Discernment Counseling

The New Approach For Couples On The Brink

Is your spouse wanting to end the marriage but you don't? Or, maybe you are the one wanting to end it and your spouse doesn't. Discernment counseling is a way for couples to look at their options before making a final decision about divorce. It is most appropriate for couples where one partner wants to preserve and repair the relationship and the other is leaning towards ending it. Research shows that this kind of "mixed agenda" is common among couples approaching divorce, and there is a dearth of special services for them. It's also a common (and difficult) presentation in couples counseling.  

Research shows that this kind of "mixed agenda" is common among couples approaching divorce, and there is a dearth of special services for them. It's also a common (and difficult) presentation in couples counseling.  

Discernment counseling differs from regular marriage counseling in three ways:

  • The goal is not to solve problems in the relationship, but to figure out whether the problems can be solved
  • The process involves mainly individual conversations with each partner, since they each have different needs and agendas
  • It is always short term (between 1 and 5 sessions)

What you can expect from discernment counseling: 

  • Clarity and confidence about next steps for their relationship
  • A deeper understanding of what has happened to their relationship and each person's contributions to the problems

What does discernment counseling entail?

The Counseling focuses on three paths: 

  • Ending the relationship via separation or divorce
  • Carving out a six-month period of time to for an all-out effort in couples counseling (and sometimes other services) to preserve the marriage/relationship
  • Staying the course (remain status quo) and deciding later

Sessions might be as brief as 1 session or as long as 5 sessions and usually run for 1.5-2 hours.

Discernment counseling will help both partners see their individual contributions to the problems and the possible solutions. Understanding one's own contributions to the problems can be important to the success of future relationships if this one ends.

Discernment counseling is considered successful when people have clarity and confidence in their decision, and when they more fully understand what's happened to their relationship. 

Discernment Counseling is NOT suitable when: 

  • One partner has made a final decision to end the relationship and only wants counseling to encourage the other spouse to accept that decision
  • One partner is coercing the other to participate via threats of any kind
  • There is a danger of domestic violence 
  • When there is an order of protection from court

What is the cost?

Discernment counseling is not billed through insurance so the cost will be out of pocket. HSA accounts can be used for payment. 

2 hour Intake Session $240

90 minute follow up sessions $180

Benefits of paying out of pocket for discernment counseling means that there will not be a mental health diagnosis attached to your health records, additionally counseling will not be dictated by insurance companies and all of your information will be kept confidential between you and your therapist.  Also consider that the average cost of divorce is between $20,000 and $30,000. 

If you are interested in learning more about discernment counseling, or if you would like to set up an intake please call me, or send me an email to schedule a 15 minute phone call. 

Content on this page taken from the DRI Alliance