If I threw a coin in the air, it might almost always land on a couple asking themselves, ‘Should I leave this relationship or should I just stay and try to work it out. There may be so many factors that are telling them to leave, like the number of broken promises or broken trust. Unresolved issues that have been going on for so long it’s beyond redemption. Then there are good points to stay like my partner is good with the kids, my family loves my partner, the sex is fantastic. But you don’t want to stay like this anymore, and you know the relationship can better. And you want to do the right thing.
You may probably be considering marriage counselling at this point. However, from experience, if I have a couple where one is leaning into the relationship and hoping to stay together, while the other is leaning out and considering a breakup or divorce, my advice would be to attend Discernment Counselling. Discernment Counselling is a brief couple counselling that helps couples who are uncertain about their relationship decide if continuing the relationship, or not would be the right decision.
Helping couples take the next step.
Discernment counselling helps couples decide what the next step in their relationship. In Discernment counselling, the counsellor helps the couple consider three possible choices. The first is either to end the relationship. Second, beginning a six-month period where the couple will commit and make every effort in saving the marriage with divorce or break up off the table. This path may also include participating in couples’ therapy. The third choice is to postpone the decision. Couples commit to 1 counselling session, which lasts for 2 hours. After which they have the option to ask for up to five more sessions.
What happens in during the session?
The session will be broken up into different parts. The first part couples will be together, where both of them will have the opportunity to answer these initial questions:
- What happened in the relationship that caused the partners to consider ending it?
- What has been done to try to fix the relationship?
- How do children factor into the decision to end the relationship?
- What were the best times each partner experienced in the relationship?
After that, each partner will meet individually with the counsellor. Here the partner will discuss their feeling and their agenda. Afterwards, the couple will meet together with the counsellor to conclude the session. The counsellor will provide a summary and ask the couple if they would like to come in for another session.
What’s the point of Discernment Counselling?
Discernment Counselling is different from other types of couple counselling. It does not help couples to solve their relationship problem but determine if there is any problem to be addressed. It helps the couple to discern which path they would like to take and what is best for them as a couple. It helps couples who feel in limbo in their relationship decide the next step.
From confusion to clarity
When couples are thinking of separation or divorce, Discernment counselling offers a space to find clarity to decide whether the relationship can be fixed. During the session, in collaboration with the counsellor, the couple will identify how they are each contributing to the problem and explore a possible solution. By understanding what went wrong, how to move forward may become more apparent.
Marriage Counselling vs Discernment Counselling
The difference between marriage counselling and discernment counselling are many. Firstly, the couple’s agenda to attend couple’s counselling is different. Secondly, the number of sessions is different. Marriage counselling can be long or short term depending on the approach and Discernment Counselling is as brief as one session. If a couple who is looking for a suitable counselling for their problems, I would say, look at your intention. Are you ready to save the marriage, or are you still on the fence or on the brink of separation/divorce?
Marriage Counselling is for couples who are ready to save or fix their marriage. This is part of the solution for keeping their relationship. While Discernment Counselling is for mixed-agenda couples. Where one partner is leaning into the relationship and the other is leaning out of the relationship. Perhaps the couple is thinking of divorce or separation, but they are not really sure. Discernment counselling will help to clarify the best decision.
Discernment Counselling is very brief. Couples commit to a one, two-hour session. By the end of the session, a decision can already be made. However, if they are still not clear, they have the option to request for up to five sessions. Marriage counselling, on the other hand, is more that one session. For Marriage counselling using Emotionally Focused Therapy approach, the couple will have to attend eight to twenty session. Maybe more if they feel they need more session.
If you think your relationship can benefit from Discernment Counselling, or if you would have any queries or if you are ready to make an appointment, please email me here. I am happy to help with your relationship.