Welcome! You may have been sent here by us or by a colleague.
If you got a postcard, you already have a local discernment counselor interested in engaging with you. This therapist can answer your questions and can give you print material that you could hand out to clients.
Here is what we know to be true:
One member of this “mixed-agenda” couple comes to you for individual help. Your leaning-in client wants to save the marriage, something you don’t feel able to directly help with. Your leaning-out client wants individual help, not couples therapy, to cope with the marital crisis and to work through a painful decision about whether to let go of a marriage or keep trying.
For both kinds of individual clients, there is now a resource that can complement your individual therapy, one designed specifically for mixed-agenda couples with a leaning-in and a leaning-out partner. Discernment counseling is a research—based way to help both spouses engage this marital crisis in a constructive way and decide whether to divorce or make a last all-out effort to restore their marriage to health.
Here’s how you might bring up the discernment counseling resource:
If your client is interested in learning more, you can refer them to our new listing site, Modern Commitment, for a written description. This client can suggest their partner look at the same information and decide whether to move forward with discernment counseling.
Leaning-in spouses are usually eager to try discernment counseling, and leaning-out spouses, assured that they are not entering couples therapy to make the marriage better, usually find these sessions beneficial even if they ultimately decide to go ahead with the divorce. In our research about half of discernment cases lead to couples therapy and about half lead to a divorce decision.
For your own clarity about discernment counseling, keep mind that this is not couples therapy to work on problems but a process of helping both partners ultimately see if they want to work on the problems in couples therapy, or proceed now with divorce.
Along the way, they learn a lot about themselves and their relationship, and they each get support for their own goals. The process looks different from couples therapy because most of the intensive work occurs in one-to-one conversations with the counselor, with sharing of learnings with the other spouse. There are no couple-level interventions because there is no contract for couples therapy. Read our homepage for more information about the process.
If your client accepts the referral to discernment counseling, you can continue your individual work and also support the discernment process by helping your client focus on personal issues that need work whether or not the marriage endures.