Discernment Counseling


Sometimes one person or both people in a relationship are not sure whether they are ready to commit to counseling together. Discernment counseling offers an alternative to traditional couple or marriage counseling when this is the case. One counselor will meet with both of you together for thirty minutes, and then separate you to meet for thirty minutes with each of you individually. The goal of Discernment Counseling is to help you decide if you should commit to couples counseling, leave things the way they are, or make the decision to separate or divorce. Common issues that bring couples to Discernment Counseling include affairs, separations, a history of breaking up and getting back together again, or the sense that one of you has fallen out of love. Discernment sessions commonly last two hours, and you will only commit to one session at a time for up to five sessions.

Discernment Counseling is a format for counseling developed by Dr. Bill Dougherty at the University of Minnesota. Holly Birkeland and Jennifer Stoos have both completed the basic training in Discernment Counseling. Discernment Counseling is appropriate when one or both partners are hesitant to commit to a couple or marriage counseling process because one or both of them are not sure they are ready to go forward in the relationship.


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