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How Therapists Can Help Couples Cross the Threshold of Vulnerability

One of the topics emerging in the field of sex addiction and Partner trauma right now is the idea of couples crossing the threshold of vulnerability again after betrayal. The addiction treatment field and partner trauma field have made great strides in keeping addicts in recovery and making sure that partners are finally feeling heard and validated. Both the addicted partners and the betrayed partners are making tremendous progress in the core tasks that are required to get them back on a level playing field emotionally, where the addict is no longer keeping secrets, the partner feels validated, and amends are made.

Though we’ve done well in helping each partner within a couple on an individual basis, we are just beginning to apply modalities that help couples to heal together. Both couples and therapists seem to be struggling with how to begin that process.

What Does It Take to Trust Again?

“Can I trust you again?” is the question that is top of mind as couples begin to take steps toward reconnecting. It’s a matter of being willing to cross the threshold of vulnerability again, and there’s no easy way to do that. It’s an act of courage.

One of the things the couple has to do is make a decision about whether they are going to move Forward or not. So many couples are stuck in a phase of indecision. They decide not to leave each other, which is not the same as deciding to move forward in vulnerability again. I think as therapists we need to start examining ways to support couples in making the decision to stay and truly move forward or go. When therapists meet their betrayed client’s primary concern—“If I trust him again, am I going to get betrayed again?”— they often resort back to “the individual as client” modality. They begin to focus on the old narrative of the betrayal and making sure the addict stays in recovery. If the couple feels helpless and frustrated the therapist often does too. They then inadvertently move away from a couple’s paradigm and into an individual client paradigm where they end up rehearsing and reinvigorating the old strategies the couple used for coping with the pain of the betrayal. Many of these paradigms are helpful on an individual basis, but they don’t help them move into vulnerability again as a couple.

Therapists don’t lead enough discussions about how the partners can make a new decision about moving forward as a couple.

One of the critical pieces in making the decision to move forward in vulnerability is helping the couple grieve the loss of the first romance together. Because, the truth of the matter is that once there has been a betrayal, the first romance is over. It is not the same anymore and will not be the same again. That is often a painful reality for both the addict and their partner to face.

I designed a couples workshop at The Meadows that guides couples through the grieving process. It is incredibly powerful. Couples do an art therapy project where they say goodbye to their first marriage. They also destroy a symbol of their first marriage, then take the pieces and reformed them into another object that represents their moving forward. Saying goodbye to the first marriage and making a new decision about what moving forward would look life for them, has proven to be exactly what most of the couples require to truly begin to heal together.

Content Source: Couples Retreat Az

This post first appeared on Couples Bootcamp: Working It Out In The Desert, please read the originial post: here

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How Therapists Can Help Couples Cross the Threshold of Vulnerability


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