Couples on the brink of divorce: Discernment therapy
(Used with permission from the Doherty Relationship Institute)
If you or your spouse are considering divorce but are not completely sure that’s the best path, you are in a tough spot. Discernment Counseling is designed for you. It’s a chance to slow down, take a breath, and look at your options for your marriage.
Discernment Counseling is a new way of helping couples where one person is “leaning out” of the relationship—and not sure that regular marriage counseling would help--and the other is “leaning in”—that is, interested in rebuilding the marriage. The counselor will help you decide whether to try to restore your marriage to health, move toward divorce, or take a time out and decide later.
Unlike couples therapy which assumes that both people are willing to work on saving their marriage, Discernment Counseling helps partners decide whether it's appropriate to work on their marriage at all, or to keep moving towards divorce.
The goal is for you to gain clarity and confidence about a direction, based on a deeper understanding of your relationship and its possibilities for the future. The goal is not to solve your marital problems but to see if they are solvable. You will each be treated with compassion and respect no matter how you are feeling about your marriage at the moment. No bad guys and good guys.
You will come in as a couple but the most important work occurs in the one-to-one conversations with the counselor. Why? Because you are starting out in different places. The counselor respects your reasons for divorce while trying to open up the possibility of restoring the marriage to health. The counselor emphasizes the importance of each of you seeing your own contributions to the problems and the possible solutions. This will be useful in future relationships even if this one ends.
Number of Sessions: A maximum of five counseling sessions. The first session is usually two hours and the subsequent are 1.5 or 2 hours.
Discernment Counseling is not Suited for these situations:
• When one spouse has already made a final decision to divorce
• When one spouse is coercing the other to participate
• When there is a danger of domestic violence
Dr. Longo was trained directly under Dr. Bill Doherty of the Doherty Relationship Institute. http://dohertyrelationshipinstitute.com/