Welcome to our blog at the Dougherty Relationship Institute, where we explore the intricacies of relationships and provide insights for challenging times. Today, we're delving into the unique world of Discernment Counseling, a specialized approach tailored for uncertain couples on the edge of divorce. As co-founder Bill Dougherty illuminates this distinctive process, we uncover the crucial role of joint participation in each session for its success.

Couples on the Brink of Divorce

The short-term focus of Discernment Counseling leverages the crisis of a marriage on the brink of divorce to bring about self-awareness and couple awareness in a more rapid fashion than either individual therapy or couples therapy. The crucible of decision-making about the relationship's survival, combined with the intense individual conversations and the five-session limit, puts positive pressure on both spouses to do meaningful work in a way that settling into couples therapy does not necessarily bring about. In a crisis, brief engagements can be better than longer ones.

Discernment Counseling is a short-term intervention aimed at helping couples discern whether to pursue couples therapy, divorce, or neither. While much of the conversation in Discernment Counseling occurs individually with each partner, the significance of their joint presence cannot be overstated. Here's why:

Gauging Emotional Dynamics

When both partners attend sessions together, the counselor can gauge their emotional temperature. From subtle interactions to non-verbal cues, these nuances provide invaluable insights into their relationship dynamics. Observing their interactions inside and outside the counseling room gives a more comprehensive understanding of their dynamic. 

Staying Current

In relationships, dynamics can shift rapidly. Having both partners present ensures that each is kept up-to-date with the other's thoughts, feelings, and potential shifts in perspective. This real-time exchange fosters transparency and minimizes misunderstandings arising from delayed communication.

Facilitating Shared Learning

One pivotal aspect of Discernment Counseling is the opportunity for individuals to reflect on their experiences and insights gained during individual sessions with their spouse. Couples can share these learnings in real time by participating together, fostering open dialogue and mutual understanding. This process not only strengthens communication but also encourages empathy and connection.

While the majority of Discernment Counseling may involve individual sessions, the significance of joint participation cannot be overstated. It offers a platform for emotional connection, ensures alignment in understanding, and facilitates collaborative decision-making. Couples on the verge of divorce can reap significant benefits from this approach, as highlighted above. 

In summary, the journey through Discernment Counseling is a collaborative one, necessitating the active involvement of both partners. By embracing the process together, couples can navigate the complexities of their relationship with clarity and intentionality, paving the way for a brighter future, whether together or apart.