Discernment Counselling

“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

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 90-minute session and for us together to decide how to proceed.
  • 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 and their feelings about staying or leaving.
  • The outcomes for the sessions 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 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.


“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.