For people who are considering divorce or separation but are not completely sure if it’s the right path for them. They want to take one more look before making a permanent decision with long term consequences for themselves and their family.
The goal of Discernment Counseling is to develop clarity and confidence about which direction to take for the relationship, based on a deeper understanding of the relationship and its problems. The goal is not to solve relationship problems but to see if they can potentially be solved. Unlike traditional couples counseling that assumes that both people are willing to work on the relationship, Discernment Counseling assumes that frequently one partner is “leaning out” of the relationship and the other is “leaning in,” wanting to rebuild the relationship. Each perspective is honored.
What does Discernment Counseling involve?
The focus is on helping people decide among three paths: move towards divorce or separation, try to restore their relationship to health, or stay the course and decide later. The sessions are divided between conversation with the couple together and individual conversations with each partner. Most of the time is spent in individual conversations because each person is on a personal journey of discernment and action.
The counselor helps each party see his or her own contributions to the problems and the possible solutions. Understanding oneself in a relationship is important for the future even if the relationship ends. You can’t divorce yourself.
The counselor respects the reasons for divorce or separation while trying to open up the possibility of restoring the relationship to health. Discernment Counseling is considered successful when people have clarity and confidence in their decision, and a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship.
When a decision emerges, the counselor helps the parties either to find professionals who can help them have a constructive divorce or to formulate a reconciliation work plan to create a healthy, successful relationship. In some cases, couples decide to take a time out from the discernment process without arriving at a clear direction, with the option of returning later.
Discernment Counseling usually involves 1-5 sessions. You are committing at first to just one session, and then can decide to do more sessions. The sessions are 1.5-2 hours in length.
Discernment counseling is NOT suitable when
● One partner has firmly decided to divorce or separate and wants the other to accept it.
● One partner is coercing or manipulating the other to participate.
● There is a danger of domestic violence.
● There is an Order of Protection from the court.