Sometimes couples on the brink have had not-so-good therapy in the past. How do we not insult their past therapists therapists while instilling hope in trying again? Find out how Discernment Counseling keeps the hope alive by watching this video.

Navigating Ambivalence: A Guide to Discernment Counseling

When faced with a couple in crisis, mainly when one partner is uncertain about pursuing therapy, therapists often find themselves at a crossroads. This dilemma is where the concept of discernment counseling comes into play. In a recent discussion, Bill Doherty, co-founder of the Doherty Relationship Institute, shed light on this nuanced approach to therapy.

The Temptation to Convince

Doherty acknowledges the temptation to convince hesitant partners to give therapy a chance. After all, as trained professionals, therapists believe they can help. However, pushing too hard too soon can backfire, putting undue pressure on the therapist and the hesitant partner.

The Essence of Discernment Counseling

Discernment counseling offers a unique perspective. It's not about convincing or persuading but rather about guiding couples through a process of self-discovery. By reframing the conversation away from immediate therapy and towards understanding their options, therapists can create a safe space for exploration.

The Power of the Subjunctive Mood

One key technique in discernment counseling is the use of the subjunctive mood. By employing phrases like "if we were to work on therapy," therapists can outline potential pathways without imposing them. This approach allows couples to envision a therapeutic journey without feeling pressured to commit.


Respecting the Decision-Making Process

Central to discernment counseling is respecting the autonomy of each individual within the couple. Instead of pushing for a decision, therapists provide information and support, allowing couples to navigate their feelings at their own pace.

Conclusion: Empowering Couples Through Choice

In relational therapy, discernment counseling offers a valuable alternative to traditional approaches. By embracing ambivalence and guiding couples through a process of self-discovery, therapists can empower them to make informed decisions about the future of their relationship.