Improving Couples Therapy with Discernment Counseling

Navigating the complexities of relationships on the brink requires a nuanced approach in couples therapy. Discernment Counseling emerges as a valuable tool in this context, offering a structured pathway for couples to explore their options and make informed decisions. In this article, we delve into the role of Discernment Counseling in enhancing the effectiveness of couples therapy, drawing insights from a conversation with Bill Doherty, co-founder of the Doherty Relationship Institute.

Understanding Discernment Counseling

Discernment Counseling serves as a bridge for couples teetering on the edge of separation or reconciliation. It operates on a short-term basis, typically encompassing five sessions. Unlike traditional couples therapy, Discernment Counseling focuses on clarity and decision-making rather than immediate problem-solving. During these sessions, couples delve into their motivations, uncertainties, and aspirations regarding the future of their relationship.

Preparing for Couples Therapy

One pivotal aspect of Discernment Counseling is its role in preparing couples for subsequent couples therapy, should they choose to pursue it. Within the framework of Discernment Counseling, couples delineate their objectives and commitments for potential therapy. This groundwork fosters a smoother transition into couples therapy, setting realistic expectations and fostering a sense of agency and accountability.

Enhancing Couples Therapy

The insights gleaned from Discernment Counseling lay a foundation for more effective couples therapy. By identifying patterns, personal agendas for change, and shared goals, couples and therapists alike gain valuable insights into the dynamics at play within the relationship. Armed with this understanding, couples can embark on the journey of couples therapy with a greater sense of purpose and direction.

A Collaborative Approach

Central to the efficacy of Discernment Counseling is its collaborative nature. Rather than imposing solutions or agendas, therapists facilitate a process of exploration and reflection, empowering couples to chart their own course. This collaborative ethos fosters a sense of ownership and mutual respect, essential ingredients for meaningful progress in therapy.


In couples therapy, the integration of Discernment Counseling can pave the way for transformative outcomes. By providing a structured framework for decision-making and preparation, Discernment Counseling enriches the therapeutic journey, equipping couples with the insights and clarity needed to navigate challenges and cultivate a healthier, more resilient relationship.