Discernment Counselling is a type of brief therapy for those couples uncertain whether they want to continue their relationship.
Sometimes couples come to a crossroad in their relationship and are deciding if they are better off ending their relationship or continuing to move forward and work on the relationship challenges together. Sometimes one partner is considering ending the relationship while the other hopes to preserve it. This type of therapy aims to help partners consider all options before they make the decision to work on or terminate a relationship.
Couples who are considering ending their relationship but do not know if ending the relationship is the right decision for them may find it helpful to consider their options, and the potential outcome of these options, with a therapist who practices discernment counseling.
The initial commitment for Discernment Counselling is simply the first 2-hour session. The goals are clarity and confidence in a direction for the relationship, based on a deeper understanding of what has happened to the relationship and each person’s contributions to the problems.
During this initial session, each person decides separately if they would like one more session, up to a maximum of five sessions.
The next step is an individual session each. Individual sessions are carefully designed to take each partner where they are, with an emphasis on individual conversations and carefully structured couple sharing. The sessions do not look like traditional couples therapy. There is a big emphasis on what each partner can learn about self from the problems that have developed in the relationship.
The outcomes of Discernment Counselling are framed in terms of three paths:
Path One – Status Quo (stay together)
Path Two – Separation/Divorce
Path Three – Six month commitment to couples therapy, with a clear agenda for personal change and with separation off the table during this time. This is where we would engage in more traditional couples therapy methods.
Whether you have recently started dating, been together for years, are married or not you may find Discernment Counselling helpful in coming to a decision that is right for the you and your partner and allows both of you to move forward however that happens to look.
If one partner is not sure they want to stay in the relationship and doubts that couples therapy can help, then Discernment Counseling is the most appropriate first step. Discernment Counseling avoids starting couples therapy when both partners are not fully committed to making the relationship work where they are currently at emotionally. In Discernment Counselling we accept ambivalence rather than trying to work around it or overcome it.