Couples In Step Hearts

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Are you considering divorce or separation but unsure that’s the right path for you? That’s a hard place to be! Here’s where Discernment Counselling can help.

Discernment Counselling offers the opportunity to pause, take a breath, and carefully consider the long term consequences of divorce/separation.

Discernment Counselling and Couple’s Therapy: The Difference

There is a clear difference between Discernment Counselling and Couple’s Therapy. Couple’s Therapy assumes both people are willing to work on the marriage/relationship. Discernment Counselling assumes that one partner is “ambivalent” or “leaning out” of the relationship while the other spouse is “leaning in.” Each perspective is honoured.

  • Typically the “leaning out” of the relationship partner is unconvinced regular couple counselling will help

  • Typically the other partner is “leaning in” and interested in rebuilding the relationship

You will Choose One of the Following Paths

  • Restore your relationship to health

  • Move towards separation/divorce

  • Continue with the relationship as it is and decide later.

restore your relationship

The Goals of This Approach

  • To gain clarity and confidence about a direction for your relationship

  • To gain confidence in the direction you decide to move forward on

  • To gain a deeper understanding of each partner’s contributions to the current state of the relationship.

Discernment Counselling is not to solve your marital/relationship problems, but to see if they are solvable.

How Does It Work?

You will each be treated with compassion and respect no matter how you are feeling about your relationship at the moment. There are no bad or good guys.

You will come in as a couple, but the most important work occurs in the one-to-one conversations with your therapist. Why? Because you are starting out in different places.

Your therapist will respect your reasons for divorce while trying to open up the possibility of restoring your relationship to health.

Your therapist will ask each of you to see your contributions to the problems and the possible solutions. This will be useful in future relationships even if this one ends.

Considering Discernment Counselling?

Practical Details

Discernment Counselling is short term. You may have as few as one session or as many as five sessions. You each decide at the conclusion of each session whether to come back or not for a subsequent session.

Sessions are weekly on Thursday afternoons from 1-3 pm.

Discernment Counselling sessions are two hours each.

Occasionally Discernment Sessions are proceeded with an information session (30-60 minutes) for each partner. The information sessions are fee-for-service sessions.

Discernment Counselling is Not Suitable When…

  • One partner has already made a final decision to divorce/separation

  • One partner is coercing the other to participate

  • There is danger of intimate partner violence.

Discernment Counselling is Suitable Even When…

  • One partner is engaged in lifestyle choices such as use of substances

  • One partner is involved in an affair.

About Discernment Counselling

Discernment Counselling was developed by Bill Doherty, PhD, as part of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Program. Recently Huffington Post ran an article about Discernment Counselling.

Irene has using aspects of Dr. Doherty’s approach since 2012 when she first read an article authored by by Dr. Doherty in a professional journal. In 2014 Dr. Doherty, along with his daughter Elizabeth Doherty formed the DRI Alliance. The DRI Alliance is dedicated to preserving couple relationships where possible and to give couples the opportunity to move toward a family friendly divorce when a relationship is ending. The DRI Alliance trains therapists, lawyers, and mediators in the Discernment Counselling approach. Irene has been a member of the DRI Alliance since its inception, deepening her understanding and skill in this approach.

Discernment Counselling DRI Alliance

Nearly Every Couple Faces Challenges

Sometimes the difficulties can get so over whelming they can make both of you feel helpless. In our stress-filled, anxiety-driven lives it helps to talk with a professional about your relationship. Couples In Step offers a variety of services to help couples repair and revive their relationship: in-person counselling, on-line counselling, 3-day intensive couples counselling for couples in crisis, couples retreats, discernment counselling for couples where one, or both of you, are uncertain about continuing the relationship.

Contact us