Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is discernment counseling the same as marriage counseling? 
A: No. Discernment counseling is short term help for deciding whether to divorce or work more on the marriage. Marriage counseling, which is generally opened ended in length, aims to help people solve their problems and restore their marriage to health.

Q: How do you determine success in discernment counseling? 
A: Although it would be wonderful if all troubled marriages could become healthy and satisfying for both parties, we understand that this is not always possible. Therefore, our basic criterion for success is that the spouses come to a deeper understand of themselves and what’s happened to their marriage, and have reached a decision that allows them to move ahead with their lives in a healthy way for themselves and their families. In some cases, this deeper understanding opens doors to possible reconciliation, and in other cases one or both parties decide that divorce is their best option. We try to show couples what a reconciliation path might look like for them, but we honor the choices that people make for themselves.

Q: Is the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project only for couples with minor children? 
A: Although the original impetus for the project was concern for divorcing where there are children, the project is open to couples with no children or whose children are grown up.

Q: Will the project work with couples who are not legally married? 
A: Although the project came out of concern for married couples in the legal divorce system, other couples who consider themselves married will be offered services if they ask for help. This could include cohabiting couples and same sex couples, particularly if they are raising children and concerned about the impact of a break up on their children.

Q: How is the project funded? 
A: Initial funding has been provided by the state of Minnesota via a five dollar surcharge on marriage license fees. This funding is for developing innovative services for couples on the brink of divorce and for training professionals to deliver those services. The funding does not cover direct services to couples.

Q: Where are the services delivered? 
A: Currently, discernment counseling through the MN Couples on the Brink Project is primarily offered in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. If you live outside the state of Minnesota, please visit the Directory of Discernment Counselors, or the Additional Resources page.

Q: Are there referral options for couples who want a faith-based approach to marriage counseling? 
A: Upon the request of the couple for faith-based counseling, we work to help them find qualified counselors who share their faith orientation.