What is Divorce and Discernment Counseling?
Divorce and Discernment Counseling , at its core, is a therapeutic dialogue between myself and the partner who is wondering about whether or not they want to divorce their spouse. It may also occur between both partners when they are not sure if they want to continue with their relationship.
Why Divorce and Discernment Counseling?
The purpose of individual divorce and discernment counseling is to help the individual who is not sure about the divorce come to a decision regarding couples counseling. If a member of the relationship goes into couples counseling knowing that there goal is divorce regardless of what goes on, then the counseling is doomed from the beginning. In a divorce and discernment session with an individual we will work through there thoughts on the marriage, their own personal contributions to the problem as well as their understandings of their partners contributions. The point is not to push the individual in any one way, but to help them come to a decisions where they have considered all possible solutions. Speaking of solutions, there are three possible outcomes. Keep the marriage as is, move towards with divorce, or commit to 10-12 sessions of full on couples therapy. The partner who is leaning-in to the relationship is supported as well as the partner who is leaning out.
Couple’s divorce and discernment counseling follows basically the same approach, with the key difference being that both clients would hav some ambivalence. In fact, it is typical for the spouses to trade roles between who wants to be in the relationship and how does not. Divorce and discernment counseling supports both partners and helps them work toward a solution that they both are in agreement with.
Why Do We Have Problems In Our Relationship?
Most problems in relationships come down to a simple fact of miscommunication. Every person has an individual way communicating and interacting with others. With your friend you might communicate one way and with your boss another. You probably don’t greet your mother the same way that you greet your best friend. With your significant other there is key a difference. You spend most of your time with this person and overtime your individual ways of interacting with each other become patterns of interaction. These patterns may be helpful, such as when you notice your partner is down you try to cheer them up, or they may be harmful such as being overly critical or judgmental. The problem is when these patterns of interaction become rigid and redundant. When this happens you may find yourself or your partner telling you that you always do this or that you never do that. Another sign is repetitive arguments that seem to never be resolved or issues with frequency and quality of sex. Once a negative pattern of interaction has been started and can seep into every facet of your relationship.
How Can I Help?
Often one member of the relationship goes to a counselor for their “individual” issues. The counselor, not trained to see things relationally, diagnoses the person with an “individual” problem. That person usually feels blamed and often-time is blamed for all the problems in the relationship. As a marriage and family therapist, I am trained to see how all “individual” problems have a relational component. There are several different negative patterns of interactions that couples can find themselves in and I am able to identify them and assist you in breaking out of them. There are even some patterns that are functionally impossible to get out of without the assistance of a professional trained to see them. Some patterns are so pervasive that they can even suck in the therapist if they aren’t aware of it. Work with a marriage and family therapist is different in that it isn’t about taking sides or blame, but rather about improving the communication so that “message-sent” is “message-received” and you can come to workable solutions for the problems you face.