Discernment Counseling was developed by Dr. William (Bill) Doherty to help couples on the brink of divorce get clarity about how to move forward.
It differs from regular marriage therapy in three main ways:
1) The goal is not to solve problems in the relationship, but to figure out whether the problems can be solved.
2) The process involves a combination of individual time with the therapist and couples time with the therapist.
3) It is always short term (1-5 sessions).
The goal of Discernment Counseling is to give couples greater confidence and clarity about how to move forward, based on a deeper understanding of the relationship and its possibilities for the future.
Discernment Counseling holds 3 paths as outcome options:
Path 1: The status quo – keeping the relationship as it has been
Path 2: Separation/divorce
Path 3: A 4-6 month effort in couples therapy with divorce off the table, after which you can make a decision about whether to stay or leave
This counseling model is most appropriate for couples where one partner wants to preserve and fix the relationship and the other is leaning towards ending it. Research shows this kind of “mixed agenda” couple is common among couples approaching divorce, and is a difficult presentation in couples therapy. Research also shows that a significant percentage of couples who are in the process of divorcing have ambivalence about it, but don’t know how to slow things down and get greater clarity before moving ahead.