Couples on the Brink – Discernment Counselling

Couples on the Brink

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

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.

Learning Objectives

In this workshop you will learn the following:

  • Identify the common mistakes therapists make in working with mixed agenda couples (one leaning out of the relationship and other wanting to save it).
  • Identify recent research findings on the openness of couples in the divorce process to considering the option of marital reconciliation.
  • Discuss a protocol for working with partners together and separately to help them gain clarify and confidence about whether to try couples therapy with a clear agenda for change, or move towards divorce.



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.

When & Where

  • 11th Aug 2017 (Friday)
  • 9 am to 5 pm
  • Venue : To-be-determined


  • $400 – Super Early Bird [before 11th May]
  • $500 – Early Bird [before 11th June]
  • $600 – Normal Rate [from 11th June]
  • Payment is needed to confirm your registration



  • Please enquire for VCF funding


Contact (link sends e-mail)
Mobile 8141-8002