Join in on this Webinar Hosted by the Center for Healthy Sex (Read More)
Is your relationship suffering from the wounds of infidelity? Then this intensive may be just what you need to help your relationship heal. Click here for more information.
There are many ways infidelity can impact a relationship – a single affair, an emotional affair, an online relationship, and even sex addiction. However, despite what form it takes, it typically creates a deep wound in the couple relationship. Left unattended, this wound likely will fester, creating more problems and conflict in the relationship. We hope these videos will help give you more insight and direction as you navigate the wounds of betrayal. Please contact us for more information on our services regarding affair recovery and sexual addiction.
VIDEO 1: Making Sense of Infidelity [webinar]
In this 40 minute video, Carrie and Josh, discuss several important aspects that a couples often experience after impacted by infidelity.
Video 2: A Message to the Wounded Partner
In this brief video, licensed therapist, Joshua Nichols, has an important message for spouses or partners that have been wounded by a cheating spouse/partner.
Video 3: 5 MYTHS of INFIDELITY
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE OVER!! In this video, licensed therapist, Joshua Nichols, addresses a few misconceptions people often have concerning infidelity.
Video 4: Affair Recovery Couples Intensive
In this video, licensed therapists, Carrie and Josh, discuss this unique service for couples who are suffering from the impact of infidelity, chronic infidelity, and/or sex addiction.
“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s a day you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it.”― Margaret Thatcher
Many people who are in recovery for various reasons – drug addiction, infidelity, alcoholism, sex/porn addiction, etc. – are having a hard time experiencing success in their efforts. They often feel discouraged because they continue to relapse and/or simply struggle with an ever present darkness that had made its home within you; kind of like a parasite that has embedded itself within your flesh consistently causing discomfort and disarray.
If this describes you, then, when it comes to your recovery efforts, you are probably experiencing feelings like discouragement, helplessness, hopelessness, and maybe even despair. From my experience as a licensed therapist that specializes in helping people be successful in recovery, the main obstacles that are preventing people from having success in their recovery are (1) the lack of structure, and (2) the lack of focus. It’s important to note that the lack of focus is often due to not having the appropriate structure or direction in place. THAT STOPS TODAY!!
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
― Zig Ziglar
In this article, I will address what we, at Family Solutions Counseling, call THE 5 PILLARS of RECOVERY SUCCESS. When you implement these pillars in your recovery, I believe you’ll find yourself progressing in ways you haven’t experienced.
PLEASE BE SURE TO READ THE BONUS TIP AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE!!
PILLAR #1: Individual Therapy (and Couples Therapy if in a relationship)
This is often a hard step for people to take, but it is an important one. It is often very hard to see the forest for the tress when you are in recovery. A professional counselor is trained to pull you out of the forest and help you take a look from above you can see bigger picture, which will help you develop points of intervention.
Yes, if you are married or in a relationship, then you’ll eventually need to consider couples therapy. We highly believe in treating all entities involved; thus, when a client that’s in a couple relationship enters into recovery and takes part of our program, we consider there to be 3 entities that need to be tended to – the client (e.g., the addict), the wounded spouse (e.g., partner of the addict), and the couple relationship.
“Think of your head as an unsafe neighborhood; don’t go there alone.”
― Augusten Burroughs, Dry
Don’t let this overwhelm you (see bonus tip at the end of this article), simply begin with finding a therapist that specializes in the recovery issue you are specifically dealing with.
PILLAR #2: Group Therapy
There is a strange magic that is involved in group therapy. It is HIGHLY important for recovery success in my opinion (article: The Magic of Group Therapy by Joshua Nichols, LMFT, CSAT). After you find a therapist that you feel comfortable with, ask him/her to help you find a quality, well-ran group that you can be part of. In my practice, we specialize in sex addiction treatment and recovery; thus, we run several groups for our clients (and clients of other therapists’). As a facilitator of these groups, I, personally, have seen progress and change in ways that I simply have not seen with clients in individual therapy.
PILLAR #3: Support Groups
Support groups are different than therapy groups. The biggest difference is that they are peer-led group, while therapy groups are facilitated by a trained therapist. Also, most recovery support groups follow a 12-step model. These groups include, but not limited to, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Sexaholics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, S-Anon, Recovery Couples Anonymous, and Celebrate Recovery.
