One of the critical life decision therapists deal with is helping people decide whether to dissolve a marriage or try to save it. Quite often couples have mixed agendas about divorce - one wants to save the marriage while the other is partly out the door.
This can be frustrating for therapists because of the lack of a clear goal for couples therapy. Standard approaches to couples therapy often fail us because they require at least a nominal investment in working on the relationship.
Discernment counselling is a way for couples to look at their options before making a final decision about divorce. Research shows that this kind of “mixed agenda” is common among couples approaching divorce, and there is a dearth of special services for them. It is also a common (and difficult) presentation in couples counselling. Discernment counselling differs from regular marriage counselling in three ways: a) the goal is not to solve problems in the relationship, but to figure out whether the problems can be solved; b) the process involves mainly individual conversations with each partner, since they each have different needs and agendas, and c) it is always short term.
In this workshop you will learn the following:
Bill Doherty, Ph.D., is a professor of Family Social Science and director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project at the University of Minnesota. He cofounded The Doherty Relationship Institute along with his daughter Elizabeth Thomas in order to disseminate training in discernment counselling and a new training for the lay public called “Marital First Responders.” A sought after speaker for both therapists and lay audiences, he is author of 15 books on families and family therapy, including Soul Searching, Take Back Your Marriage, and Take Back Your Kids.
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