Discernment Counselling ‌In Singapore: Book Online Appointment

What is discernment counselling?

Discernment counselling is a form of therapy used on couples who are unsure of whether they want to continue 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 committed to preserving the relationship. This type of counselling aims to help couples explore all possible options, as well as the potential outcomes of these options before arriving at a decision to work on or end their relationship. In addition, discernment counselling helps couples determine if they are indeed keen on maintaining their relationship, and not waste their time and effort in traditional couples counselling in the case that only one person shows full commitment. ‌

What is the process like?

Discernment counselling can be conceptualised as a form of assessment therapists employ to determine the next step in the relationship for the couple. There are 3 plausible options which the couple may choose from: accepting things as they are and staying in the relationship, ending the relationship, or dedicating 6 months of their time where both partners commit to trying their best to save the relationship (usually in conjunction with attending regular couples counselling sessions together). If they choose the last option, the therapist will discover the strengths and weaknesses of each individual, the couple’s communication style, and the way they manage conflict. At the end of 6 months, the couple can then reassess their relationship status and decide how to proceed from there. ‌

There are 4 main questions that the therapist can ask the couple. 

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

In the initial sessions, the therapist speaks with each person individually to talk about their feelings and agenda, and then evaluate whether the problems faced by the couple are solvable. Subsequently, 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.

How is discernment counselling useful?

Discernment counselling provides couples with structure when they are in a time of confusion about their relationship. Through discernment counselling, the couple will be able to speak freely about where their relationship is at and clarify whether their relationship issues can be fixed. They will be given a safe space to understand each other’s perspective and explore all possible options which they can choose from. The therapist will also help both partners identify how they are contributing to the core issues in their relationship. Discernment counselling is deemed a success when the couple has increased awareness of the issues in their relationship, and how they want to carry on with their relationship.​

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 to do so. 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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