Discernment Counselling

dISCERNMENT cOUNSELLOR

Marriage breakdown is a painful process especially when children are involved. If you are unsure about working on your relationship discernment counselling is a way for you and your spouse to look at your options before making a final decision about divorce.

As a Certified Discernment Counsellor I can help you and your partner develop a deeper understanding of what happened to your relationship – and what each person’s contributions to the problems are – so you can make a clear decision about the future of your relationship.

Discernment counselling is most appropriate for couples where one partner wants to preserve and repair the relationship and the other is leaning towards ending it. This kind of “mixed agenda” is common among couples approaching divorce, and up to now, there has been a real dearth of special services to address their needs.

Discernment counselling differs from regular marriage counselling 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.

WHAT CAN COUPLES EXPECT TO GAIN FROM DISCERNMENT COUNSELLING?

  • 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 COUNSELLING INVOLVE?

The focus in discernment counselling is on three paths:

  • Path 1: Preserving the marriage as it has been;
  • Path 2: Moving towards ending the marriage;
  • Path 3: Embarking on a reconciliation period during which divorce is taken off the table with both partners making an all-out effort in couples therapy (and other resources if necessary) before making a decision about the long-term future of the marriage.

Discernment counselling mostly involves individual sessions. As a discernment counsellor I can help both partners see their individual contributions to the problems and the possible solutions. Each partner understanding their own contributions to the problems will be important to the success of future relationships even if this one ends.

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

HOW MANY SESSIONS ARE THERE?

Discernment counselling can be as brief as one session and as long as five sessions. You decide each time whether to come back for a subsequent session. The sessions are 1½ hours long.

Discernment counselling is NOT suitable when:

  • One partner has made an final decision to end the relationship and only wants counselling 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 any form of protection order from a court.
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Nancy St. John