Spouses & Partners Treatment
Trauma-Based Treatment for Spouses and Partners of Sex Addicts
Discovering your partner’s infidelity is devastating. Whether you find out accidentally, your partner discloses to you, or you go in search of evidence to support your suspicions, the result is traumatizing. Your entire world as you know it changes. Nothing is as it seems, and you’re left feeling betrayed, angry and confused. How do you go on with life? What do you do to pick up the pieces and begin to feel whole again?
Spouse and partner treatment is designed to gently help you through the gradual process of healing. Whether or not your partner is in treatment for sex addiction, you can begin the process of healing very painful wounds caused by your partner’s problematic sexual behavior.
Caring, Compassionate Treatment
We are well equipped to assist in a partner’s healing process. Each partner’s situation is somewhat different, requiring a personalized treatment plan. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment approach for partners of sex addicts.
More than anything else, you need to know that you’re in a safe and secure environment, a place where you can feel free to discuss the deeply troubling feelings you’ve been experiencing as a result of your partner or spouse’s sexual behavior. Our compassionate, highly skilled therapists ensure that you feel nurtured and safe.
Treatment from a Trauma-Based Perspective
We approach partner treatment from a trauma-based perspective. The symptoms you experience as a result of your partner’s problematic sexual behavior are very similar to the symptoms experienced by those who have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
With PTSD, a person’s nervous system goes into a hyper-arousal state in response to a life-threatening event. The body shifts into “fight, flight or freeze” mode in order to ready itself for danger and support life-defending action. Symptoms associated with PTSD include hypervigilance (checking behavior), emotional reactivity, exaggerated startle response, sleep disturbance, nightmares, and intrusive or obsessive thoughts.
Even though your partner may not have physically threatened you, and your life may not have actually been in danger, your “life as you knew it” has been threatened. It may feel like you don’t even recognize your partner, your relationship or your life. You may have questions about what is real regarding other aspects of your partner’s behavior, like questioning if your partner was dishonest with money, his or her job, or about his or her sexual orientation.
What’s Involved in Spouse and Partner Treatment?
The general structure of spouse/partner care involves:
Comprehensive Assessment. The first step is to mitigate crises and attend to your immediate safety. In a private, individual therapy setting we’ll take your full psycho-social-sexual history in order to make an appropriate clinical assessment. We want to ensure that you’re able to tell your story in a place that is safe and nonjudgmental, and that we are attending to any compounding factors such as clinical depression or anxiety that may elevate your symptoms.
Trauma-Informed Care. Recognizing that you have undergone a traumatic experience, partner treatment will address any PTSD-like symptoms, helping you re-regulate your nervous system and redirect unhelpful thought patterns. We assist you in the healing process through evidence-based interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy, Trauma Resiliency Model, Somatic Experiencing, and mindfulness interventions. The exercises you are taught can be repeated at home or whenever you need them.
Boundary-Setting. An important part of partner treatment is helping you to set boundaries that can lead to the creation of your best life and relationships. These boundaries can help you re-establish a sense of safety and clarity for yourself in your life outside treatment.
Process Groups. We offer therapist-facilitated process groups where you can receive the support of others whose partners have been acting out sexually. When you share your story with others who have had similar experiences and are also involved in the healing process, you learn that you are not alone; and you aren’t “crazy” or making things up. Your intuition or radar about what your partner was doing was probably spot on. Sharing your story with others who understand, and receiving their support and validation is an important step in developing shame resiliency.
Self-Help Support. Participation in 12-step groups such as S-Anon and COSA is also highly recommended. In general, 12-step groups are a good way to process your grief and empower yourself to take responsibility for your own behavior.
The Healing Can Begin Now
Following the discovery or disclosure that your partner has been acting out sexually, it’s a normal reaction to feel grief, shame, confusion, anger, devastation and a variety of other extreme emotions, but you don’t have to stay stuck there. We’re here to help you take life-affirming steps toward your own recovery. Our resources can empower you and set you on a path to feeling whole again. To find out more about partner treatment, call us today.