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Discernment Counseling

Discernment Counseling


Helping couples succeed as they decide:

Do we stay or do we go?



It is not by accident that we say the decision to marry is one of the most important decisions a person makes in their lifetime.




A lot of couples come into my office wanting to work on their marriage with one major issue that stands in the way.

One or both of the partners in the couple have one foot out the door already.


Let me say something and be clear about it.

Couples counseling WILL NEVER WORK IF both parties are unable to be

— fully present

— fully invested and

— put their full effort into the repair process, with divorce off the table.


And that is precisely where DISCERNMENT COUNSELING comes into play.


It allows you and your spouse to do the following:


-It offers you both a chance to pause in the craziness of everyday life

-Take some dedicated time to reflect on your marriage, as it was, as it is and as you’d like it to be

-That way you can see what exactly happened that got you to the place where you are today

-It allows you both to think about what your options are

-It allows you to make a confident decision about what your next steps should be.


If you are at this crucible

If you are a couple who lives in or around the Minneapolis area who is considering divorce but one or both of you are unsure about where you stand–

Discernment counseling is for you.


The goal of discernment Counseling


The main goal of discernment counseling is for each of you to gain greater clarity in your decision making when it comes to proceeding with the divorce process.

And, you will both walk out with a better understanding of what your possibilities are in terms of reconciliation.

Because, and this is key, reconciliation IS a possibility.

Even if it doesn’t seem that way right now.

And lastly, you and your spouse get to examine both sides of the coin to see how you each may have contributed to the mess that your life is right now.


What discernment counseling IS NOT:


1. First and foremost, discernment counseling is not couples therapy or marriage counseling.


As particular issues come up during the course of this structured interview, I will bring to the your attention issues that may be worked on in therapy — BUT — this process does not include the actual couples work.

It’s what would follow if you so decide.

I believe that working on a marriage where one of you may be completely involved in the process & interested in repair, and the other is completely unsure where he/she stands will bear no fruit.

Absolutely none.

I know. It sounds almost harsh.


Because it resembles pulling the cart simultaneously in two different directions.

So, to expect that much will change in your ‘dance’ during the course of discernment counseling would be wishful thinking.


2. In discernment counseling, the therapist will not discern for you.


The discernment counseling process is to be done by you.

The two of you, that is.

The two of you together.

I, as the therapist, will not be the person to discern whether you should stay together or move towards a divorce.

Making this life-changing decision remains your prerogative.

It is your job. Your place. Not mine.

I will help you walk through it, I will get my hands dirty alongside of you if I have to, I will ask questions to help make your decision.

But the end result is up to you.


3. Discernment counseling does not equal divorce counseling.


Now, if you have both decided and agreed on divorce, discernment counseling will no longer be helpful.

The benefits of discernment counseling have at that point, for all practical purposes, expired, if you will.

So, if that’s where you are, there’s a number of therapists in Minneapolis and surrounding areas who specialize in divorce counseling. (If you need help pointing you to one or two of them, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.)

They will be the people you may consult to guide you through the divorce process, to do it as smoothly and painlessly as possible.


What discernment counseling IS:


Discernment counseling serves as a precursor to marriage counseling. 

When the two of you are on the verge of divorce because one or both of you are considering divorce as an option – but –  you are not sure whether that is really what you desire – the discernment process can help with that.


The nuts and bolts of discernment counseling


The overall process of discernment counseling typically consists of 1-5 sessions.

Because of its layout, the first session is 2 hours in length, subsequent sessions are 100 minutes in length and include both together and individual time with the therapist.

Both in the couple need to be present for the entirety of the sessions.

This process is a precursor to marriage counseling.

As such, it is not intended to solve marriage problems.

Rather, it allows us to see if there is even a potential to solve them AND if that can be agreed on by both you and your spouse.



Whether you already decided or are still trying to decide what to do, here is something I want you to know:


“As long as you two are ready and willing to fight, I will be there to walk you through the mud, cheer you on, commend and applaud you as you succeed.

And I will be the last one in the room to stand up and declare that I’m done.”


If you are in the Minneapolis area, and would like to schedule a 30 min complimentary phone consultation, you may do so by visiting my ONLINE SCHEDULING PAGE HERE.

Let’s see if discernment counseling is what you two need.

And we’ll go from there.

Discernment Counseling
Discernment Counseling
Discernment Counseling


This approach was designed by Dr. Bill Doherty of the University of Minnesota. For more information, please click here.