What is Discernment Counseling?

Discernment Counseling is a process for couples seriously contemplating divorce.

The goals of this process are to provide a deeper understanding of what has happened to the marriage and what might be possible for the future and clarity and confidence about the future of the marriage.

Discernment Counseling was developed by Dr. William Doherty to assist couples considering divorce. The structure and process are designed to help couples determine one of three paths for their marriage:

  • Path One: Continue as things are (no decision regarding divorce or reconciliation)
  • Path Two: Separation/Divorce
  • Path Three: Commitment to a 6 month effort in couples therapy to determine if you can build a strong marriage that is healthy for both partners

Discernment Counseling Follows a Very Specific Structure:

  • One to Five Sessions
  • The first session is two hours long, all other sessions are 1.5 hours
  • The sessions are structured as follows: everyone together, then each person separately, then everyone together at the end

How is it Different from Couples Therapy:

  • Discernment Counseling is used to decide whether both parties are willing to work on their problems— but the actual problems are not addressed
  • Much of the work is done in individual conversations with an emphasis on each person’s own contribution to the problems in the marriage

Is Discernment Counseling Right for Us?

  • Discernment Counseling is a voluntary process; neither spouse should feel coerced to participate
  • Discernment Counseling is for sorting through the very important decision of whether to stay together and work on the problems in the relationship or to end the marriage. It is not for people who have already made up their mind and simply want a space to tell their spouse they want a divorce.
  • Each person separately has a phone intake with me to determine that this is a good fit and everyone understands the process

If you want to know if this is a good fit for you and your spouse, feel free to contact me to learn more about Discernment Counseling.