Discernment Counselling

What is Discernment Counselling?

Discernment counselling is a form of therapy that is designed for couples who are unsure of whether they want to continue or end their relationship. Often, we see partners having different agendas regarding the relationship – one wants to bring their relationship to a stop, while the other is striving hard to make the relationship work. Discernment counselling aims to help couples explore all possible options, as well as the potential outcomes of these options before arriving at a final decision. In addition, discernment counselling helps couples determine if they are indeed keen on improving their relationship, or if they want to end the relationship entirely. This prevents them from wasting their time and effort engaging in conventional couples therapy that aims to resolve the issues faced in the relationship.  ‌

How Discernment Counselling Works

Discernment counselling can be conceptualised as a form of assessment that therapists employ to determine the couple’s next step in the relationship. There are 3 plausible options which a couple may choose from: 

  1. Persevering to overcome all challenges and to stay in the relationship
  2. Ending the relationship, or 
  3. Dedicating 6 months where both partners commit to trying their best to salvage the relationship (usually in conjunction with attending regular couples counselling sessions together)

If the last option is chosen, the therapist will discover the strengths and weaknesses of each individual, the couple’s communication style, and the way conflict is managed in the relationship. At the end of 6 months, the couple can then reassess their relationship status and progress, before deciding on their next step. ‌

During discernment counselling, there are 4 main questions that the therapist may ask the couple:

  1. What happened in the relationship that caused either partner to consider ending it? 
  2. What has been done to try to fix the relationship? 
  3. How do children (if any) factor into the decision to end the relationship?  
  4. What were the best times each partner experienced in the relationship?

In the initial sessions, the therapist will speak with each person individually to talk about their feelings and agenda, and subsequently evaluate whether the problems faced by the couple are solvable. Then, the therapist meets the couple jointly to discuss how best to move on with the relationship. 

It is important to note that discernment counselling differs from other types of couples counselling because: 

  1. the main goal is not to resolve the issues in the relationship, but to determine their capability and willingness to solve their relationship problems
  2. the counselling process primarily comprises of individual sessions since each partner has different needs and expectations
  3. therapy is short term

At Incontact, our therapists are trained and have vast experience in guiding couples through this confusing and highly distressing journey. Our therapists have experience in dealing with many different couples who are facing various different issues. Rest assured, techniques and solutions offered by our therapists for you and your partner will be catered to suit your best needs and interests.

How is Discernment Counselling Useful?

Discernment counselling provides couples with a form of structure that they may need when navigating through a confusing and frustrating time in their relationship. Through discernment counselling, the couple will be given a safe space to speak freely about where their relationship is at and decide whether both parties are willing and committed in fixing the issues faced. Discernment counselling allows couples another opportunity to understand each other’s perspective and explore all possible options that they can choose from. 

Discernment counselling is especially useful for couples with mixed agendas. For these couples, discernment counselling can help reduce potential conflict between the couple and make separation an easier process if they were to choose that path. If couples decide to go for couples counselling after discernment counselling, they benefit from having the prior understanding of their key conflicts as well as how each person can improve to better their relationship. Regardless of whether you are leaning towards separating or staying together, discernment counselling is an opportunity for you to be aware of your options which can help you make the best decision for your relationship.

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Frequently‌ ‌Asked‌ ‌Questions‌

Answer: While some couples may find it easier to solve problems on their own, not all couples function the same way and deal with the same problems. Sometimes, seeking external or professional help may be more beneficial than trying to solve the problem on your own – which may cause even more conflict and misunderstanding. Discernment counselling can help you and your partner explore your options thoroughly before making the final decision to go separate ways or try and work things out. Discernment counselling can also allow you and your partner to understand and learn more about each other, in terms of life goals, priorities, beliefs, and more.

Answer: Every couple is unique in their own ways. The number of sessions of discernment counselling that will be recommended to you and your partner by your therapist will be dependent on the context of your relationship and the issues that you are facing. There is never a fixed timeline for counselling. While some couples may arrive at a decision after just one or two sessions, some couples may require additional support and guidance for a longer period of time. If you are unsure and require more information regarding discernment counselling, feel free to contact us and we will gladly assist you in the best way possible.