NP0011 Who's Afraid of Couples Therapy?

This blog focuses on discussion regarding the course NP0011 Who's Afraid of Couples Therapy?

NP0011, Couples, Session 4, Esther Perel

An extramarital affair can be a traumatic experience for couples, causing feelings of anger, rejection, fear, loss of trust, grief, and can ultimately destroy the relationship. But does it always have to be framed in this experience of trauma and eventual breakdown of the relationship? Is it possible to rebuild trust and intimacy after an affair? Learn with Esther Perel how, contrary to conventional wisdom, some affairs can actually transform a relationship. Discover techniques to help couples rebuild trust after an infidelity and hear about different cultural perspectives on affairs.

After this session, please let us know what you think. What's your experience with couples trying to heal after affairs? What cultural setting do you practice in and how do you think that affects the way in which you work with couples or clients in general?

As always, if you ever have any technical questions or issues, please feel free to email support@psychotherapynetworker.org.
12.23.2011   Posted In: NP0011 Who's Afraid of Couples Therapy?   By Psychotherapy Networker
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  • 0 avatar Linda Bilunka 12.28.2011 13:17
    How you deal with STD's and secret affairs?
  • Not available avatar Lenore Bayuk 12.28.2011 14:39
    Very stimulating presentation! Do you have thoughts on how to deal w/ the affair being cybersex and pornography? This seems to be presenting more and more. And seems to be more in the arena of addiction.
    And, I really like the focus on what does this mean for me? for you? Which, I'm sure fits w/ how to deal w/ my question about pornography.
    I appreciate any thoughts on this.
    • Not available avatar Joseph Tenney 03.06.2012 17:21
      For insight into treating couples with cybersex and pornography, try the book:
      Mending a Shattered Heart by Stefanie Carnes

      and iitap.com
  • Not available avatar David Riley 12.28.2011 15:04
    Esther, your presentation that reframed the whole notion of affairs was so enlightening. For me it raises a larger question that is part of every relationship and that is: What is an affair? Aside from the obvious sexual infidelity, could it also be work or sports, or cars, or anything that helps me escape the pain of my life with my partner? If the issue is really about meaning, and about longing or a feeling of being alive, then the external behavior, while important, does not tell the whole story. Could you comment on this?
  • Not available avatar Caroline 12.28.2011 15:06
    Amazing webinar! Thank you for your insights, especially the distinction between detective and investigative work. Also, the differences among various cultures regarding infidelity was very interesting.
  • 0 avatar Stephanie Kitchen 12.29.2011 01:12
    Wow! Very enlightening. I practice in the far North West in a small U.S. town. I see lots of couples presenting with affairs lately. Thank you Esther, for distinguishing detective work and investigating meaning for both partners. That helps a lot. I also appreciated the discussion of looking at an affair through what it awakens or ignites in oneself, rather than it being about the other (lover). Can you tell us how you handle the situation when the injured partner wants the affair to end while the one having the affair remains in decision mode? I also look forward to hearing your thoughts on Linda's question regarding STD's and secret affairs.
    Thank you,
  • Not available avatar Lisa Schapiro 12.30.2011 13:23
    Esther, I had the pleasure of seeing you at the Couples Conference this year and continue to be intrigued and enlightened by your work in treating infidelity. I can see how this frame allows for so much more movement and ability to repair a relationship post an affair. Thank you.
  • Not available avatar Joanna 01.01.2012 11:33
    Thank you so much for sharing your work with us. Your non-judgemental, curious attitude with couples...yet your directness was very inspirational to me.
  • Not available avatar Sneha Nikam 01.01.2012 14:28
    Hello Esther Ma'am, it was so great to hear your conversation with Rich Sir. Particularly your passion, experience which comes evidently when you talk. Thank you for sharing those examples, listening to the entire session was truly an interesting learning treat. All the Best, take care. Thank you Rich Sir.

    Mumbai, INDIA.
  • Not available avatar Jamie 01.01.2012 18:49
    Deep appreciation for helping us dispense with dogma that increases pain and loss, in favor of realism, meaning-searching and true empathy for both partners. Q--What do you say to couples if one or both don't like your announcement that you will be keeping all individual sessions confidential, making it clear you will keep secrets? Thanks Esther and Rich, Jamie
  • Not available avatar Martha Smith 01.01.2012 21:03
    What a refreshing new perspective to help couples heal after this trauma. Esther is like salve to the soul with her unique, non-judgemental, caring approach.
  • 0 avatar Sarah Chana Radcliffe 01.02.2012 00:44
    Very thought provoking. I was a little confused at parts - like why the issue of the children is not part of the discussion. Children are impacted in such a major way when it comes to affairs - whether it is because of marital breakdown that they then have to live through or loss of respect for a parent which inevitably damages them or through the loss of trust of human bonds which affects them for the rest of their lives. Where does this all fit in to the serial marriage/loves that is spoken about here?
  • Not available avatar Irina Diyankova 01.02.2012 20:33
    Very thought provoking presentation. I really appreciated the underlying non-judgmental philosophy and the ideas that marriage is not a perfect arrangement and that love and desire are very complex matters. I really-really like stepping away from the black-and-white perspective of an affair and a person engaged in an affair being bad things.
    Also, being culturally different, originally from Russia, and having practiced therapy in both cultures, I appreciated cultural comparisons and comments. I feel that having knowledge and experience of different cultural experiences on the same issue, enriches my work with any client and creates more contexts and possibilities to choose from.
    The part that I have real difficulty with and that goes against the way I am practicing is the notion that a therapist may be a secret keeper within a couple. When I work with a couple, I feel that their relationship is my client first and foremost. I do not want to find myself triangulated and/or manipulated by the secrecy. And, I am definitely guilty when it comes to the bias of truth and openness being good things and secrecy being a bad thing in an intimate relationship. So, I tell my couples that I am Not going to be a keeper of any partner's secrets and if there is something they don't want their partner to know, they should not be telling me about it. I certainly see the value of Esther's approach and benefits of knowledge that come with it though. A lot to think about.
    Also, when I think about the possibility of keeping things one partner is sharing with me confidential, I do not trust myself to be able to do that, as it is a lot to keep a track of, when you work with two people both individually and as a couple. I wonder, Esther, how do you manage to keep track of all that complexity? I would appreciate a response. Thank you very much for the seminar
  • 0 avatar joy clarke 01.03.2012 13:45
    So much food for thought, thank you Esther, and Rich! I enjoyed the global views - great to broaden my thinking and approach. The space for difference feels respectful and the need for meaning makes so much sense! And just listening and watching was life-affirming for me! You also give me a sense of competence, with the caring curiosity, in this tricky arena. I'm thinking about how to apply this in a time of deep, sometimes frightening, transition. This week the ANC celebrate, here in Bloemfontein, the capital of S.A. conservatism, 100 years since the signing of the Freedom Charter, and my Afrikaaner neighbours are still traumatised by their loss of power, and all of us facing our mortality daily. Your approach(es)put me in a place of interest and curiosity, thank you.
  • Not available avatar Anne 01.03.2012 16:18
    I'm an Episcopal priest, taking a course in couples counseling. This is, I think, the fourth I've listened to in the series, and by far the most fascinating to me. Esther raises so many philosophical and spiritual questions, and shows such deep wisdom about intimacy and healing. Thank you very much for this session, and these offerings.
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