Find clarity & confidence about the best next steps for your marriage.
Considering ending your relationship? Or does your spouse have a foot out the door? You’re in the right place.
Discernment coaching for when divorce is on the table
If you or your spouse are considering divorce but are not completely sure that’s the best path, you are in a really difficult spot. There is a proven process to help couples who are on the brink figure out their next best steps. It’s called discernment coaching (a close cousin of discernment counseling), and it is designed just for you.
It’s a chance to slow down, take a breath, and look at your options for your marriage. Discernment coaching is a powerful way of helping couples where 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.
We will help you decide whether to try to restore your marriage to health, move towards divorce, or take a time out and decide later. 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. The goal here is not to solve your marital problems but to see if they are solvable. You will each be treated with compassion and respect no matter how you are feeling about your marriage at the moment and no matter what you are bringing to the table.
Not sure about your marriage anymore?
Unsure whether or not your marriage has a future — or if you even want to try anymore? Feeling torn, confused, maybe even guilty?
Discernment coaching will help you explore how your relationship got to this place and what your role in that may have been. With compassion and curiosity, we will explore your reasons for wanting to leave, and what would need to happen for you to want to stay. One-one-one, without your partner in the room, you’ll have an opportunity to explore your doubts and fears, your hopes and desires. This is a no judgment zone, and the goal is to help you make a decision about your next steps that feels congruent and true to your best self, based on a deeper understanding of yourself and your relationship. Regardless of what you’re bringing in, and what path you choose, you will be supported with compassion & respect, and encouraged to use this process as an opportunity for growth.
Which one are you?
Leaning out, or leaning in?
Wanting to save your marriage?
If divorce is on the table and you don’t want it to be, that’s a really hard position. I can help you find your center & do your part to support a positive outcome.
If your partner is talking about splitting up or expressing real ambivalence about the future of your marriage, that can feel devastating. Discernment coaching can help you process your feelings and help you bring your best self to a very difficult time. In one-on-one meetings (without your spouse in the room), we’ll widen the lens to help make sense of what’s happening and how your relationship got to this place. We’ll look at what pieces might be yours to work on, and how to do your part to support your partner in choosing to work on the relationship with you — or not — from a place of integrity and honest self-reflection. Regardless of the outcome, you’ll be supported in using this challenging time as an opportunity for growth and healing. And if your spouse won’t do discernment coaching, individual options are available for you.
Unbiased, compassionate support & guidance
With its unique format and goals, discernment counseling and discernment retreats are designed to meet each of you right where you are. I can help each of you with your agenda (whether that’s to figure out whether or not to end your marriage or work on it, or to do whatever you can to save your marriage), without being at cross purposes. Everyone wins when each of you have the support and guidance to bring your best self to this difficult time and find your way forward with confidence, clarity, integrity and thoughtfulness. I’m here for each of you, and for the best outcome for your relationship — whatever that may be.
Unbiased, compassionate support & guidance
With its unique format and goals, discernment retreats are designed to meet each of you right where you are. I can help each of you with your agenda (whether that’s to figure out whether or not to end your marriage or work on it, or to do whatever you can to save your marriage), without being at cross purposes. Everyone wins when each of you have the support and guidance to bring your best self to this difficult time and find your way forward with confidence, clarity, integrity and thoughtfulness. I’m here for each of you, and for the best outcome for your relationship — whatever that may be.
Considering leaving your marriage?
We’ll help you find more clarity and confidence from a place of deeper understanding.
Thinking about leaving, but aren’t 100% sure it’s the right choice? Maybe you’re worn down after years of trying to get your partner to show up or to change (or not saying anything but wishing it would happen), and you don’t even know if you have it in you to do couples therapy. Maybe you’re in love with someone else but don’t know if you really want to work on or end your marriage. Maybe you’re inclined to leave because you’ve lost interest or connection, but feel like maybe you should work on it or stay, even if just for the kids. Maybe you really aren’t sure what the best thing is to do, but you know you can’t go on as it’s been. Whatever your reasons for eyeing the exit, we will meet you with kindness and understanding. Each situation is unique, and we’ll help you find your best path forward, from the best in yourself.
Without your spouse in the room, you’ll have the freedom, encouragement and guidance to explore your ambivalence and to do some really honest self-reflection about what role you may have played in the troubles of your relationship, and what might be things that could be valuable for you to work on moving forward — whether you choose to stay married or not. We’ll help see if your partner can really hear, and be responsive to, the concerns you’re holding, and explore the potential for healing and repair. The process is supportive and non-judgmental, and is designed to help you learn more about yourself and your relationship, and to make a thoughful and non-reactive decision about the future, whatever that may be. We’ll help you get clear from your best self, with integrity and intention.
In the discernment process, we’ll explore three options:
Path 1: Status Quo
Stay in the relationship as it has been — for now. Claim the limbo and make a plan as to how and when you’ll revisit the idea of making a change towards splitting or repair.
Path 2: Pursue Divorce
Decide it’s really over and set an intention to part ways as respectfully & compassionately as possible. Make a plan that supports the most successful outcome possible for everyone impacted by this decision.
