One reason Discernment Counseling is powerful is because there are 3 paths to discern in the work. This video goes deeper on Path 1, the less chosen path, but a vital part of Discernment Counseling. It’s also there to avoid half-hearted couples therapy.

Understanding the Importance of Path One in Discernment Counseling

Discernment Counseling, developed by Bill Doherty, offers a specialized approach for couples on the verge of divorce. This counseling method aims to assist couples in deciding on three potential paths: reconciliation through couples therapy (Path Three), divorce or separation (Path Two), and a holding pattern of neither divorce nor therapy (Path One).

The Significance of Path One:

Initially conceived as a residual category, Path One has gained recognition as an essential part of the discernment counseling process. It is a valuable alternative under certain circumstances, mainly when one spouse is not motivated to divorce or fully committed to couples therapy.

Addressing Ambivalence and Paralysis:

Path One becomes particularly relevant when one or both spouses are ambivalent or paralyzed by the decision-making process. In cases where one spouse cannot commit to a decision, Path One offers a non-coercive approach, allowing couples to continue the counseling process without pressure.

Preventing Premature Decisions:

Forcing a decision prematurely, whether towards divorce or therapy, can lead to unsatisfactory outcomes. Path One provides a space for couples to avoid hasty decisions, preventing half-hearted attempts at therapy that are likely to fail.

The Evolution of Path One:

What began as a minor category in early research has evolved into a more substantial aspect of discernment counseling, comprising a significant percentage of outcomes. This shift highlights the recognition of the benefits of allowing couples the time and space to navigate their decision-making process authentically.


In conclusion, Path One plays a crucial role in discernment counseling, offering couples an alternative when faced with uncertainty and ambivalence. Acknowledging the importance of not forcing premature decisions, therapists can guide couples toward a more thoughtful and sustainable resolution, whether it involves reconciliation, separation, or continued exploration of their relationship.