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Discernment Counseling was founded by Bill Doherty, a therapist who has expertise in relationship counseling. The actual word “discernment” is defined as have the ability to judge a situation in a well and educated manner. Discernment counseling  is aimed at helping  couples  look at their relationship on a deeper level, through the guidance of a seasoned, clinically licensed counselor. The goals of counseling are: a comprehensive examination of your relationship and challenges you are having, clarity regarding what path to take in your relationship, and confidence, as well as support as you move forward.

What exactly happens in discernment counseling?  Here is a brief overview of what may happen in your first sessions during this process. The therapist meets with the couple together, utilizing specific tools to help determine dynamics of the relationship. Each partner then meets with the counselor alone. The therapist then assists each partner in examining their perspective on the challenges they are having in the relationship, how they may each contribute to the difficulties, and then what path they feel is appropriate for the relationship at the current time.

Lastly, the therapist meets with the couple, discusses the information given and then clarifies with each partner on the path they would like to take. As per the discernment counseling model, there are three paths. The first path is keeping the marriage as it has been. The second path is separation or divorce. The third path is a 6 month commitment to couples therapy, where divorce is not pursued.

Obviously, the above techniques used in discernment counseling may  bring up many dynamics that need to be explored on a deeper level. Most commonly, a specific  dynamic may be that one partner wants to work on the relationship and the other partner does not see a future.  Another dynamic may be one partner is not sure of what path to pursue.

Discernment counseling is an excellent approach to utilize before seeking legal assistance. Why? Discernment counseling gives you a chance to take a different look at your relationship, utilizing a clinically licensed counselor to guide you in making better choices.

This blog was written by a guest blogger & colleague of Roseann Vanella,Professional Mediator, Collen Brigid Fitzpatrick, MSW, LCSW of Instrumental Change, LLC.

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