Affair Recovery Counseling



When a partner has gone outside of the relationship for physical or emotional needs, it can have a devastating effect on the relationship. The betrayed partner usually experiences waves of different emotions including rage, disbelief, sadness, and despair. They begin to look at the relationship as "before the affair" and "after the after" or "before discovery" and "after discovery". It's as though everything they thought they knew about their partner and their history together is no longer true. On the other side, the offending partner often finds themselves caught in cycles of regret, shame, anger, and despair. This partner often desperately wants the relationship to "go back to normal" and put the affair behind them. Talking about the affair and their choice to go outside the relationship is often extremely difficult for them.

While an affair is a devastating event, there is a path to healing if both partners are committed to the relationship. The saying "Time heals all wounds" does not apply in the case of affairs. The sooner the affair can be addressed and treated, the better. We offer the following outline as a treatment plan for affair recovery. Each couple will have their own specific needs that will be addressed during treatment. This outline includes four phases or stages of therapy. Each phase of therapy is outlined below and a suggested frequency of a minimum of one session per week is recommended.


Phase 1 - Managing The Discovery



1. Gathering history of the couple
2. Gathering history of each individual
3. Taking responsibility - Full disclosure of secrets and hearing the story of the affair to the degree the offended partner wishes to hear about it
4. Ending the affair and disconnecting from the affair partner
5. Learning to live without trust (for now) and managing the lack of trust
6. "Walls vs. Windows" - shutting out the affair partner and letting the spouse/committed partner in (* concept taken from Shirley Glass' book "Not Just Friends" - highly recommended reading)
7. Dealing with anger, anxiety, shock and despair as well as shame and self-loathing
8. Exploring the motivations and desires to keep the relationship together
9. Developing a collaborative, individualized plan to move through the phases of treatment
10. Discussing referrals for individual therapy as needed


Phase 2 - Relationship Review


1. Reviewing the couples' relationship history
2. Reviewing the history of each individual
3. Exploring and understanding how the relationship became strained
4. Explore vulnerabilities that may have contributed to an affair
5. How was trust established originally and how can it begin to recover



Phase 3 - Working Through


1. Integrating what has been learned from Phase 1 and Phase 2
2. Developing and implementing "trust-building" behaviors
3. Learning new ways to comfort and be available for the betrayed partner
4. Helping the affair partner reveal thoughts and feelings that may be difficult
5. Processing feelings around how this event has changed and/or improved the couples' relationship
6. Integrating new skills in communication, honesty and vulnerability
7. Creating genuine opportunities for forgiveness and/or acceptance



Phase 4 - Consolidation


1. Reviewing of Phases 1 through 3
2. Addressing how the affair has changed each partner for better or worse
3. Practicing new skills and behaviors outside of therapy on a consistent basis
4. Seeking additional help and support with individual or group counseling whenever appropriate

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