This is often where most people start their recovery journey, but sometimes they fail to add in the other pillars. Support groups are highly valuable and should be a part of your recovery plan; but support groups alone often don’t provide you with the structure and focus you need to be successful in your recovery. Therefore, DON’T give up your support group, but simply look at adding another pillar to your plan.
PILLAR #4: Accountability
The great thing about the first three pillars is that accountability is built in to those processes. You are scheduling counseling appointments and attending your groups (therapy and support), doing your homework assignments, implementing your newly learn skills, and actively developing new habits. You can see how the first three pillars can hold you accountable to your recovery. However, more is needed. You’ll need to ask your therapist to help you develop accountability outside of these meetings or events. You need to understand, for example, the differences in slips and relapses. You need to understand what boundaries should be put in place to help you in your recovery as well as your couple recovery. I know this sounds overwhelming (again, see bonus tip), but a trained therapist can help you develop this as part of your recovery.
PILLAR #5: Psycho-Education
Information is power. Start reading quality literature on the issue of concern. When you can see there is a science behind the development of your struggle, and there is a science behind the patterns you, yourself, are caught up in, then you’ll begin to see there is a science behind successful recovery. THERE IS A WAY OUT!! Here are some reads I recommend for recovery of sex addiction, which is my specialty in working with recovering clients:
For the Sex Addict:
Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes
Always Turned On by Rob Weiss & Jennifer P. Schneider
Sexual Anorexia by Patrick Carnes
Wired for Intimacy by William Struthers
Stop Sex Addiction by Milton Magness
For Partners of Sex Addicts
BONUS TIP: Add ONE iron in the fire at a time!!
This is very important. From my experience, people tend to drop out of recovery because they feel overwhelmed with all that is involved in successful recovery. I can’t express it enough – START with ONE PILLAR; once that is established, then move on the next. If you try to implement ALL FIVE PILLARS at once, then you will likely get overwhelmed and over-worked. Please be kind to yourself as you start this process.
“No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
I wish you well in your recovery journey. Feel free to contact me if you have questions about this article and/or the recovery program we have developed for sex/porn addiction treatment here at Family Solutions Counseling. Blessings.
~ Joshua Nichols ~
Licensed Martial & Family Therapist
Certified Sex Addiction Therapist
If you are a spouse or partner in a couple relationship and you have experienced betrayal by your significant other, then you might consider incorporating a disclosure session as part of your treatment process.
What Does “Deep Betrayal” Look Like?
We consider “deep betrayal” to be any act committed by a partner or spouse that severs the lines of trust in the couple relationship and strongly injures the emotional attachment of the couple. Examples include, but not limited to:
Emotional Affairs | Physical Affairs | Chronic Sexual Infidelity | Financial Infidelity
What Is the Purpose of a Disclosure?
In a nutshell, a disclosure session is a process designed to aid in providing the betrayed partner/spouse peace of mind. Damaging secrets have a way of surfacing in relationships; thus, it is our belief that it is imperative that the offending party reveal these secrets in a controlled setting so that they can move forward in recovery with minimal worry that more secrets may surface in the future. Thus, if you are doubting your spouse’s honesty, then a therapeutic disclosure may be what you and your relationship needs in order to move forward. Additionally, the offending spouse may also experience a sense of relief and freedom as keeping secrets is often very burdensome which can hinder recovery.
Another purpose of this event is that it serves at ritual for transition. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to this type of betrayal. But, one thing that most certainly has to happen for couple healing and reconciliation, is that the couple must say goodbye to the old and tattered and start transitioning toward the new and unknown. The disclosure session serves the couple by giving them a strong shove forward, leaving behind a relationship poisoned by secrecy and deception, and welcoming a new relationship built on honesty, transparency, and integrity.
CAUTION: Staggered Disclosure Is More Harmful than Helpful
What is staggered disclosure? Often times, when a traumatic, hidden secret is revealed or discovered, the betrayed spouse is often overcome with painful emotion, which generates many MANY questions. Their imaginations often take them to very dark places that can be terribly overwhelming. To end their pain and to stop their imagination, they NEED their questions answered. They NEED IT ALL TO STOP! Thus, it is common that the wounded spouse ask more and more questions over the course of time. Their intent is pure in that they simply believe that the right information will make the pain subside. Unfortunately, this attempt to “feel better” often ends up exacerbating the wound, thereby, creating even more trauma.
