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Couple Smiling at Each Other

Discernment Counseling

Sometimes couples find themselves in this position: one person wants to work on repairing the relationship and the other is not so sure, is maybe leaning toward separation. Research shows that this kind of “mixed agenda” is common among couples approaching divorce, and there are few special services for them. This is a difficult presentation and one that requires a different approach than traditional couple counseling. In fact, trying a traditional couple counseling approach can be counter-productive and unsuccessful, leaving couples even more frustrated and hurting. Another approach, Discernment Counseling, was developed for just this situation.
Discernment counseling differs from regular marriage counseling in three ways:
a) the goal is not to solve problems in the relationship, but to figure out whether the problems can be solved by getting a deeper understanding of what has happened in the relationship
b) the process involves mainly individual conversations with each partner, since they each have different needs and agendas, providing the opportunity for each to get an understanding of their contributions to the problems
c) it is always short term.
The counseling focuses on making a decision about three paths: carving out a six-month period of time to for an all-out effort in couples counseling (and sometimes other services) to preserve the marriage/relationship, ending the relationship via separation or divorce, or staying the course and deciding later. The counselor respects the reasons for ending the relationship while opening up the possibility of restoring the relationship to health.
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