Discovering that a spouse or partner has been deceptive and engaged in secretive sexual behaviors has been described as one of most painful betrayals a person can experience. The feelings of confusion, disbelief, and panic are just a few of the distressing traumatic responses that partners of sex addicts exhibit as they realize that their trusted mate has lived a secret life. For many partners, the intrusive and repetitive thoughts, rage, and profound sadness about the sex addict’s behavior can leave lasting emotional scars and PTSD-like symptoms, if left untreated. Because so much of the initial focus within a relationship is on helping the sex addict stabilize and ensure they start treatment, partners of sex addicts may feel “stuck” and unsure of where they can turn to address their needs, fears and trauma. At Full Heart Recovery, we have met with far too many partners of sex addicts who initially sought support from professionals that encouraged them to do things like watch pornography with their partner or give into every sexual request their partner makes, thus further traumatizing the partner and emboldening the sex addict to continue acting out sexually.
As Certified Sex Addictions Therapists, the clinical team at Full Heart Recovery is trained to support the partners of sex addicts as they work through the trauma they have experienced and help to establish boundaries with the sex addict so that they can begin to feel safe within their relationship and begin the healing process. Healing for the partner of a sex addict, the sex addict, and managing their relationship are each separate issues. It is critically important that each individual participate in their own therapy to determine if they wish to repair and heal their coupleship or work towards an amicable and healthy divorce. As a treatment team, Full Heart Recovery therapists collaborate (only when authorized by the clients) to help couples meet their individual and joint goals. We believe that in the early stages of recovery, the couple should have a few joint sessions in order to establish guidelines, set boundaries, establish safety for the partner, and help the couple communicate effectively. As each individual continues healing and recovering, the couple may choose to pursue weekly couples therapy session with an expert sex addictions therapist.
Partners of sex addicts who wish to start their own healing at Full Heart Recovery have numerous options for support. Your first appointment at Full Heart Recovery will last between 75 to 90 minutes. During this session, a trained and licensed mental health professional conducts an assessment, with a specific focus on screening for trauma symptoms and helping the partner set boundaries regarding how they wish to interact with the sex addicted individual in their life. We find that because no partner of a sex addict “signed up” to be in a relationship with a sex addict, they are often so shocked and in disbelief that making healthy and even simple decisions can be a daunting endeavor. This disorientation, forgetfulness, intense range of emotions and or even numb emptiness are all trauma symptoms related to the betrayal they have experienced. As part of this assessment, the therapist might assign the client online screenings and questionnaires. The results of these screening are interpreted and discussed with the partner in a subsequent appointment. At the conclusion of the assessment, the partner of the sex addict and the therapist will discuss a treatment plan and make clinical recommendations. Many of our clients find that participating in one of the partners’ support groups is an essential element of their healing journey. Partners of sex addicts may also elect to participate in biofeedback and neurofeedback therapy to reduce trauma symptoms.
Call us now to schedule an appointment if you are the partner, spouse or family member of a sex addicted and experience any of the following:
• Numbness or lack of emotion
• Periods of disbelief
• Periods of forgetfulness that did not occur previously
• Periods of disorientation
• Intrusive thoughts associated with the sex addict’s behavior
• Visualization of information you’ve learn about the sex addict’s behavior
• A sense of insecurity around the sex addict
• Beginning to question who you can really trust