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Every therapist deals with affairs—sexual, emotional, internet. And although most of us say we use a systems approach, it’s hard to maintain that perspective when cases are framed as involving a selfish Betrayer and a heartbroken Betrayed. Or a deprived, desperate partner and an indifferent, withholding mate.
Supporting the dignity and humanity of both parties gives a couple the best chance to investigate reconciliation. The common clinical idea that the Betrayer has to beg forgiveness and accept whatever relationship the Betrayed demands is a disservice to both parties, and it typically leads to client dropouts or treatment failure. Illuminating and challenging patients’ stereotypes about both power and sexuality is vital.
The current clinical focus on Attachment presents a limited understanding of the many and complex reasons that people have sex. The EFT model presents a simplistic model of sexual desire that simply does not fit with the lived experience of many of our patients. The post-infidelity clinical strategy of Full Therapeutic Disclosure reinforces dysfunctional power relationship dynamics, and focuses on a single kind of sexual betrayal, ignoring the wide variety of distorted sexual decision-making common in couples struggling with infidelity.
Course participants will learn fresh ways of looking at affairs, fidelity, and sexuality—so that they can better evaluate patients, sort out individual and relationship issues, and help people heal from the experiences of powerlessness, grief, rage, and damaged self-esteem that are common on both sides of infidelity.