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In traditional marriage counseling, the goal is to improve the marriage. The therapist works with the assumption that both people in the relationship have this as their goal. Often, though, a marriage reaches a crisis point – sometimes after years of emotional distance, financial problems, sexual problems, or constant arguing. Sometimes it's a more recent crisis like an affair or an illness.
When this happens, it’s not unusual for just one person in the relationship to decide that divorce is the only option. This can lead to a new crisis and more emotional pain. Once the legal divorce process begins, the alienation and conflict can escalate, and before long all hope for the marriage or for a constructive divorce is gone.
There is another way.
In discernment counseling, we don't assume that you both want to preserve the marriage, only that you are both willing to take a look at what's happened to your marriage and decide whether to break up or to try to repair it.
If you and/or your spouse are considering divorce, discernment counseling may help you:
Discernment counseling is a short term therapy that focuses on determining if your marital problems could potentially be solved. It can often lead to traditional marriage counseling, which is generally open ended in length, and aims to help people solve their problems and restore their marriage to health, but not always.
Ultimately discernment counseling helps people decide whether to work on their marriage or move towards divorce.
Is Discernment Counseling right for you?
There are several indicators that it may be a good choice for you:
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 include conversations with the couple together and individual conversations with each spouse. The reasons for considering divorce are respected, while the possibility of restoring the relationship to a healthy place is opened.
Emphasis is put on the importance of each party’s contributions to the problems and their possible solutions. Even if this marriage ends, this type of practice will be helpful in future relationships. Ultimately, successful discernment counseling provides the participants with clarity and confidence in their decision, whatever that decision may be.
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 usually two hours, and subsequent sessions are one and a half hours.
Discernment counseling is not advised:
At NCCT we have several clinicians who have been trained by Dr. William Doherty and approved to conduct his work by the Couples on the Brink Project, the group that originated this groundbreaking approach. Contact Us for more information about this approach.