Marriage ER (Discernment Counseling)

Marriage ER is an approach to relationships and marriage focusing on discernment counseling–a framework for working through the viability of a relationship for both partners, and formulating a strategy for working through life’s challenges, or making a decision to separate or divorce.

“Your first marriage is over; would you like to create a second one together?” -Esther Perel

I specialize in helping couples whose marriage is at the breaking point, using discernment counseling to get you to the right place; you’re considering divorce, but are not completely certain that’s the best path.

Marriage ER (Discernment Counseling) is a chance to slowdown, take a breath, and look at your options moving forward with your relationship.

Julie Schmit LMFT

What Marriage ER (Discernment Counseling) is and is Not

Marriage ER is not typical Couples Therapy. It’s an innovative, focused, one to five session sequence. Marriage ER is especially helpful for couples when divorce is on the table and there’s not enough time and motivation to explore their entire marriage.

Marriage ER is indicated when one person is “leaning out” of the relationship—and not sure that regular marriage counseling would help – while the other is “leaning in”— and interested in rebuilding the marriage.

In Marriage ER there are no interventions, experiential re-enactments, trauma work or skill-building exercises typical of standard Couples Therapy.

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.

What is the counselor’s role in Marriage ER?

Through Marriage ER, I work with couples whose marriage is in a critical condition. Some have tried couples therapy before but didn’t get what they needed; maybe they just spent their time fighting in front of the therapist without anything changing, or maybe they were taught skills that didn’t translate into their particular conflicts, or maybe the therapist was just throwing ideas out there, hoping they’d land, without following a tried and true protocol.

The goal in Marriage ER is not to solve your marital problems, but to see if they are solvable. I will help you decide whether to try to restore your marriage to health, move toward divorce, or take a time out and decide later.

During the Marriage ER process, both of you will be treated with compassion and respect no matter how you’re feeling about your marriage at the moment. No bad spouses or good spouses here.

With Marriage ER, I provide a short-term process to help you develop clarity and confidence in your decisions about the future of your marriage. You will gain a deeper understanding of what happened to your marriage and what each person’s contribution is to your relationship problems. I’m here to guide you through this process in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

The Process

The first session is usually 2 hours and the subsequent sessions are 1.5 or 2 hours. You will first come in as a couple, but the most important work occurs in the one-to-one conversations with me, your counselor.

Why? Because each of you are starting out in different places. I 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.

At the end of the session you’ll reconvene and share a summary of your individual conversations. You’ll clarify if you’d like to meet again for more discernment work, stay with the marriage as it’s been, move towards separation or divorce, or transition into couples therapy.

For more information about Marriage ER (Discernment Counseling), watch this video featuring Dr. Bill Doherty, the creator of Discernment Counseling as he explains what makes this process so innovative and unique.

If you’re ready to gain clarity about the future of your marriage, then
schedule a free 15 minute consultation to learn more.

Discernment Counseling is not suited for these situations:

When one spouse has already made a final decision to divorce

When one spouse is coercing the other to participate

When there is danger of domestic violence