Discernment Counseling vs. Marriage Therapy
Many people have heard of marriage therapy — also called marriage counseling — but most haven’t heard of “discernment counseling.” Both can be tremendous tools to assist with relationship issues. However, discernment and marriage counseling are distinct approaches that serve equally important but different purposes. Understanding the critical differences between discernment counseling and marriage therapy is essential to decide which is best suited for your situation.
Read on to learn the differences between discernment counseling vs. marriage therapy. Then, you’ll be set up to choose the most appropriate option for your relationship.
Goal: Deciding vs. Solving
The primary distinction between discernment counseling and marriage counseling lies in their respective goals. For example, marriage counseling focuses on actively resolving the relationship’s issues.
In contrast, discernment counseling’s objective isn’t to work to solve marital problems. Instead, discernment counseling aims to determine whether both partners want to commit to solving those problems. If they do, they may move on to marriage therapy. If they do not, couples enter the divorce process with greater clarity and peace in their decision.
Process: Gaining Clarity vs. Immediate Change
Discernment counseling and marriage counseling differ in their approach to the therapeutic process. As we have learned, discernment counseling prioritizes helping the spouses clarify whether they want to remain in the relationship. On the other hand, marriage counseling emphasizes immediate change as it seeks to address and resolve the issues that couples face in their marriage.
Decision-Making (Discernment Counseling) vs. Problem-Solving (Marriage Counseling)
Discernment counseling assists couples in deciding the future of their relationship. It provides a structured space for individuals to explore their options, evaluate the possibility of resolving their problems, and decide whether to commit to the necessary changes. Conversely, marriage counseling focuses on problem-solving within the relationship, employing therapeutic techniques to address and resolve specific issues.
Time Frame and Intensity
Because of its tailored focus on deciding whether to work on the marriage, discernment counseling is discreet. For example, it often occurs over a limited number of sessions. Within this timeframe, the spouses work to gain clarity and make an informed decision about the future of their marriage. In contrast, marriage counseling tends to be an ongoing process that involves regular sessions — in many come, over an extended period. The intensity and duration of marriage counseling allow for in-depth exploration of issues, communication tools, and ongoing support.
Discernment Counseling and Divorce
Discernment counseling can be a very helpful tool when you’re deciding whether to divorce. One of the things we see in our role as divorce lawyers is that people get stuck deciding whether to divorce. In the worst instances, this can take years — or even decades. Delaying the decision to divorce too long can take a toll on your mental and physical health. We also see time and time again that it can lead to increased relationship problems and a more acrimonious, higher-conflict divorce. Delays can also have negative financial implications.
Whether or not your decision is divorce, you want to decide. In other words, you want to get out of limbo. If you are struggling to decide, discernment counseling may be the right tool for you.
Next Steps in Discernment Counseling vs. Marriage Therapy
Discernment counseling and marriage counseling serve distinct purposes within relationship therapy. Discernment counseling focuses on helping individuals, and couples gain clarity about the potential for change and decide whether to commit to resolving their issues. On the other hand, marriage counseling centers around problem-solving and actively working toward improving the relationship.
Understanding these differences is crucial in selecting the most appropriate approach for your circumstances. If you are uncertain about the future of your relationship and need help making a decision, discernment counseling may be a good option.
Consulting with a qualified therapist or counselor can provide valuable insights and guidance on which approach best fits your needs. Remember, seeking professional help is a proactive step towards nurturing a healthier and more fulfilling relationship, regardless of your chosen path. Let us know if we can help you find a discernment or marriage counselor to work with.