Roughly 30% of couples that seek couples counseling are not aligned in terms of their goals for seeking out therapy, and in most of these cases, one partner is considering divorce. Discernment Counseling is an approach that is tailored uniquely to these kinds of couples. Instead of explicitly focusing on repairing or improving the relationship, Discernment Counseling sessions are focused on increasing the couple’s clarity and confidence about how best to proceed in the relationship.
It utilizes a short-term and goal-oriented structure comprising two to six sessions. The counselor splits each session, spending half with each partner. Both partners will also share a brief summary with the other after their individual session, and then meet again at the end of the session to determine whether a path forward has been decided or if another session is needed.
For the leaning out partner, time with the counselor will focus on identifying the best path forward and understanding unhealthy relational patterns and behaviors that they may bring into future relationship if they choose Path 2.
For the leaning in partner, time in session will focus on helping them to maximize their chances at achieving their desired outcome and challenging them to identify and work on ways they may be contributing to the relationship’s problems.
This approach has a number of benefits that traditional couples therapy can’t offer: It helps to take the pressure off the “leaning out” spouse to jump into fixing the marriage, it requires no commitment beyond one 90 minute session (with most couples only needing between 2-5 sessions), and most importantly, it provides both partners with knowledge about how they contributed to arriving at this critical junction in their relationship so that they can make the incredibly important decision about whether to continue with the status quo (Path 1), divorce (Path 2), or commit to 6 months of couples therapy (Path 3).
If you are a couple on the brink and would benefit from getting more clarity and confidence about whether or not to try to work on your relationship issues, then Discernment Counseling is the right approach for you. If interested, you can call us at 336-945-0137 to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation.