Discernment CounsellingHave you ever worked with a couple where one partner had significant ambivalence about whether they want to continue with the relationship?

Many couple and marriage counsellors make the mistake of commencing couple therapy without having both partners fully committed to working on the relationship.

When this is the case, discernment counselling may be required, because it is a way for couples to look at their options before making a decision about divorce.

Discernment counselling is right for couples who want more understanding of what’s happened to their relationship and help for deciding whether to break up or to try to repair it. It’s different from regular relationship counselling because discernment counselling is not about solving the problems in your marriage; it’s about figuring out whether the problems can be solved.

Dr Bill Doherty, Director of the Doherty Relationship Institute created his unique model of discernment counselling so therapists can help couples who present in this way.

In this interview Bill discusses:

  • How he came to work in the field of couples counselling
  • How his model of discernment counselling came about
  • The benefits of discernment counselling
  •  How discernment counselling is different from marriage counselling
  • How to know when discernment counselling is indicated
  • The goals of discernment counselling
  • A case study of successful discernment counselling
  • Resources for therapists wanting to learn more about discernment counselling

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

Additional resources

About Dr Bill Doherty

Dr Bill Doherty - Discernment CounsellingWilliam J. Doherty is an educator, researcher, therapist, speaker, author, consultant, and community organizer. He is Professor and Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program in the Department of Family Social Science, College of Education and Human Development, at the University of Minnesota, where he is also an adjunct Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

Bill is past president of the National Council on Family Relations, the nation’s oldest interdisciplinary family studies organization. His awards include the Significant Contribution to the Field of Marriage and Family Therapy Award, the Margaret E. Arcus Award for Outstanding Contribution to Family Life Education, and the Outstanding Community Service Award from the University of Minnesota.
He has authored or edited nine books for professionals, numerous articles in professional journals, and five books for lay audiences on the topics of family rituals, confident parenting, marriage, overscheduled kids, and the family dynamics of wedding planning.

A popular speaker to lay and professional audiences, he has won several teaching awards in his career and is frequently interviewed by print, radio, and TV media on family issues. Since 1999, Bill has been developing and leading the Families and Democracy Project and the Citizen Health Care Project, a community organizing approach to working with families and promoting cultural change.

Bill is a licensed marriage and family therapist, psychologist, and Clinical Member, Fellow and Approved Supervisor for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. He received his Ph.D. in family studies from the University of Connecticut in 1978 and has served on the faculty of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Iowa and the University of Oklahoma before coming to the University of Minnesota in 1986. Read more about Bill at his website www.drbilldoherty.org


Books written by Dr Doherty:

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