The Collaborative Divorce Center

Exploring Discernment Counseling Before Divorce

Consider Discernment Counseling Before Deciding to Divorce

People used to divorce because they were unhappy. Now people divorce because they think they can be happier. This may not serve you well. For wherever we go, we find ourselves. If you are considering ending your marriage, first consider discernment counseling to help you figure out if divorce is right for you.

Discernment counseling is a type of brief couples therapy designed for couples who are uncertain whether they want to continue their relationship. It can also be used in cases where one partner wants to end 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 breaking up or getting a divorce 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.

There are four core questions the therapist may ask couples during the initial session:

  1. What happened in the relationship that caused the partners to consider ending it?
  2. What has been done to try to fix the relationship?
  3. How do children factor into the decision to end the relationship?
  4. What were the best times each partner experienced in the relationship?

The therapist then meets individually with each partner to discuss their feelings and agenda. Afterward, the couple meets jointly with the therapist again for the conclusion of the session, and the therapist summarizes and arranges another session if both partners want one.

Discernment counseling differs from other types of couples counseling in a few important ways. First, the goal of this type of counseling is not to solve relationship issues or concerns but to determine whether any problems are able to be solved. To help couples make a decision, a discernment counselor may spend more time individually with each partner rather than meeting with both at once, as is typical in couples therapy. An additional difference between discernment counseling and other types of couples therapy is that discernment counseling is often brief: it typically lasts from one and five sessions.

Share :