Blue Mountains
Blue Mountains

Discernment Counseling

Are you at a point in your relationship where you can't decide if you want to leave or to stay?  

Discenment counseling provides a place and the tools to help you "discern" or decide about the future of your marital or long term committed relationship.



Discernment counseling is a way for couples to look at their options before making a final decision about divorce. It is most appropriate for couples where one partner wants to preserve and repair the relationship and the other is leaning towards ending it. Research shows that this kind of “mixed agenda” is common among couples approaching divorce, and there is a dearth of special services for them. It’s also a common (and difficult) presentation in couples counseling. Discernment counseling differs from regular marriage counseling in three ways: a) the goal is not to solve problems in the relationship, but to figure out whether the problems can be solved; b) the process involves mainly individual conversations with each partner, since they each have different needs and agendas, and c) it is always short term.


  • Clarity and confidence about next steps for their relationship
  • A deeper understanding of what has happened to their relationship and each person’s contributions to the problems


The counseling focuses on three paths: ending the relationship via separation or divorce, carving out a six-month period of time to for an all-out effort in couples counseling (and sometimes other services) to preserve the marriage/relationship, or staying the course and deciding later. The sessions involve mostly individual conversations with the discernment counselor, along with sharing about what each partner is learning in these conversations. The counselor respects the reasons for ending the relationship while opening up the possibility of restoring the relationship to health.

The counselor helps both partners see their individual contributions to the problems and the possible solutions. Understanding one’s own contributions to the problems can be important to the success of future relationships even if this one ends.

Discernment counseling is considered successful when people have clarity and confidence in their decision, and when they more fully understand what’s happened to their relationship.


Discernment counseling can be as brief as one session and as long as five sessions. You decide each time whether to come back for a subsequent session. The sessions are usually 1.5- 2 hours.

Discernment counseling is NOT suitable when:

  • One partner has made an final decision to end the relationship and only wants counseling to encourage the other spouse accept that decision
  • One partner is coercing the other to participate via threats of any kind
  • There is a danger of domestic violence
  • When there is an Order of Protection from a court

The above information is used with the permission of the creator of Discernment Counseling, William J. Doherty, Ph.D.

Leaning In Partner
You may be on this page because your spouse has put divorce on the table or even started the divorce process. Since the time you were hit with this possibility, you may have gone through a wide range of emotions such anger, denial, fear, and sadness. You may be trying to change your spouses’ mind, or you may be distancing yourself and hoping for the best.

In other words, this has been a very tough time, and I’d like to help.
Leaning Out Partner
You may be on this page because you found it yourself or because your spouse asked you to come here.

You’ve probably told your husband or wife that you are deeply unhappy in your marriage, and you may have brought up divorce. This is a hard time, one you never thought would come to pass the day you got married.

But you’ve not started the divorce process yet, or if you have started, you’re not certain it’s the right step. That’s why I suggest you consider Discernment Counseling to help you make the best decision about the future of your marriage.

Dont Wait. Call for your appointment today.

Gina Leiserowitz LMFT LPCC NCC  

(760) 490-7125

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Move your relationship in a new direction.