Are you and your partner starting out in different places in terms of your relationship? Perhaps one of you is willing to work on the relationship while the other is already “checked out” and/or ready for a divorce. If so, discernment counseling may be for you.

Discernment Counseling v. Couples Counseling

You may be wondering how discernment counseling differs from couples counseling. In couples counseling, often both partners are somewhat willing to work on the relationship. With discernment counseling, the counselor you are paired to work with will help you decide whether to try to repair the marriage, move forward toward divorce, or take a break. The counselor emphasizes each partner seeing their own contributions to the problems and the possible solutions. You will come in as a couple, but the most important work will occur in one-on-one conversations with the counselor.

When Is Discernment Counseling Necessary?

At Symmetry Counseling, we use discernment counseling when a couple is in crisis or when couples counseling doesn’t seem to be enough to do the trick. Where couples counseling may be weekly for 45 minutes to one hour, discernment counseling is more intensive, lasting, at times, up to 1.5 to 2 hours. With a maximum of five counseling sessions, discernment counseling gives each partner perspective about a direction the relationship is going because it will give them a deeper perspective of the relationship and where it is going. Rather than trying to solve marital issues, discernment counseling aims to see if these issues are solvable. It isn’t about casting blame on one party or the other; it’s about seeing both sides of the situation and determining whether or not there is a resolution that works for both of you. While you will go to the counselor together, you will do the lion’s share of the work one-on-one with your counselor. This is because you are coming from different perspectives and both sides need to be heard. If you are leaning towards divorce, the counselor will respect that while still identifying room for restoring the marriage if you both so choose. This will be useful in future relationships, even if this one ends.

When is Discernment Counseling Not Appropriate?

Discernment counseling is not always appropriate. This type of therapy is not right for you if:

  • One partner has definitively decided to seek a divorce
  • One spouse does not want to participate and is being coerced to do so by the other
  • When domestic violence is a concern

To set up an appointment for discernment counseling, contact us here or call our office at (312) 578-9990.