Staggered disclosure is when the offending partner, over time, discloses more and more details about their infidelities. Much of the time, in the initial disclosure (i.e., when they were caught or discovered), the offending partner often withholds information. Some of that information is important for couple recovery and healing, and some of it is just white noise. Regardless, the wounded partner often will eventually assume or presume that there “is more s/he is not telling me;” ergo, more questions ensue. The offending spouse, often riddled with guilt and shame, will start answering these questions without giving thought to the notion that (1) certain information really has “no therapeutic value,” thus, potentially creating a deeper wound, or (2) the information disclosed is appropriate, but since it is done at different points in time, it keeps the initial wound open and leaves the wounded spouse thinking, “I wonder what else s/he hasn’t told me that will eventually surface and bite me on the ass when I least expect it.”
If Not Staggered Disclosure, then WHAT?!
For the reasons listed above, this is why we recommend a therapeutic disclosure. This type of disclosure is NOT driven by the hurt and pain harbored by the wounded spouse, but instead, it is driven by the desire to get the proper form of medicine for this deep emotional wound.
What’s Involved in a Therapeutic Disclosure?
Therapeutic disclosures may be done differently depending on who is facilitating it. We recommend you have a CSAT (certified sex addiction therapist) conduct your disclosures. Other providers with different types of certifications may be able to conduct an adequate disclosure, but we recommend CSATs because we know CSATs are trained in this process.
So, a therapeutic disclosure often involves the following, but formatting may vary based on the provider:
- 2 therapists trained in facilitating disclosures
- both partners partaking in couple recovery
- 2-4 individual prep sessions for each partner
- 1-2 hour disclosure session with all 4 parties present
Each partner will usually spend some time with an therapist partaking in the VERY IMPORTANT prep work involved in order for the disclosure event to be beneficial. The therapists should coordinate an agreed upon day and time to have the disclosure event; thus, the prep work needs to be completed before that time arrives. In my practice, we block out 2 full hours for the actual disclosure. Some times we finish sooner, but two hours gives us plenty of time to complete the process. It’s important that you discuss this process in detail with your therapist. Since the process will look differently from therapist to therapist, make sure you understand his/her unique process and the purpose for each element. You need to be confident in the service that is being provided.
What SUCKS About a Therapeutic Disclosure?
Waiting. This is probably one of the hardest parts for the wounded spouse. Anybody experiencing the level of pain they are experiencing really wants the pain to stop NOW!! As you can see, even if you were able to get into see a therapist right away, there is still prep work that needs to be done prior to the disclosure. HOPEFUL MESSAGE: There will always be some wait time; however, if your urgency level is through the roof, you may be able to complete this process in a week or two.
Intensity. The emotional atmosphere of this event is often VERY emotional. The couple more than likely will leave tired and emotionally exhausted. As a therapist who has facilitated several therapeutic disclosures, I often leave tired and emotionally spent as well, which is why I like to schedule them at the end of the day. HOPEFUL MESSAGE: Although this part is very scary, intensity is treatment often helps give the couple momentum. In other words, I would worry about the quality of the event if the couple did NOT feel or experience a heightened level of emotional intensity.
Bitter-Sweetness. At the close of a therapeutic disclosure, the couple may feel a lot of things. Unfortunately, complete trust and peace is usually NOT one of them. Thus, the couple, more often than will not, will leave the event feeling glad it is over, but also understanding there is more work to do. HOPEFUL MESSAGE: No, a therapeutic disclosure, does not “fix” things whatsoever. Yes, there is more work to do. However, this event is often very difficult and challenging. It takes a lot of courage, commitment, and love. Our hope for couples who complete this portion of treatment leave feeling proud of themselves for the courage and strength displayed; relieved as they have taken a very important step in building a relationship with no secrets; and hopeful as they leave with a clearer picture of where they are headed in this journey.
Cost. This service often falls in the realm of “expensive.” However, most recovery-related forms of treatment are expensive for various reasons. HOPEFUL MESSAGE: We tend to invest in the things that are important to us. It is a very encouraging move when a couple (or individual) has the courage to love themselves enough to financially invest in their own health and well-being. Trust me, YOU’RE WORTH IT!
I hope the information you find here aids you in your recovery journey. If you want to know more about therapeutic disclosures or other services we offer, feel free to contact me at your convenience. Meanwhile, I wish you well in your recovery journey. Here are few book recommendations to learn more about therapeutic disclosures.
Licensed Marital & Family Therapist
Certified Sex Addiction Therapist