Couples Therapy for Extramarital Affairs

Couples Therapy for Extramarital Affairs

by Don-David Lusterman

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Couples Therapy for Extramarital Affairs by Don-David Lusterman

Perhaps the greatest trauma one may experience in married life, with the exception of a mate's or child's death, is the discovery of a partner's infidelity. Because most people enter into marriage with the unquestioned belief that both partners will remain faithful to one another, the discoverer's basic beliefs about the relationship are painfully questioned and trust in the partner is virtually destroyed. The discovered partner often experiences intense shame and behaves defensively as a result, leading to a further downward spiral in the relationship. Couples therapy in these cases must begin with an acknowledgment of the trauma experienced by the discoverer. The therapist must help both partners understand the precise nature of the trauma occasioned by the infidelity and its predictable effects. Integrating this psychoeducational focus with a strongly empathic attitude toward the discoverer's pain models for the offending mate the empathy needed to support his or her partner and provides a basis for understanding how healing can occur. The therapist can also provide useful structure during this emotionally chaotic time by explaining to the couple a stage or phase model of how therapy will proceed. In the first phase of treatment, the goal is to restore trust; in the second, to examine the underlying marital conflicts that contributed to the affair. These two phases of therapy typically take between 5 and 10 sessions. The final phase of therapy is devoted to building communication skills, increasing partner empathy and support, and resolving any issues that remain. The outcome of the process is for the couple to have a healthier marriage or a more constructive divorce. In the first phase of therapy, the therapist takes a very active role. Almost invariably, the discoverer enters therapy with the profound sense that he or she is the offending mate's victim. The therapist begins by accepting this perception, rather than labeling

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781557988447
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Publication date: 01/28/2002
Product dimensions: 4.64(w) x 8.06(h) x 1.17(d)

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