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Discernment counseling is a way of helping couples where one person is “leaning out” of the relationship – and not sure that regular marriage counseling would help – and the other is “leaning in” – that is, interested in rebuilding the marriage.

A Discernment Counselor creates a holding environment for these couples to understand each other and decide on a direction for their marriage, whether that is divorce or one last try to make it work.

Discernment counseling involves a couple intake session, followed by a maximum of five discernment counseling sessions. The intake session is usually 100 minutes and the subsequent are 1.5 to 2 hours.

What discernment counseling offers:

  • Helps you decide whether to try to restore your marriage to health, move toward divorce, or take a time out and decide later.
  • Helps to gain clarity and confidence about a direction, based on a deeper understanding of your relationship and its possibilities for the future.
  • See if your marital problems are solvable, and NOT solving them.
  • More understanding of what has happened to your marriage and the part each of you has played in the problems.
  • A game plan for change if you eventually decide to work on the marriage.
  • A set of learnings that you can carry with you into future relationships if you end this one, and a better chance to be good co-parents if you have children.

Discernment counseling is not suitable when:

  • When one spouse has already made a final decision to divorce
  • When one spouse is coercing the other to participate
  • Where is an Order of Protection from the court
  • When there is danger of domestic violence
  • When one partner does not wish to come in

What if my spouse doesn’t want to come in?

In some situations, as leaning out spouse may be unwilling to work on the relationship or attend marriage counselling, but not ready to proceed with the divorce or end the relationship.

In such a situation, Discernment Counseling is not for you. You may decide to continue Hopeful Spouse Counseling if you find it helpful in your quest to fight for your marriage during this critical time, only without the involvement of your partner. 

Click to find out more about Hopeful Spouse Counseling.



Watch the video below for an explanation by Bill Doherty, founder of Discernment Counseling:




Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.


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Meet Our Discernment Therapists

  • Ann Gunapalan
  • Charis Wong