This training is not for everyone. If you do not see many couples, and if the couples you prefer to work with are all highly motivated for therapy, then then there would be no real reason for you to pursue this advanced training.
But if you love working with "tough couples," this protocol can be a transformational experience for you and your couples.
If one spouse is not sure they want to stay married AND doubts that couples therapy can help, then Discernment Counseling is exactly where the couple belongs. The leaning-out partner is supported where they are emotionally, and the leaning-in spouse is equally supported in their own emotional state, Discernment counseling avoids starting half-hearted couples therapy with these mixed-agenda couples. It accepts ambivalence rather than trying to work around it or overcome it.
The initial commitment for the couple is simply the first 2 hour session. During this session, each person decides separately if they would like one more session, up to a maximum of five. The goals are clarity and confidence in a direction for the marriage, based on a deeper understanding of what has happened to the marriage and each person's contributions to the problems. The outcomes are framed in terms of three paths: stay married as it, move towards divorce, or decide to do full-on couples therapy for six months to see if the marriage can be put into a good place, with a clear agenda for personal change and with divorce off the table during this time. .
Our training dives deep into the complexity of working with these couples on the brink, including a wide range of presentations such as current affairs, being "out of love," and couples flip flopping between leaning in and leaning out. Most of the time in sessions is spent with each spouse separately, helping them get clearer, manage their emotions, and learn about self and relationship. Becoming an expert on these couples is a huge benefit to your local community and to referring professionals who are often extra strung out and stuck on how to help these couples.
This protocol protects the couple from drifting into half-hearted couples therapy, a premature divorce or a divorce that leaves one partner baffled on what exactly happened. Divorce is not a failure in Discernment Counseling, but not learning anything that can help in a future marriage is a failure. As the clinician you develop confidence in having a structured approach to helping couples in crisis who are often poorly served in our communities.