Oftentimes, couples have mixed emotions and conflicting thoughts about whether to stay together and work on the relationship or break up/divorce. We often call these couples "mixed agenda" couples because one partner may be leaning toward divorce while the other wants to stay together and repair the relationship. In typical couples therapy, with these types of couples, the goals and objective of the therapy is too difficult to determine and therapists are unsure what to do with them.
Discernment counseling is a brief therapy that is tailored to couples that may be uncertain and unsure about the future direction of the relationship and marriage.
The goal of Discernment Therapy is not to build skills, repair or solve the problems in the relationship but to determine rather if the problems in the relationship can be solved. Furthermore, the purpose of Discernment Counseling is for each of you to gain clarity and confidence about a direction, based on a deeper understanding of your relationship and its possibilities for the future. In Discernment Counseling there is no pressure from the therapist in either direction. The therapist will help you decide whether to try to restore your marriage to health, move toward divorce or take a time out and decide later.
Discernment Counseling is very structured and time-limited.
- The number of sessions is limited to 1 to 5 sessions
- The first session is 2 hours and subsequent sessions are 1.5 to 2 hours.
The couple comes in and begins the session together, but the most important work occurs in the one-to-one conversations with the counselor with each partner alone.
Why? Because each partner is starting in a different place.
There may be some situations where Discernment Counseling is not a good fit or not appropriate for the couple. They include but are not limited to:
- When there is or has been, at any point, domestic violence in the relationship.
- Where one partner has made a final decision to end the marriage or relationship and may be only seeking therapy to help the other partner accept or to just "break the news".
- If one partner feels threatened or coerced to participate in any way.