Helping Couples Recover from Affairs
Presented by Pat Shelton, PhD, LMFT
Have you ever felt helpless when working with a couple whose presenting problem was infidelity? That’s not an uncommon response. According to an AAMFT survey, infidelity is one of five relational problems that (a) are encountered most frequently, (b) damage relationships the most, and (c) are most difficult to treat. It’s often very rewarding to help couples work through the crisis and aftermath of infidelity because many are highly motivated to create real and lasting changes. On the other hand, it’s extremely challenging to deal with issues like lack of remorse, volatile emotionality, uncertainty about whether a secret affair is still going on, and unremitting resistance by either or both partners to reestablishing trust.
Dr. Shelton will present research and current thinking on attachment style and other factors that relate to infidelity and recovery. We will discuss unique issues encountered in the three stages of treatment, such as working with a traumatized hurt partner, helping a reactive and defensive unfaithful partner develop empathy, handling the disclosure of affair details, and when to explore the relationship’s history and context of infidelity. We’ll also talk about other issues that can arise during the course of couple therapy, such as keeping secrets, confidentiality, and the benefits and potential difficulties of concurrent individual therapy. Discussion of significant issues raised in the presentation will be an important part of the program.
Pat Shelton, Ph.D., LMFT, practices in San Rafael, specializing in attachment-oriented psychodynamic individual therapy (using AEDP) and emotionally focused couple therapy (EFT). Pat has extensively researched strategies that help couples restore their relationships after an affair. She taught in the MFT program at Dominican University and the doctoral level Counseling Psychology Dept. at Argosy University, is an Advanced Practitioner in EFT, and Co-Director of Couple Therapy training at the Community Institute for Psychotherapy in San Rafael. Her article, “Helping Couples Recover from Affairs,” was published in The Therapist last year.
Networking: Evening Program meetings include informal networking, announcements and refreshments for the first 20-30 minutes.