Path 3: Try to Reconnect & Rebuild
Before making a long-term decision, see what’s possible with new insights & intention, genuine effort, and 6 months of professional help to get at the core issues & dynamics that have kept you stuck. Then make a long-term decision.
Sound interesting? If the discernment process seems like it might be helpful, share this information with your partner, and read below to choose the format that makes the most sense for you and get more details…
Trying to save your marriage?
We’ll help you bring your best self to this difficult time and increase your chances for success.
If your spouse is talking divorce, you might feel a tremendous mix of emotions right now, including hurt, anger, anxiety and confusion. You might not even feel like yourself, and you might feel a lot more emotional than usual. It’s totally normal, and we’re here to help. In discernment coaching, I’ll meet with each of you one-on-one for the majority of the time, which allows us to meet each of you right where you are. Even if you already know you’d choose your marriage in a heartbeat, this discernment process can be an incredible opportunity to widen the lens and develop a more nuanced understanding of how you got to where you are, and what it might take to bring your relationship back to health. You will learn the things that are in your control, and get some coaching on how to best support your desire for reconciliation. And If you’re having a really hard time, we’ll help you find your center so that you can bring your best self to this process, and avoid inadvertantly making things worse.
“Why would I want to give oxygen to the idea of divorce?!”
I’m so glad you asked.
Making space for your partner to openly explore their ambivalence with a qualified discernment coach/counselor is absolutely in your interest. If you were to begin couples therapy when your partner doesn’t want to do that, they’ll just be going through the motions, and it’s much more likely to fail. To move forward successfully with couples therapy and relationship repair, you want your partner to have two feet in, and to be choosing — from their own motivation, not being pulled — to see whether, with good professional support and good effort from you both, your marriage can be healed and renewed. Couples who begin couples therapy after discernment counseling have a jump start on the healing process because both people already understand more about themselves and the relationship, and both people are on board and ready.
Ready to take the next step? Be sure to share this information with your partner to see if they’re interested in doing something that is not couples therapy — that is, not designed to try to fix your problems, but a process to see if your problems seem fixable and a way to move forward with whatever comes next.
And read on to decide on which format sounds right for you and to get more details…
Meet your relationship consultant, Rachel Zamore.
Hi, I’m Rachel, and I specialize in helping couples figure out how to get unstuck and start moving things forward in a new way.
Couples who work with me tend to be people with full and busy lives who are successful in many realms and care deeply about their children and families, but whose relationship has suffered damage or neglect, and the future is now uncertain. It’s never an easy time, and emotions are usually running strong. You want to do the right thing, but there’s also a tremendous sense of pressure and it can be hard to feel as clear and spacious as you would want to be when figuring out how to resolve a really tough situation. The intensity of it all can (and often does) exacerbate whatever negative loop you’ve been in, which only makes things harder.
This is where I come in.
Using a proven, structured process, I will help each of you find your footing and come back to the best in yourself so you can get things clarified from the place inside you that is whole and wise. Even if you’ve lost touch with that knowing, my specialty is helping people reclaim the best in themselves and make choices about the future from wholeness and with a more nuanced perspective on familiar problems.
Click below to learn more about my experience, philosophy and qualifications. I hope to connect with you soon, and look forward to answering any questions you might have.
Discernment Coaching (& Discernment Counseling) FAQs
Who Should Try Discernment Coaching?
Discernment coaching is a short-term structured process for couples where divorce/separation feels like a real possibility (or is already in process), but they’re not totally sure it’s the best or only choice, or the right call to make just yet. Discernment work is not appropriate when one person has already made a final decision to leave, nor in situations where someone feels pressured into participating or unsafe. (If Discernment Counseling has been recommended to you, you’re in the right place.)
Couples of all gender identities and sexual orientations are warmly welcome, and I have extensive experience working with a diverse clientele.
What Should We Expect?
In the discernment process, we respect your reasons for divorce while trying to open up the possibility of restoring the marriage to health. Your coach emphasizes 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. And if you choose to take divorce off the table for a while and work on the relationship, you’ll have a head start for the work ahead.
What Are the Logistics?
Standard format: The first session of is usually 2.5 hours, and any subsequent sessions are 2 hours. At the end of each session, the couple decides if they’d like to have another, with a limit of 5 sessions (6 in special circumstances). Each in-person session starts and ends with both partners together, and includes significant one-on-one time for each person with the coach.
Private Discernment Retreats (or “Intensives”): The retreat is scheduled for 10 or 12 face-to-face meeting hours spread out over 3-5 days in order to support time for reflection and integration between meetings. We will work with your scheduling needs to design the right schedule for your retreat. Each in-person session starts and ends with both partners together, and includes significant one-on-one time for each person with the counselor. Prior to the retreat, there is a private one-on-one conversation between each partner and the discernment coach, and the retreat fee includes a followup video meeting, as well as transition support appropriate to the path you choose. If your intensive takes place at our offices, we will have our meetings there, and you will be on your own for travel and lodging and meals. If you opt to meet at a resort or other destination, meetings will take place in a neutral space to be pre-arranged.
Is This Different from Couples Therapy?
