Discernment Counseling is a new way of helping couples when one person is “leaning out” of the relationship with little or no hope that marriage counseling can help, and the other person is “leaning in” and interested in rebuilding the marriage. The goal of Discernment Counseling is to help you gain clarity and confidence about a direction, based on a deeper understanding of your relationship and its possibilities for the future.
Discernment Counseling is not Suited for these situations:
• When one spouse has already made a final decision to divorce
• When one spouse is coercing the other to participate
• When there is danger of domestic violence
Discernment Counseling vs. Marriage Counseling:
Marriage Counseling is focused on solving your problems and increasing emotional and relational intimacy. Discernment Counseling is focused on helping you decide whether to try to solve your problems. Instead of attempting to change your relationship, the focus is on determining whether or not change is possible.
Discernment Counseling is a 1 to 5 session process that helps a couple choose one of three paths:
Path 1: Keep things the same.
Path 2: Move toward separation/divorce.
Path 3: Commit to 6 months of marriage counseling with divorce off the table to see if you can restore or develop the marriage you desire.
In one study of 100 consecutive discernment counseling cases, 48% chose Path 3, 42% chose Path 2, and 12% chose Path 1. About 40% of the total sample were still married 2 years after discernment counseling (Doherty, Harris, & Wilde, 2016).
Cost of Discernment Counseling:
Initial Session Package (Up to 3.5 hours of clinical time) - $525.00.
(2) 30 - minute phone conversations – one with each spouse
(1) 2 hour, in-person meeting with both spouses present
(2) 15 – minute follow up phone conversations – one with each spouse.
Sessions #2 – #5 (80 minutes) - @ $275.00 per session
To help you determine if Discernment Counseling is the right choice for you, take this brief quiz.
Is your marriage on the brink of divorce?
Please watch this video
Choose the statement below that best describes your situation.
Response 1. I'm done with this marriage. It’s too late even if my spouse is willing to make major changes.
See this video.
If you are strongly leaning toward divorce because you feel done with the marriage, I can offer you two options:
1. Short-term discernment counseling to help you take one more look at the decision and to help your spouse get clear as well about what's happened to the marriage.
2. If you end up sure you want to divorce, I can offer you personal help and referrals to mediators and collaborative lawyers who are committed to helping you move forward with the least amount of acrimony. I can assist you in parenting through the divorce process and in making “family first" choices throughout the divorce process.
Response 2- I have Mixed Feelings.
See this video.
You are a perfect candidate for Discernment Counseling.
If you are not ready yet, maybe you feel you want to sort through your thoughts and feelings before sharing with your spouse. I can be a gentle yet challenging guide to help you see things more clearly.
My belief is that there is always more that we are doing individually to impact our spouse than we realize.
Response 3: I would Consider Reconciling.
See this video before reading below.
This is a tough situation that Discernment Counseling might be helpful with. I can help you clarify what needs to change if you are to stay in the marriage, and I can help you communicate your position to your spouse in a non-antagonistic way. I can also help you figure out what you would need to change in yourself in a healthier marriage in the future.
If you are really low on hope, Discernment Counseling is by far the best approach to gain clarity and confidence on what got you to this point and the work both of you would have to do individually if there will be any real hope for your marriage.
Overall, if you've taken this quiz and are feeling demoralized, then Discernment Counseling is the next best step. I offer in-person or online Discernment Counseling and Marriage Counseling (for those couples who choose Path 3).
Response 4 - I don't want this divorce.
See this video.
If your spouse is throwing out the Divorce word, you're in the right place.
If he or she is low on hope for the marriage and really not interested in couples therapy as a way to figure out what to do next, Discernment Counseling is likely the best path for both of you. Many times a leaning out spouse is pleased to find this type of service and will be open to attending one session. (We only commit to one session at a time You both decide if you want to return).
If your spouse is uninterested in Discernment Counseling, then you still have a lot of work you can do on yourself to improve the marriage. I will be glad to walk with you through these terribly stressful times in the hope that we can get your marriage to a point where your spouse is open to do couples work.