For couples where one is leaning in and one is leaning out of the marriage. Discernment counseling is not marriage counseling, and neither are pressured in any direction. Guided through a decision-making process, the couple choose the path they want for their future in order to feel clear, confident, and have no regrets.

If you or your spouse are considering divorce, we can help you:

  • Gain clarity and confidence about what steps to take next with your marriage
  • Understand what has happened to your marriage
  • Look at both sides of problems - yours and your spouse's
  • Determine whether past counseling has been helpful or not so helpful
  • Evaluate the possibility of solving your problems and staying married
  • Make a good decision about whether or not to move towards divorce

What is discernment counseling for couples?

  • Discernment counseling is short term.
  • The focus is not on solving marital problems, but on seeing if they could potentially be solved.
  • Unlike traditional marriage counseling that assumes that both people are willing to work on the marriage, discernment counseling helps people decide whether to work on their marriage or keep moving towards divorce.
  • Unlike individual counseling that usually takes one person's side, the discernment counselor works to understand both partners, even if they see things very differently.

Who is discernment counseling for?

  • Discernment Counseling is for people who are considering divorce but are not completely sure if it's the right path for them. They want to take one more look before making a permanent decision with long term consequences.
  • It's for people who want to give their marriage another chance even though their spouse is moving towards divorce.

If you are interested in discernment counseling but your spouse is not, we can still help. Contact Us >

What does discernment counseling involve?

The discernment counselor helps individuals and couples decide whether to try to restore their marriage to health, move towards divorce, or take a time out and decide later. The sessions are divided between conversation with the couple together and individual conversations with each spouse. The counselor respects the reasons for divorce while trying to open up the possibility of restoring the marriage to health.

The counselor emphasizes the importance of each party seeing his or her own contributions to the problems and the possible solutions. This will be useful in future relationships even if this one ends. Discernment counseling is considered successful when people have clarity and confidence in their decision.

When a decision emerges, the counselor helps the parties either to find professionals who can help them have a constructive divorce, or to formulate a reconciliation work plan to create a healthy, successful marriage. In some cases, couples decide to take a time out from the discernment process and return later.

How many sessions are there?

  • Discernment counseling involves a maximum of five counseling sessions
  • The first session is 2 hours
  • Subsequent sessions are 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Fees for counseling will be discussed when you contact us

Discernment counseling is NOT suitable when:

  • One spouse has made a final decision to divorce and wants counseling to encourage the other spouse accept that decision
  • There is a danger of domestic violence
  • There is an Order of Protection from the court
  • One spouse is coercing the other to participate

*Portions of the above content on Discernment Counseling have been adapted with permission from the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project, University of Minnesota. 

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