Mental Health Services
Discernment counseling is a way for couples to look at their options before making a final decision about divorce. It is most appropriate for couples where one partner wants to preserve and repair the relationship, and the other is leaning towards ending it. Research shows that this kind of “mixed agenda” occurs among approximately 30% of couples approaching divorce. Discernment counseling differs from marriage counseling in the following ways: a) the goal of discernment counseling is not to solve problems in the relationship, but to determine if both parties are interested in trying to solve them, and b) discernment counseling may be as brief as one session and as long as five sessions.
Discernment counseling focuses on three paths:
- ending the relationship via separation or divorce
- carving out a six-month period for an all-out effort in couples counseling (and sometimes other services) to preserve the marital relationship
- “staying the course” and deciding later
The discernment counselor’s job is to respect the reasons for ending the relationship while opening up the possibility of restoring the relationship to health.