Couples Therapy for Infidelity
Infidelity has a devastating effect on relationships and is a common reason couples seek therapy. It causes grief and relation problems not just with the partner but also the children and has been found to be associated with depression, anxiety, PTSD and lowered self-esteem.
Still, a majority of relationships survive infidelity, and many marriages can become stronger and more intimate with couples therapy for infidelity.
Generally, infidelity can be defined as any type of secret emotional, sexual or romantic behavior that violates the exclusivity of a committed romantic relationship. It can be divided into three types: sexual, emotional or combined sexual and emotion infidelity that constitutes a breach of trust. It can be caused by a multitude of factors that vary widely among individuals, and can be affected by personal, relational and cultural influences.
Couples therapy for infidelity involves a specialized form of counseling that aims to help partners navigate the complex emotional landscape following an act of infidelity in a romantic relationship. Generally, the goal is to promote healing, improve communication, and help the couple decide how to move forward, which might mean rebuilding and strengthening the relationship or, in some cases, parting ways amicably.
Here’s an overview of what couples therapy for infidelity might involve:
- In the early sessions, Dr. Pazak typically assesses the couple’s relationship history, the context of the infidelity, and the current emotional state of each partner. She also helps the couple set goals for therapy, which may range from understanding why the infidelity occurred to rebuilding trust or deciding to separate.
- Initially, Dr. Pazak’s primary task is to establish a space where both partners feel safe and respected, ensuring that conversations remain productive and as non-confrontational as possible. This is critical, as discussions about infidelity are often charged with emotion.
- Pazak will help the couple explore the circumstances surrounding the infidelity. This might involve discussions about dissatisfaction in the relationship, individual psychological issues, societal or cultural factors, and the specifics of the infidelity itself. This is not to justify the act but to understand it in a broader context and help to develop empathy and hope in each partner.
- Pazak will help both partners to manage and process the intense emotions that arise after infidelity, such as anger, betrayal, guilt, and shame. She use various techniques to help clients express, tolerate, and understand these emotions.
- In addition to joint sessions, Dr. Pazak may also have individual sessions with each partner. This allows for exploration of personal issues that might be contributing to the relationship problems and can be especially useful when dealing with infidelity.
- A major component of couples therapy is often teaching partners how to communicate more effectively, honestly, and empathetically. This is essential when addressing and recovering from infidelity.
- Another important component is teaching coping strategies for dealing with the pain of infidelity and guide the couple in their healing process, whether they choose to stay together or not.
- Pazak will also help the couple to establish new patterns of interaction and set boundaries that protect against future betrayals and promote a healthy relationship dynamic.
- If the couple decides to stay together, a significant portion of the therapy will likely be dedicated to rebuilding trust. This can be a lengthy and challenging process, involving consistent honesty, reliability, and transparency from the partner who committed the infidelity, and patience and forgiveness from the other partner. Dr. Pazak will work with them on strengthening their bond and improving their relationship in various domains, such as emotional intimacy, sexual satisfaction, communication, and shared responsibilities.
- Sometimes, couples decide that it is in their best interest to part ways. In these cases, Dr. Pazak can help facilitate an amicable separation, helping the couple to communicate effectively and minimize harm as they navigate the process of breaking up.
- Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT): EFT is aims to help couples identify and understand their emotional cycles and patterns to help them understand their emotional responses and fosters a deeper emotional connection between the partners.
- Gottman Method: Based on extensive research this method involves a complete assessment of the relationship and integrates interventions to disarm verbal conflicts, increase intimacy, remove barriers and create empathy and understanding between the couple to strengthen their relationship, including trust and commitment.
- Imago Relationship Therapy: This approach focuses on the subconscious reasons why we are drawn to our partner based on our childhoods and provides tools to help couples relate in healthier ways. It involves both behavioral and spiritual techniques.
- Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT): Here the focus is on identifying and changes negative behavior patterns and aims to foster an appreciation for the other’s perspective and teach skills to communicate and solve problems more effectively.
There are other approaches as well. Each therapeutic approach offers different strategies and techniques based on varying theories about relationships, emotions, and communication. Dr. Pazak will tailor her approach to the needs and goals of the couple.
Schedule a couples therapy session
Dr. Susan Pazak is a qualified and experienced therapist with vast experience in working with couples dealing with infidelity. She has a profound understanding of relationships and what makes for a healthy relationship. She works hard to develop rapport with both parties, so they feel comfortable with her which is essential to the success of couples therapy for infidelity. Schedule an in-person therapy session at Dr. Pazak’s Laguna Niguel office in Orange County or schedule a virtual therapy session.
- Park, Y., Park, S.W. Partner commitment moderates the association between commitment and interest in romantic alternatives. Curr Psychol 40, 1439–1447 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-018-0079-1
At a Glance
Dr. Susan Pazak, MD
- Bachelors, Masters and PhD in Clinical Psychology
- Voted best psychologist in Laguna Niguel 3 years
- Studied marital & sexual satisfaction in couples
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