If you or your partner are considering divorce but are not completely sure it’s the best path, you might feel stuck and overwhelmed. Discernment Counseling is designed for you. It’s a chance to slow down, take a breath, and look at your options for the marriage.

Discernment Counseling is a new way of helping couples.  Usually one person is “leaning out” of the relationship—and not sure that regular marriage counseling would help–and the other is “leaning in”—that is, interested in rebuilding the marriage.  Sometimes both people are leaning in or out. The structure and techniques in Discernment Counseling guarantee clarity and a deliberate path forward.

Hear more from the founder of

Discernment Counseling, Dr. Bill Doherty

Dr. Laura is trained in the Discernment Counseling method of decision making.  She’ll help you decide whether to try to restore your marriage to health, move toward divorce, or take a time out and decide later.

Goals of Discernment Counseling

The goal is for you to gain clarity and confidence about a direction, based on a deeper understanding of your relationship and its possibilities for the future.  You’re not there to solve your marital problems but to see if they are solvable. You’ll each be treated with compassion and respect no matter how you are feeling about your marriage at the moment. There are no sides.

Why not couples counseling?

You may have already tried couples counseling and only gone around and around.  For Discernment Counseling, you’ll come in as a couple but the most important work occurs in the one-to-one conversations with Dr. Laura because you are starting out in different places.  


Dr. Laura has unique ways of respecting your reasons for divorce while exploring the possibility of restoring the marriage to health. By creating an intentional space, we clear the path for straightforward thinking. A surprising clarity emerges as we dig into the old dynamics that kept you both stuck.

Different Conversations

We emphasize the importance of each of you seeing your own contributions to the problems and the possible solutions. This will be useful in future relationships, even if this one ends.  Nothing is wasted.

How It Works – For Couples

Both people in the relationship attend each session.  The first meeting is two hours. We’ll meet together first, then each person has a one on one with Dr. Walsh.  We’ll come together one last time to discuss how the sessions went and you’ll make a joint decision to come back (or not).  There is a maximum of 5 sessions with a guaranteed outcome of one of three paths. Subsequent meetings are one and a half hours and follow the same structure.  The number of sessions is dependent on the adequate clarity for the decision making process.  If your partner is not ready or unwilling to try Discernment Counseling, Hopeful Spouse or Decision Counseling may be right for you.

Why is there a maximum of 5 sessions?

The maximum of five counseling sessions is designed to move you both towards action.  Remember that Discernment Counseling is about making decisions, not changes.  If you both commit to marital counseling, you’ll have plenty of time to work on the issues.  The first session of Discernment Counseling is usually two hours and the subsequent are 1.5 or 2 hours.  Insurance may cover some or all of the cost.  You’ll automatically receive a superbill for out of network reimbursement if you have this benefit.

When is Discernment Counseling not the right solution?

  • When one partner has already made a final decision to divorce.
  • When one partner is coercing the other to participate.
  • When there is danger of domestic violence.

Big decisions are hard.

You’ve come to a crossroads and it’s time to make some decisions. To confidently move forward, you need clarity to take the next steps. Assisted by a licensed clinical psychologist, this short-term, specialized process of 1- 5 sessions gives you the wisdom and insight you’ve needed to break free of ambivalence.

If your marriage is on the rocks, I can help.  Contact me for a free phone consultation to see if Discernment Counseling is right for you and your relationship.

Below are some resources to help you get some traction.  Also check out 6 Must Have Books for Couples on the Brink of Divorce for more resources.

Should I Stay Or Go? : How Controlled Separation (CS) Can Save Your Marriage by Lee Raffel

The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage by Michele Weiner Davis

I Wish I Knew This Before My Divorce: Ending the Battle Between Holding On and Letting Go by Elaine O. Foster PhD and Joseph W. Foster

What are your recommendations?  What books have helped you or someone you know navigate the process of deciding to work on your marriage or deciding to let go?

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