FOR COUPLES CONSIDERING DIVORCE OR ON THE BRINK OF SEPARATION
If you or your spouse / significant other are considering divorce /separation, it can be a confusing and very painful experience. Arriving at a decision about whether or not to stay together can be complicated and overwhelming. Unfortunately, traditional counseling is not an effective tool to address this particular dilemma.
However, Discernment Counseling is exactly the right tool for this situation. This type of professional support is a relatively new modality created by the Doherty Relationship Institute, which trains and certifies counselors like myself. Discernment Counseling provides you a structured opportunity to slow down the decision-making process, take a breath, and look at your options for your marriage.
TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE COUNSELING VS DISCERNMENT COUNSELING
In traditional marriage counseling, both partners are interested in doing the work of making the relationship grow. In Discernment Counseling partners have different ideas about whether or not the relationship is workable. This is referred to as a mixed-agenda marriage. One partner wants to make the relationship work (called the “leaning in” partner,” and the other partner is unsure, or feeling like exiting the relationship (this is called “leaning out”).
It is the role of the counselor or coach to help you decide whether to try to restore your marriage to health, move toward divorce, or take a time out and decide later.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN DISCERNMENT COUNSELING
Discernment Counseling is short-term and generally takes 1-5 sessions. Each session is designed to further clarify your feelings about your relationship and how to proceed. At the end of each session, both partners are asked if a decision has been made, and until a decision is reached, the sessions continue.
The primary goal of discernment counseling is to provide clarity and confidence about your decision-making. The sessions facilitate a deeper understanding of your relationship and its possibilities for the future. This is not traditional counseling because the goal is not to solve your marital problems, rather, the goal is to see if your marital issues are solvable, and if you wish to commit to the work necessary to address them.
Three paths are considered as you explore the options for your relationship:
1. Continue your relationship as it is, without a clear resolution to the issues you may be having.
2. Separate or divorce.
3. Commit to ongoing couples counseling in order to work through relationship issues, with divorce taken off of the table.
Most of discernment counseling occurs with a combination of one-on-one work, and together work, to bridge the gap between your respective thoughts and feelings about staying or separating.
A better understanding of your own contributions to what is working and what is not working, as well as an exploration of your reasons to restore your marriage to health, or to not restore your marriage to health, will be explored individually.
There are no good guys or bad guys in discernment counseling. There are only people who are hurting, and looking for the next right choice to create the life they hope to live. My job is to help you find the clarity to do just that.