Written By: Antonia Di Leo

Everyone at this point has probably heard of couples counseling and the positive effects it can have on a relationship. However, Discernment Counseling, a new type of couples counseling has a different objective. The objective of Discernment Counseling is for couples on the brink of divorce to make a definitive decision on how to proceed with their relationship.

Couples counseling can offer a variety of ways to increase emotional connectivity, develop different ways of effective communication and decrease emotional reactivity in an argument. These are all effective tools for couples in order to provide cohesion, a sense of love, respect and friendship through one’s relationship. Working with your couples therapist can offer a new peace in your relationship, tools for a healthier relationship and an understanding of one another. Couples counseling is also intended to last as long as the couple feels they are able to utilize the skills they have learned in the office and apply them into their daily lives.

Discernment counseling not only has a different objective it is also intended to only last 1-5 sessions. This process was developed by Dr. Bill Doherty in the hopes of helping couples choose a path for their relationship. The three paths this form of counseling lays out are: Path 1, to maintain the relationship in the manner it is in now, status quo, Path 2, to decide to divorce or separate, Path 3, to agree to 6 months of couples counseling without the discussion of divorce. By taking path 3 you can agree that divorce or separation is not definitely off the table it is just not a part of the couples counseling discussions and you both agree to make the commitment to trying to make improvements in the relationship. There is also a certain structure to the Discernment Counseling sessions which is intended for each party to understand their role in the relationship and help guide towards a path.

When deciding which type of counseling is appropriate for your relationship it is always best to consult with either a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Divorce Mediator or an attorney.