You might be confused about the difference between Couples Counseling (or marriage therapy) and Discernment Counseling.
There are two main differences between Discernment Counseling and Couples Counseling. One is who each is for and the other is what we do in the sessions.
Discernment Counseling is for people who are unsure if they want to stay in their relationship or divorce/break-up. Maybe just one person is unsure, both are, or it changes depending on what is happening in the relationship.
Couples Counseling (or marriage therapy) is for people who know they want to be in this relationship and they want help improving it. They are committed to seeing this through.
What We Do
In Discernment Counseling, we are taking a look at the relationship, the issues, and the possibilities, and laying it all out on the table to give the couple an opportunity to decide what they want to do. We do not make changes to improve the relationship. We are figuring out what change is possible so the couple can make a decision on what they want to do.
Discernment Counseling is very short-term. It can be just one session or up to 5 sessions. The couple decides at the end of each session if they want to do another. In other words, if they still need more information to choose a path forward.
In Couples Counseling, we are making changes to improve the relationship so it works for both partners. We improve communication, increase connection, create strategies and plans for different situations, work through issues, all to have a better relationship. This is a longer process than Discernment Counseling, usually taking a couple of months. My method of marriage therapy (or couples counseling) is scheduled 90 minute appointments twice a month until things improve and then we push the time between appointments further and further out.
So those are the differences between the two services. If you are unsure which would be best for you and your situation, send me a message and I will help you figure it out.
Corrin Voeller is a couples counselor in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. She does in-person and online counseling and coaching with couples and individuals to improve the relationships in their lives. She specializes in couples counseling, marriage counseling, discernment counseling and sex therapy. She lives with her husband, two children, and extremely fat dog.
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