What is Discernment Counseling?

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Discernment Counseling is an approach to couple’s counseling to assist partners in figuring out if they want to continue their relationship. It recognizes that many couples seek counseling because they are close to separating. Counselors use this knowledge to design interventions and help the couple decide if they should stay together.

Counselors will start by asking plenty of questions in the initial assessment, such as your thoughts about the relationship, your strengths as a couple, common themes in disagreements, if children are involved, and the relationship history. After this assessment, your counselor will speak with you to determine whether there are solvable issues within the relationship. They talk to you about these things together and separately.

Discernment Counseling’s goal isn’t to fix relationship issues or solve problems but to discern whether there are issues that have the potential to be solved and if each partner deems them worthy of working through.

Discernment Counseling usually only lasts a couple of sessions. If couples choose to stay together, they might enter couples therapy after Discernment Counseling to engage in a more long-term process.

This type of therapy can provide a foundation of relational strengths for a couple, making couple’s counseling easier. If couples choose to separate, Discernment Counseling can facilitate that process.

Therapists Who Specialize in Using Discernment Counseling 

Heidi Oesterle


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Rachel Gabrielle



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