Discernment Counseling

About Discernment Counseling

If you or your partner is unsure if you want to stay together AND doubtful that couples therapy can help, discernment counseling is for you. Discernment counseling is a brief course of therapy designed to help you get clarity on whether you want to invest in rebuilding your relationship. By accepting and working with ambivalence, rather than ignoring it or trying to overcome it, we sidestep half-hearted couples therapy.

Discernment counseling begins with an initial commitment of just one 2-hour session. Following this session, each partner decides separately if they would like to continue meeting, up to five sessions. The goal in these initial sessions is clarity and confidence based on a deeper understanding of the relationship problems and each partner’s individual contributions.

The outcomes of Discernment Counseling are framed in terms of three paths: 1) stay together as is, 2) move forward with separation/divorce, or 3) commit to 6 months of couples therapy to see if the relationship can be put in a good place. During the period of full-on couples therapy, we take talks of separating off the table and develop a plan for both personal and relationship development.

Discernment Counseling is designed to protect both partners from half-hearted therapy, premature or unnecessary separation, and separation that leaves one partner feeling blindsided. In Discernment Counseling, we do not consider separation or divorce to be a “failure.” We consider separating or divorce without learning to be an unwanted outcome.  If your relationship is in crisis and traditional couples therapy is not a good fit, consider Discernment Counseling.

Benefits of Discernment Counseling

  • Recognizing and working with mixed agendas
  • Nurture and support for leaning-in partner without pressuring or judging leaning-out partner
  • Provides honest assessment of strengths and weaknesses as well as a clear picture of potential repair
  • Promotes productive conversation about relationship’s problems
  • Acknowledge and accept the reality of how each partner is experiencing the relationship currently
  • Provides support for couples who are not a good fit for traditional relationship therapy, including couples experiencing an active affair, couples who are “out of love” and “on-again/off-again” couples

Common Reason for Discernment Counseling

Infidelity and Active Affairs

Nothing throws a couple into crisis quite like an infidelity. The norms of the relationship have been violated, often traumatically. Trust has been broken. Questions — some without hope of answers — swirl for both partners, not the least of which is “Are we through?” 

Infidelity can certainly topple a relationship on its last leg, but it can also sound the alarm, snapping both partners to attention. If a couple can navigate the initial crisis, it is possible to transform an infidelity into something that promotes new levels of personal development and greater intimacy. Research suggests as much as 2/3rds of couples survive an affair.

If an infidelity has left you disoriented and confused, Discernment Counseling can help you decide if you want to rebuild or go your separate ways.

Discernment Counseling is also an option for couples dealing with an active affair who are not a good match for traditional couples therapy. If you have been hurt by an infidelity, I can help you decide if you want to work through it. If you are actively engaging in an affair and are unsure if you want to break it off, I can offer a safe and non-judgmental place to seek clarity.

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Unsure if “Good Outweighs Bad”

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Recommended Resources

  • Rekindling Desire, Barry McCarthy
  • Reclaiming Your Sexual Self:  How You Can Bring Desire Back Into Your Life, Kathryn Hall
  • Passionate Marriage:  Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships, David Schnarch
  • The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus:  How to Go Down on a Woman and Give Her Exquisite Pleasure, Violet Blue
  • The New Male Sexuality, Bernie Zilbergeld
  • Hold Me Tight, Sue Johnson
  • Come As You Are:  The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life, Emily Nagoski
  • Passionista: The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Pleasuring a Man, Ian Kerner
  • Mating In Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, Esther Perel
  • She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide To Pleasuring a Woman, Ian Kerner

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