Discernment Counseling

To Be or Not to Be: The Emergence of Discernment Counseling

It’s common for couples experiencing issues in their marriage to attend marriage counseling in an attempt to try and work things out. Sometimes this is a productive exercise, and other times it can leave the parties feeling frustrated and exasperated. Divorce can be an emotional, physical and financial drain for everyone involved, and so it’s often difficult for one or both spouses to make the final decision to file. In recent years, some couples who are struggling with the decision of how best to move forward, either in marriage or in divorce, have been participating in discernment counseling.

Whereas marriage counseling is targeted toward helping couples to unpack and resolve the issues in their marriage, discernment counseling is focused on helping married couples decide whether it’s best to continue working toward rehabilitating their marriage, or to move forward with a divorce. Marriage counseling can continue indefinitely until one or both spouses decides that they no longer wish to continue, whereas discernment counseling involves a finite number of sessions, often between three and five, wherein a counselor will help the parties to find the clarity and confidence needed to assess the viability of their marriage and whether or not they are willing to contribute the amount of work needed to rehabilitate. Whether a couple decides to continue working on their marriage or to move forward with a divorce, discernment counseling equips them with the knowledge and direction necessary to proceed down the path chosen. Instead of focusing on changes in behavior, discernment counseling is more of an auditing process wherein a couple can reflect on the state of their marriage, their goals for the future, and whether or not these two principles are conflicting with one another.

While it may seem at first glance that discernment counseling is simply a precursor to divorce, the opposite can actually be true. If a couple explores the option of divorce and instead commits to continuing with marriage therapy, they are doing so having weighed all of their choices and deciding together that their relationship is worth saving. They can begin to rehabilitate their marriage knowing that each is devoted to doing so.

For more information about discernment counseling, including an index of certified discernment counselors throughout Pennsylvania and the United States, visit www.discernmentcounseling.com.

To schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys or for further information, call us at LaMonaca Law, at (610) 892-3877

About the author

About Christopher Casserly

Chris joined the firm in 2013 after graduating from Villanova University School of Law. While at Villanova Chris focused on Family Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution. In addition, he participated in the Villanova Law Civil Justice Clinic where he advocated for indigent clients facing custody issues. Prior to attending law school, Chris received his B.A. from Providence College where he studied English and French. Chris is a Supervising Attorney and Team Leader at LaMonaca Law. Chris was named a “Top Lawyer” in Family Law by Main Line Today in 2015 and 2017, as well as a Best Lawyer in the area of Adoption in the Delaware County Daily Times. He is a member of the American Bar Association Family Law Section, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the Delaware County Bar Association, where he serves as chair of the Family Law Section’s Custody Committee. When he’s not advocating for his clients, Chris enjoys cooking, all things Seinfeld-related, and being at the shore with his family and their dog, Molly.