Discernment Counseling: Who Is It For And What Is It?


Are you or your partner unsure as to whether you want to stay committed to the relationship or call it quits? Have you or your partner thought about couples/marriage counseling, but at least one of you is questioning if things will actually change in the relationship?

If so, you might want to first consider trying Discernment Counseling services. As a Marriage and Family Therapist who works alongside many individuals and couples who are struggling in their marital/couple relationship, I have found that many of my clients are unaware of what Discernment Counseling is, who it is for, and how it could be beneficial to them.


Discernment Counseling is intended for couples where at least one person is not sure they want to stay together or work on their committed relationship. The goal of discernment counseling is to help you and your partner gain clarity and confidence in deciding whether to try to preserve your marriage/relationship or make it better, or to take another path such as separation or divorce.

In other words, the goal of discernment counseling is not to try to solve your problems, but to figure out whether you might be able to solve them. It is intended for couples who once made a lifetime commitment, whether legally married or not. It is a short-term structured therapy that can last between 1-7 sessions and requires both partners to be present for all sessions. Lighthouse Counseling Ltd. in Hutchinson and Wayzata offers these type of services to couples.

-Chelsea Krzmarzick, MA, LMFT


Doherty, W.J., & Harris, S.M. (2017). Helping couples on the brink of divorce: Discernment counseling for troubled         relationships. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Doherty, W.J., Harris, S.M., & wilde, J.L. (2016). Discernment counseling for mixed-agenda couples. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 42, 246-255. Available via open access at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jmft.12132/epdf