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Counseling Couples on the Brink of Divorce: A New Approach to Couples Therapy


Gain a better understanding of how to move couples forward when helping them face difficult truths in their lives.

It's not easy when a couple enters treatment unsure about whether to dissolve a marriage or try to save it---especially when each partner leans in a different direction. These 'mixed agenda' couples present challenges for even the most skilled couples therapist, particularly since successful couples therapy usually depends on both partners being at least nominally invested in working on the relationship. This topic will demonstrate a new approach called Discernment Counseling that helps partners develop clarity and confidence about whether to divorce or work on their relationship in therapy, while avoiding the pitfall of trying to start couples therapy in the face of ambivalence about the future of the marriage and about the value of therapy for the marriage.



William J. Doherty, Ph.D.

William J. Doherty, Ph.D.

University of Minnesota

  • Professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota
  • Director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project
  • Co-founder of The Doherty Relationship Institute
  • Author of 14 books and more than 150 journal articles
  • Winner of the Significant Contribution to the Field of Marriage and Family Therapy from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Family Therapy Academy

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