If one of you is considering divorce but is not completely sure that’s the best path, you are both in a rough situation. Discernment Counseling can help. Discernment Counseling is a brief, structured process designed for couples where one person is “leaning out” of the relationship — and not sure that regular couples counseling would help — and the other is wanting to stay together and rebuild the relationship.
This process can help you both gain clarity and confidence about your direction, based on a deeper understanding of your relationship and its possibilities for the future. I can help you decide among three paths: restoring your relationship to health, moving toward divorce, or choosing to decide later.
Not regular couples therapy
Our goal during Discernment Counseling is not to solve your relationship problems, but only to see if they are solvable. I will respect your reasons for divorce while trying to open up the possibility of restoring the relationship to health. I will not take sides, or see either of you as the bad guy.
You will come in as a couple, but because you are starting out in such different places, the majority of each session and the most important work will occur in private one-to-one conversations with the counselor. I will emphasize the importance of each of you seeing your own contributions to both the problems and the possible solutions. This knowledge will be helpful in future relationships even if this one ends.
How long does it take?
Discernment Counseling is a structured, short-term process using a maximum of 5 counseling sessions. The first session is 2 hours, and subsequent sessions are 1.5 hours. At the end of each session, each of you decides independently whether you would like to attend another one.
Please note that Discernment Counseling is not suitable when one person has already made a final decision to divorce, when one is coercing the other to participate, or when there is a danger of domestic violence.
This page was adapted from text provided by The Doherty Relationship Institute, LLC. For more information about Discernment Counseling, please visit discernmentcounselors.com.
Books you may find helpful if divorce is on the table
The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage by Michele Weiner Davis