Skip to main content

Discernment Counseling – FAQs

By September 27, 2021February 17th, 2023Agreements, Child Custody, Child support, Collaborative, Divorce, Mediation
Discernment Counseling FAQ

What is Discernment Counseling?
Discernment Counseling is a method of counseling where the counselor dives deep into the complexity of working with couples on the brink of separation or divorce. Complex topics include a wide range of presentations such as current affairs, being “out of love,” and couples flip flopping between leaning in and leaning out of the relationship. Sessions are commonly spent with each spouse separately, helping them manage their emotions with a clearer head. This protocol protects the couple from drifting into a premature divorce or a divorce that leaves one partner baffled on what exactly happened.

How does Discernment Counseling differ from Couples Therapy?
Generally, partners seeking couples therapy are both in agreement to repair and continue the relationship. However, if one spouse is not sure they want to stay married AND doubts that couples therapy can help, then Discernment Counseling may be a better fit. Most of the time, couples will meet with the counselor individually, as opposed to together – like couples therapy. In Discernment Counseling, the leaning-out partner is supported where they are emotionally, and the leaning-in partner is equally supported in their own emotional state. This type of counseling accepts ambivalence rather than trying to work around it or overcome it.

How long are the sessions for Discernment Counseling and does it require a commitment?
Sessions are usually two (2) hours in length and the initial commitment for the couple is simply the first 2 hour session. During the first session, each person decides separately if they would like another session, up to a maximum of five. Discernment Counseling creates a space where you don’t necessarily have to commit to a decision but can talk openly about problems in your relationship.

What are some of the goals of Discernment Counseling?
The goals are clarity and confidence in a direction for the marriage, based on a deeper understanding of what has happened to the marriage and each person’s contributions to the problems. The outcomes are framed in terms of three paths: stay married, move towards divorce, or decide to do full-on couples therapy for six months to see if the marriage can be put into a good place, with a clear agenda for personal change and with divorce off the table at this time.

What if my partner and I have tried Counseling and we still want to get a Divorce?
Divorce is not a failure in Discernment Counseling. Regardless of what decision you make, it offers many benefits. If you decide to move forward with the divorce, Counseling gives you more insight into went wrong and helps you learn from your mistakes.

If you are interested in learning more about Discernment Counseling, please contact John Weiman at 410-419-8149.

If you have decided to move forward with a divorce and would like guidance through the process, please contact Jacobson Family Law at 443-741-1147 or