Yes, very! Here are a few important differences:
- Purpose & goals. The goal here is clarity, not relationship repair. We’re aiming for each of you to have the opportunity to develop a more nuanced understanding of how your relationship got to this place and each of your roles within that. This is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, and the discernment process is specifically designed to support you in navigating this time and clarifying next steps from a place of intention, self-awareness, integrity and alignment. While some couples do continue on to couples therapy after discernment counseling or coaching, this is more of a pre-process to determine if that’s an appropriate next step. In couples therapy, there is generally an assumption that both partners have a shared agenda of improving the relationship, and this assumption not only doesn’t make space for the ambivalence one partner may be feeling, and can often make things in the relationship worse.
- Structure & format. The discernment process emphasizes self-reflection and exploration of options in one-on-one meetings with the counselor, rather than inviting emotional risk-taking in the room together, as is typical for couples therapy. Each discernment session begins and ends with both of you present, and there’s often a brief time together in the middle when we’re switching between individual meetings. This format allows each person to be really honest with themselves as they consider the situation, and to address their very different perspectives and concerns uniquely. In couples therapy, both partners are typically present at all times. When partners have different needs/agendas (deciding whether to stay in the relationship vs. trying their best to save the relationship), a process that includes significant solo time with the coach can be far more productive.
- Short-term by design. Unlike couples therapy, discernment coaching/counseling is time-limited (5-6 sessions maximum). It is a unique process with specialized skills and training. Some couples continue on to couples therapy after discernment counseling. In couples therapy, the engagement is open-ended.
- Not mental health treatment. Discernment coaching (and discernment counseling) is not designed as a therapeutic intervention, and is not considered mental health treatment. It is a process designed to support intentional and self-reflective decision-making about the next best steps for your relationship, and to help you bring your best self to this difficult (and often confusing) time. While I have training and experience as a couples therapist (and discernment counselor), my discernment services are only offered at this time in the framework of coaching. In couples therapy, services may be provided within a medical or mental health framework, and only by licensed providers with specialized training.
Why Discernment Coaching vs. Discernment Counseling?
Discernment Counseling is the groundbreaking approach developed by Dr. Bill Doherty and his team at the University of Minnesota’s Couples on the Brink Project. I learned Discernment Counseling directly from Dr. Doherty and was actually the first person to become a Certified Discernment Counselor in the world and the only person outside of academia authorized as a Trainer & Supervisor in the model. Discernment Counseling was developed as an advanced specialty training for licensed couples therapists, filling a gap that had long existed for ‘mixed-agenda couples’.
Given that I am no longer practicing psychotherapy or providing mental health treatment as a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, and as a reflection of some of the unique adaptations I have made to the modality over the 10 years I have been using and teaching it, I am now providing discernment coaching services. While the offering is quite similar to discernment counseling, the word coaching is aligned with my strength-based approach that is designed to support people in bringing their best self to a difficult time, and to finding a clear path forward with integrity and intention.
Coaching is not a substitute for psychotherapy, and discernment coaching is appropriate only for those couples and individuals where there is not the need for mental health treatment as part of the discernment process. Those needing psychotherapy or couples counseling services will be referred to appropriate licensed providers. Any use of the phrase “discernment counseling” on this website is intended only to convey that discernment coaching includes providing counsel, not to imply mental health treatment.
What’s the Cost?
A lot less than divorce, and a small investment for more understanding and closure and if you do end up ultimately pursuing divorce. Please email email@example.com for current pricing.
Why Choose Rachel Zamore for Discernment Coaching?
Couples often choose to work with me because I’m a nationally recognized leader in the field of discernment. Being in the crossroads where you’re not sure what’s going to happen with your marriage or family can be incredibly stressful, and it can be reassuring to know you’re in good hands as you work your way through that decision-making process.
You can read my bio here, and I’d be glad to set up a time where we can have an exploratory call to talk about the possibility of working together and what that would entail.
What if My Partner Isn't Willing?
If you are wanting to save your marriage and your partner is not willing to try discernment counseling or coaching at this time, I may still be able to help you best manage the situation with Relationship Consulting for Individuals. I can help you bring your best self to this difficult time, and help you learn more about yourself and the dynamics at play so you can avoid inadvertently making things worse. If just one person changes their moves in a dance, it can help shift the whole thing. Not always, but at least you’ll know you did your part.
What if I Don't Want to Involve My Partner?
If you’re considering leaving the relationship but don’t yet want to include your partner in that conversation, individual coaching is an option worth considering. I have a limited number of slots available for phone/online individual discernment coaching. Contact me by email to inquire.
How Do I/We Get Started?
The first step for the Discernment Daylong or the Private Discernment Retreat, is for each of you to set up a phone consultation with Rachel. There is a fee for those consultation calls, which is applied in full to the cost of a private retreat or your online discernment coaching, should you choose to go that route. You can self-schedule a phone consultation or an initial discernment session here.
What if I Have Other Questions?
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Experienced, unbiased, compassionate support for one of the most important decisions of your life.
Schedule a phone consultation to learn more.
Take the first step today by getting more details about discernment counseling. Get in touch today… I’m happy to answer your questions and help you move forward with intention and care.