Ann O’Brien addresses the Roundtable on Couples on the Brink

Aug 12, 2011

Senior Manager, Centacare Catholic Social Services, Diocese of Parramatta


It was interesting to hear from Dr Bill Doherty regarding the work with couples on the brink of divorce – or what he has termed “mixed agenda couples”. The presentation about Discernment Counselling was a clear structured intervention model that can assist a counsellor/therapist working with couples who may have ambivalence about separation and divorce. The techniques used in this model are not new and used by counsellors working with these couples – however the structure presented was a clear and planned process that would assist counsellors in working with couples that have ambivalence.

As part of the discussion between participants it was confirmed that more emphasis is needed on a possible reconciliation question and support for couples “on the brink” of divorce. As part of training and supervision in marriage and family counselling, emphasis needs to be in supporting marriages wherever there is hope for reconciliation. We are currently developing a resource for counsellors to assist them in recognising these opportunities with couples and ideas and strategies to use in these counselling situations.