Discernment counseling is for couples in which one or both partners just aren’t sure what direction to head.
Needing to make a decision regarding the future of your relationship can feel overwhelming. In therapy, we find that many couples who are experiencing dissatisfaction with their relationship are not on the same page – one partner perhaps is leaning out of the relationship and reluctant to work on it, while the other partner is determined to do what it takes to save the relationship. If this speaks to your experience, the discernment counseling process may be useful in helping to clarify a direction for your relationship. Going into the divorce/separation process when one or both partners are uncertain that ending the relationship is the only good answer can be incredibly stressful, especially when there are children involved. Because this is a life-changing decision, both partners likely feel very strongly that they need to make the right decision. The goal of discernment counseling is not to recommend one path or another, but to give both partners greater clarity and confidence in their decision-making regarding separation and reconciliation.
DISCERNMENT COUNSELING SESSION 1
Session 1 of discernment counseling is a two hour session. During the first 35 minutes, the therapist will speak with the couple together about what has brought them to this point in their relationship and what they hope to get from discernment.Then, the therapist speaks with partners individually for 35 minutes each, in order to explore how each views the options of deciding to work on the relationship or moving toward separation.The therapist will then bring the couple back together for 15 minutes in order that they either agree on a path to take or agree to come back for another discernment session. Some couples find that this first discernment session helps them to agree on their path, while others make full use of the remaining 4 sessions.
DISCERNMENT COUNSELING SESSIONS 2-5
Sessions 2, 3, 4, and 5 are each 90 minutes long and continue the individual therapist-partner conversations of the initial session. The therapist checks in briefly with the couple at the outset of the session, but will then move into spending 35 minutes with each partner individually.Then, as in the session 1, the therapist will bring the couple back together for 15 minutes in order that they either agree on a path to take or agree to come back for another discernment session.It is up to the partners to agree to continue with discernment counseling – the therapist makes no assumptions about whether or not there will be a next session. Discernment counseling is intended to be an intensive, short-term counseling process, so I offer up to 5 sessions but no more. Couples can, however, return to discernment if they find that they need additional time after attempting to pursue their original decision.