Discernment counseling is an approach tailored to specifically work with couples in the process of considering the future of their relationship. Approximately 30% of couples who enter into couples therapy are qualified as ‘mixed agenda’ couples, meaning there is one partner ‘leaning out’ of the relationship, considering moving forward with separation or divorce; the other ‘leaning in,’ meaning they are hoping to save and strengthen their relationship. Of couples that are already proceeding forward with the divorce process, approximately 40% are deemed ‘mixed agenda’ couples. This creates a difficult starting point for couples therapy and can often mean that couples counseling falls flat before it can get to the root cause of the problems between partners.
The average legal cost for divorce is $15,000. Paired with emotional distress, impact on children, financial constraints, and the social implications, it is important to make an informed choice about this important relationship. The goal of discernment counseling is to provide a structured, brief approach to ‘mixed agenda couples’, in which partners gain clarity and confidence on which path to choose. Partners utilize sessions to explore their relationship history, emotional injuries, whether they believe their problems are solvable, the impacts on their life and children, their role in getting to this place in their marriage and their emotional needs. The role of the therapist is as a facilitator and processor, utilizing a nonjudgmental stance in the room, and working with each partner to explore their own longings, needs, roles, and injuries in the relationships.
We support clients to gain confidence in their decision to either move forward with couples therapy, divorce, or remain in the marriage. Discernment Counseling can also be a helpful starting point for couples that are unsure if they want to commit to couples therapy. Couples and therapists can often struggle to gain traction in session f they are feeling protective, ambivalent or lack clear goals. Once a couple feels their issues are solvable and they want to make the transition to couple’s therapy, we provide referrals to couple’s therapists that are trained and skilled in your particular areas of need.
Separation and divorce are a huge transition for all parties involved. Individual therapy offers support with: grieving the loss of the relationship and future plans; coping with distress, anger, depression, anxiety, financial constraints, and exploring the impact on how you view your self.
If couples decide to divorce, the focus shifts to providing support to the children. Parents can utilize services to transition from a couple to co-parenting individuals. We provide Co-Parenting and Family Therapy services to facilitate secure and stable family connections going forward. Research shows that children’s ability to cope with divorce tends to reflect and follow the parents’ ability to cope. Children look to their primary secure attachment figures in their life for guidance through distress. Family Therapy can be an important tool in providing a safe space for partners as well as for children to explore their difficulties with navigating this new world.
Blaisure, K. R., Ph.D. & Geasler, M. J. Ph.D., (n.d.). Children and Divorce. Retrieved July 14, 2016, from https://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Consumer_Updates/Children_and_Divorce.aspx
Bozzo, A. (2012, May 7). The Cost of Divorce and Marriage. Retrieved July 14, 2016, from http://www.cnbc.com/id/46806960
How much Divorce Cost in the USA. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2016, from http://www.divorcestatistics.info/how-much-does-divorce-cost-in-the-usa.html
Kruk, E., Ph.D. (2012, November 20). Family Therapy and Parenting Coordination to reduce conflict. Retrieved July 14, 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201211/family-therapy-and-parenting-coordination-reduce-conflict