Alejandra Gutierrez, LCSW

Does Discernment Counseling Save Marriages

Discernment counseling has become incredibly popular of late. A couples therapist will provide her insight into why discernment counseling is almost always successful and how it unfolds in the therapy room.

What is Discernment Counseling?

Discernment counseling is designed for couples on the brink of divorce. Counseling is perfect when you and your partner have “mixed agendas.” When one member of the couple desires to save the marriage while the other is ambivalent or disinterested,a third party can make a big difference. Therapy creates a space for each individual and the couple as a whole to explore their next steps. Troubled relationships that have lost the spark in their marriage will reexamine their dynamic. This modality is also ideal for marriages who have gone through something difficult. You may have never had the chance to properly process difficult experiences. In general, this is the last effort to preserve the marriage before divorce.

What happens in discernment counseling

In discernment counseling, the couple becomes the client as opposed to you or your partner as an individual. Each individual has space to advocate for their needs in a safe environment where a third party is balancing and helping to identify your joint needs. You and your partner will gain a deeper understanding of what led you to this point as well as each of your own contributions to the problem. You will gain confidence and clarity about the steps forward. Each couple comes to an understanding about whether they’d like to move towards divorce or engage in 6 months of couples therapy with the intent to revive their marriage.

Why Discernment counseling is almost alway successful

The only intended outcome is mutual agreement. Therefore, success is likely. Your ability to find common ground, understanding, and clarity about how you would like to move forward defines success. A couple who chooses the challenging road of recovering their relationship with both individuals invested is a success. A couple who decided this marriage is no longer meeting their individual needs and decide to part amicably is also a success. There is no pressure in this environment but rather an invitation to dive deeper into authentic communication.

A closing thought

Discernment counseling allows you to walk into the next step with confidence. It creates a clear path towards reuniting and reinvigorating your marriage. It may also mean choosing to walk away amicably. As a couples therapist, I commonly recommend discernment counseling before the divorce. A therapist may make different recommendations in certain circumstances. Many couples come for marriage counseling after divorce or separation. These couples return to therapy because they haven’t had closure and haven’t gotten all they need from the relationship. This provides the opportunity for you to move forward without regrets and without looking back. Check out how we can help you get started.

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