Is your relationship struggling?


 by Stephanie Steele, PhD, LMFT

To find out more about Discernment Counseling, please contact me at Vista 

Have you been struggling in your relationship lately? Have you thought about the possibility of separation or divorce but are unsure if it's the best route to take? You may find some answers through Discernment Counseling. A Discernment Counselor will support you in your quest for these answers. It is not therapy, it is a process of trying to figure out the best decision for you and your relationship. 

What is Discernment Counseling?

Developed by the Department of Family Social Science and the University of Minnesota, Discernment Counseling is short-term (1-5 sessions) counseling to answer the question of whether to stay married or proceed with a separation or divorce. Unlike traditional marriage counseling, discernment counseling does not work on the relationship itself; instead, the point is to work with the couple both individually and together to determine whether the relationship should be worked on or dissolved.

Who goes to Discernment Counseling?

Discernment Counseling is for people considering divorce but are not completely sure it is the right path for them. It is also for being who want to give their marriage a chance, even though their spouse may express their desire to leave the relationship.

What does Discernment Counseling involve?

The discernment counselor helps individuals and couples decide whether to rebuild the marriage, move towards divorce, or take a time out and decide later. The sessions are both individual and together as a couple. The counselor respects the reasons for divorce while trying to open up the possibility of restoring the marriage to health – both options allow both clients to better understand their decision regarding the marriage so they feel confident in whatever path they decide. This type of counseling emphasizes the importance of each person identifying their own contributions to the problems as well as possible solutions. This is useful in future relationships if the current one ends. Discernment Counseling is considered successful when people have confidence and clarity in their decision regarding the relationship.

Who is Discernment Counseling NOT for?

Discernment Counseling is not suitable when:

  • ·      One spouse has already made a final decision to divorce and wants counseling to encourage the other spouse to accept the decision.
  • ·      There is danger of domestic violence.
  • ·      There is an Order of Protection form the court.
  • ·      One spouse is coercing the other to participate.


To find out more about Discernment Counseling, please contact me at Vista!

Stephanie Steele, PhD, LMFT


Posted on October 22, 2013 .