Discernment Counseling

  • Is your marriage on the brink?

  • Do you sometimes feel that there is no hope for your relationship?

  • Are you or your partner uncertain as to the viability of your marriage or relationship?

  • Have you or your partner considered divorce as a way to end the chaos?

  • If you and your relationship partner are not on the same page and leaning in different directions about the welfare of your commitment, discernment counseling may be the place for you.

Divorce Is Not Always a Solution

There is never a right time to make the decision to divorce. Making a determination to dissolve a marriage is a crucial decision that often impacts not just the adults but the children as well.

With the divorce explosion of the late 70’s there are numbers of unsatisfied married people making a decision daily to end their relationship. Research has concluded that divorce, however, does not necessarily make unhappy adults happier. Approximately 50% of both men and women surveyed expressed regret over having divorced. Unhappily divorced men and women were no happier five years later than those who remain married; two-thirds of those who remained married reported being happy five years later. It seems then marriage may be good for some but pausing and bettering yourself may be advisable more often than not.

It is not uncommon that couples enter joint therapy with mixed agendas that is, where one is leaning-in and wanting the marriage to continue and one is leaning-out of the marriage and wanting it to dissolve. In this paradigm, there is no movement.

Couples therapy is more likely to be successful when both parties have a vested interest in regaining their connection. When couples adjust their marriage in the short term to slow down and pause, they may secure the benefits from the process of discernment counseling.

There is a way to get unstuck. That is what discernment counseling is for.

What is Discernment Counseling?

The purpose of discernment counseling is to provide the clarity you need in order to determine the best of three available options . . . divorce, maintain the status-quo or commit to a six-month period of couples’ therapy, and the confidence to know you are making the right decision.

Discernment counseling is not therapy. It is not couples counseling nor is it divorce therapy. You will not see a change in the dynamics of the relationships, although there may be revelations and observations both you and your therapist may have that can help. You will be able to determine if in fact your problems are solvable.

Discernment counseling is a brief time-limited process, typically done in five or less 1.5- 2 hour sessions; some time is spent together and some is spent alone with the therapist. The goal is to get you unstuck and help you move on.

With Discernment Counseling You Can Expect to Accomplish
  • A deeper understanding of how the marriage has progressed through its stages and how you came to the brink of divorce
  • Identification and understanding of each person’s contributions and dynamics in the relationship
  • Clarity and confidence to make a decision
When is Discernment Counseling Not Appropriate?

There are times when neither discernment counseling nor couple’s therapy is the most relevant choice for a couple on the brink. It is not appropriate in the following instances:

  • when at least one partner has made the decision to divorce
  • when one spouse is coercing the other to participate
  • when there is the presence or danger of domestic violence or sexual abuse
Discernment Counseling Can Help

Discernment counseling can lead you through a process to make a decision to either, commit to work on the marriage and seek couples counseling, to work towards divorce or stay where you are. Most couples, in fact, find resolution and do not see the status- quo as an option when the process is over. Making a decision is better than no decision; life can move on.

Dr. Winter understands the pain in coming to a decision, one that will initiate the breakup of a family. She also recognizes the complex emotional stance of the disengaged and ambivalent couple. As a discernment counselor, Dr. Winter can assist you in making that decision.

Dr. Winter accepts referrals from attorneys, mediators and couples themselves.

What Might Hold You Back from Discernment Counseling?

“I think my partner is making the appointment in order to disclose a plan for divorce.” . . . This is not what discernment counseling is for. A careful phone screening is done in order to rule this out; that said, not everyone’s motives are honestly disclosed and this might happen in the rarest of occasions.

“I haven’t been heard in my marriage; I won’t be heard in counseling.” . . . It is vital in discernment counseling to verbalize your concerns; each party is heard and validated, and a decision is made that is best for your situation.

Is Your Marriage on The Brink?

If either you and/or your spouse are unsure as to whether to its time for divorce or couple’s therapy, discernment counseling can help. Call or email me today for a phone consultation or to set up your first appointment.