Why Meeting Your Partner’s Therapist Helps Relationship Repair After Betrayal

Following the discovery of intimate betrayal, it is usually advisable for both of you to seek individual support and therapy, in addition to seeking help for relationship repair. For betrayed partners, it is normal to have questions and even anxiety about the professional from whom your partner is seeking help. You want to know that your partner is seeing someone qualified to help them understand what led them to deceive you (and spoiler alert - the truthful answer is NEVER “because of you”). You want to know your partner’s therapist not only has your partner’s health and safety in mind, but yours, too. You also want to know that your partner’s therapist supports your coupleship.

Betrayal is a relational trauma. All three entities are traumatized by betrayal in different ways: you - by the betrayal, your partner - by the discovery of their secret, and your relationship - by the rupture of your intimate bond, which is rooted in trust. Good therapists who are treating individuals are working with the whole person, who is part of a coupleship. As intimate partners, we are inextricably connected to and affected by one another - mentally, emotionally, and physically. Each person is affected by the health and well-being of the other, and together you co-create the health and well-being of your coupleship.

Therefore, it is not only a reasonable request to ask to join a session in order to meet your partner’s therapist, but even beneficial for your relationship to do so. The more reassurance you have that your partner is in “good hands,” the more you can support their individual work.

Reasonable reasons to request meeting your partner’s therapist include:

To be reassured that your partner’s therapist has specialty-training in betrayal trauma and problematic sexual behavior. Qualified therapists, such as Certified Sex Addiction Therapists, help their clients gain self-awareness, take accountability for their problematic behavior, and develop healthy coping strategies to replace dysfunctional coping.

To be reassured that your partner’s therapist understands that betrayal creates trauma for the betrayed, and that they will help your partner understand this as well.

To know that your partner’s therapist understands that what your partner shares about you in therapy is their perception, which may differ greatly from how you would describe yourself or what you experienced.
In other words, the therapist knows that they are only getting “one side of the story” when it comes to you
and your partnership.

To know that your partner’s therapist supports relationship repair, and is not working at cross-purposes with any repair work you are engaged in as a couple. In return, you need to accept that your partner’s therapist may be educating your partner about the need for having respectful communication and safety in your relationship, which needs to be a two-way street.

To know that your partner’s therapist is open to connecting with your individual therapist and your couples’ therapist to share their professional approach and goals for the therapy. In this way, therapists form a support team, even when they are not literally working together.

(Please note that therapists must have signed authorization from clients in order to share clients’ personal
protected health information.)

The purpose of meeting your partner’s therapist is not for you to know what your partner has said in therapy, for you to tell the therapist what YOU want them to focus on in therapy, or to share your thoughts about and experience with your partner in great detail.

The overarching goal of meeting your partner’s therapist is for you to have a sense of reassurance and confidence in the professional with whom your partner is working, and for the therapist to meet you and hear any pressing concerns you may have about your partner’s mental and emotional health and well-being.

(Note: Therapists’ professional standards and statutes usually allow them to receive information about clients, even though they may not be able to share in any way or even confirm that someone is a client, without the client’s written authorization to do so. Having said that, some therapists prefer to not receive information from or have communication with clients’ partners or family members. This stance is generally a personal preference to be respected, rather than a professional requirement to be met.)

Questions that may be helpful to guide your meeting with your partner’s therapist:

● How would you describe your training and orientation to working with people who have problematic sexual behavior and/or betrayed their partner?
● Do you conduct a formal, structured assessment when seeing people who have engaged in betrayal behavior?
● If so, have you done such an assessment with my partner?
● If yes, are you able to share your conclusions?
● What is the focus of therapy at this time? (Examples may be, preparing a disclosure, discussing family of origin, developing healthy coping strategies to replace dysfunctional ones).
● What are the short-term and long-term goals for therapy? How will the attainment of goals be measured?
● What do you recommend my partner do in addition to therapy with you? (Groups, recovery meetings, reading, podcasts, etc)
● What is your policy about communicating with my partner’s therapists or our couples’ therapist ?
● What information would be helpful for me to share with you about myself or our relationship?
● What would be your preferred way for me to share information I feel is essential for you to know, should that be the case in the future? (e.g., leave a confidential voicemail, put in an email, schedule a meeting)?
● May I share with you my top three concerns about my partner/our relationship at this time?
(Clarify that you have no expectation that they will address these concerns with you, rather you are sharing this information for them to be aware of and consider, as they see fit.). 

If you are considering having a Therapeutic Disclosure of your partner’s betrayal behavior, you may wish to ask:

● What is the process of preparing for and having a Full Therapeutic Disclosure/FTD?
● Do you use any written materials for the FTD, such as workbooks?
● What is the general timeline for FTD?
● What input do you need from me as a partner?
● How and when would you like to receive my questions to be addressed in the FTD (I am working with my therapist to determine my questions)?
● Who will be present for the disclosure? Where will it take place?
● Am I able to have a support person or my therapist present/online during disclosure?
● Will we have a polygraph before or after the disclosure?
● If so, who will do the polygraph?
● Will there be an opportunity for me to make and give an Impact Statement after the FTD?
● Do you work with clients to address restitution?

Finally, the first conversation about meeting your partner’s therapist should be with your partner.

Hopefully this article will help you enable your partner to understand that meeting their therapist is a way for you to have more peace of mind about their personal journey toward health, and that will increase your sense of safety, which is necessary for relationship repair.

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