whether past counseling had been helpful or not
· Evaluate the possibility of solving your problems or staying marries
· Make a good decision about whether or not to move towards divorce
· One spouse has made a final decision to divorce and wants counseling to encourage the other spouse to accept that decision
· There is a danger of domestic violence
· There is an order of protection
· One spouse is coercing the other to participate
Information taken from “Couples on the Brink Project” and http://www.discernmentcounseling.com