Is one partner considering separation or divorce?
Is the other trying to repair things?
Did couples counseling fail to improve the relationship?
Not sure you want to stay in your relationship?
Sometimes the problems in a relationship can be so severe, either or both partners may feel like ending it. Yet, despite feelings of hopelessness, there are doubts: What if I haven’t done everything to repair this relationship? Is divorce really the right thing to do? Because of these feelings, people often think that regular couples counseling will not be helpful. They are correct — regular couples counseling may actually be harmful in these types of situations.
Instead, you may be a great candidate for Discernment Counseling. Approximately 30% of couples seeking counseling have one partner “leaning out” of the relationship. Meaning, that partner thinks they may want to terminate the relationship. Usually, the other partner is “leaning in.” Meaning, they are motivated to fix the relationship. Because of these competing agendas, Discernment Counseling is much more effective than regular couples counseling.
In Discernment Counseling, the focus is on helping each partner clarify their own feelings and thoughts about the relationship. Discernment Counseling helps to protect the leaning-in partner from more disappointment, while providing the leaning-out partner with a safe place to be honest about their feelings. As feelings and thoughts are clarified, a decision can be reached more easily. From there, the couple can be guided in separating amicably, or new goals for the relationship can be established, and traditional couples therapy can begin.
Discernment Counseling Can Provide:
- Clarity about which direction to take for your marriage
- Confidence about your decision
- Understanding about what went wrong in the relationship and how it could get better, including each person’s role in how the relationship deteriorated (sets the stage for effective couples counseling)
Goals For Discernment Counseling:
To assist the couple in deciding between three possible paths:
- Path One: Status quo
- Path Two: Separation working toward divorce
- Path Three: An all-out effort to work on the relationship
Format For Discernment Counseling:
- It is short in duration (between one and five sessions)
- Most of the intense work is done in individual sessions
- Each session will have the following format:
- First, we meet together to discuss the frame of mind of each partner
- Each partner meets individually with the therapist with a brief summary at the end for the other partner
- Finally, we meet together again for a final summary, and decide whether to meet again
When Is Discernment Counseling Not Appropriate?
- If the the decision to end the relationship has already been made
- If there is the danger domestic violence or an Order of Protection from the court
- When one partner is coercing the other to participate
Partner won’t come in? I still think I can be helpful to you. We can discuss the pros and cons of you remaining in the relationship, and I will provide objective feedback based on my clinical knowledge about intimate relationships. What I won’t do is tell you what to do or judge you about your choice(s). Rather, I can help you clarify your own values and goals, and help you think through the decision-making process more clearly and thoroughly.
To see how I have helped others, read my Testimonials.