Discernment Counselling

Dr Bill Docherty in the States developed this specialist service for couples “who are on the brink” where one or both are not sure if they want to save their relationship. This is a very particular high intensity and difficult situation usually for all concerned and as such demands the right kind of focus and support from a therapist if the crisis is to be resolved.

I follow Dr Docherty’s training for therapist to provide such a service to the couples who are at this stage.

The discernment service that I offer works in the following way:

  • We make an appointment and there is an initial commitment for both people in the couple to simply attend this first 2-hour session. During this session, each person decides separately if they would like one more session, up to a maximum of five, if a decision still hasn’t been reached regarding how to move forward.
  • The goals are clarity and confidence with regards a decision about the direction of the marriage. This is based on a deeper understanding of what has happened to the marriage and each person’s contributions to the problems.
  • The outcomes for the session(s) are framed in terms of three paths:
    1. stay married as is
    2. move towards divorce
    3. 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 during this time.

I work to engage with you as the couple and together we go through a process of exploring how you both feel and think about your experiences of the relationship. We will use this information to help you both decide whether it is possible to consider having one last try to heal and restore the relationship.

Discernment counselling is usually very short-term work that can be done once or sometimes twice a week, according to the severity of the couple’s crisis and circumstances. This phase of therapy comes to an end when a decision emerges. At this point I can either embark on a couples’ therapy programme to help you create a new, more healthy relationship or help you onto planning your lives living separately.

“Discernment counselling is a protocol which protects the couple from drifting into half-hearted couples therapy, a premature divorce or a divorce that leaves one partner baffled on what exactly happened. Divorce is not a failure in Discernment Counselling, but not learning anything that can help in a future marriage is a failure.”

Dr Bill Docherty

Client testimonial

“I wanted to reiterate how much I’ve appreciated and benefited from your support, skill and kindness during those difficult weeks. Although it has been a painful journey, you’ve helped us so much to make it a useful and strengthening experience in many ways. I’m not sure how this journey would have ended without your guidance.”

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