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When Couples Therapy Can Become Harmful

There are important protocols and procedures that should be followed after uncovering infidelity, addiction, or other high-crisis relationship issues. One has to be very careful to not approach infidelity and addiction recovery In the same way one approaches other personal or relationship crises. In the days, weeks, and months following the discovery of an affair, porn addiction, sexual-acting-out behaviors, other addictions and learning about the subterfuge that often accompany these behaviors, there are a lot of messy emotions coming out at different times, threats being made, decisions and choices changing every minute or hour, defense mechanisms running wild, and overwhelmed survival systems firing off. The couples life and household can fall into chaos. The couple needs professional help and a support system immediately but some of the help and support needs to be to be trained in how to respond appropriately and productively to the chaos that ensues (and avoid blaming and shaming).

I have spent over a decade in the field of infidelity and addiction recovery and have seen many instances where “general” couples therapists may not appreciate the nuances, traumas, emotional manipulation, or emotional dysregulation that walks into their therapist office, post-discovery. Plus, an untrained therapist may not know the right time for the couple to seek their own individual work versus the right time to engage in couples repair work. Finding a therapist who specializes in addiction recovery, betrayal trauma, intimacy disorders, infidelity recovery, etc. is important for these crisis issues. There are very important protocols and order of operations that addiction and intimacy disorder specialists follow to prevent further trauma, improve recovery outcomes, and above all else, ensure safety for all parties involved.

In my newest youtube video, I go over in detail the questions I ask and the safety assessment I do every time a betrayed partner calls me asking for therapy. I help the viewer understand the signs of when its safer to pursue individual therapy and the signs that its may be appropriate timing to engage in couples repair work.


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