Joanna Benfield Sex Addiction Therapist Harley Street, Central London, and Online

Therapy for Partners

If you have recently discovered that your partner is a sex addict, it is likely that you will be suffering from trauma, shock and an enormous sense of betrayal. This trauma cannot be underestimated; it is quite different to discovering another type of addiction, such as alcohol or drug addiction, as it occurs in such an intimate arena of the relationship. Sexual betrayal may leave you feeling angry, frightened, vulnerable and desperately unsafe. You may feel that you can no longer trust in everything you thought to be true about your relationship.

You may be asking yourself who your partner really is and questioning their love for you. I imagine that there are many other questions that you are trying to answer. These may include:

  • should I stay or should I leave?
  • do I know the full extent of his behaviours?
  • can he really stop his behaviours?
  • how can I ever trust him again?

It may be difficult to talk to anyone else about your discovery, as there is often an enormous sense of misplaced shame about having been deceived and not seeing what was happening. You may also feel a need to protect your partner from the judgement of your family and friends. However, it is vital that you have someone to talk to about your experiences and feelings.


Why Should I Have Therapy?

Sometimes partners can be reticent about going to therapy, as they may think, ‘I’m not the one with the problem, why do I need to talk to someone?’ The reality is, you don’t need therapy because you have done something to create the problem, but you may benefit from it because of the traumatic impact of your partners behaviour. Therapy can help you to work through this trauma, and also to understand the nature of sex addiction and its impact on relationships.


The Focus of Therapy

As a professional, I can help you to work through your discovery and find a way forward. Our sessions together may focus on areas such as:

  • trauma recovery
  • rebuilding trust
  • planning to leave, if appropriate
  • rediscovering self-esteem
  • rebuilding an intimate relationship
  • understanding why your partner may have behaved in such hurtful and deceitful ways

Some partners choose to leave the relationship immediately, while others may stay – perhaps because there are children, joint financial commitments and other reasons why the relationship cannot be immediately unwound. Some may stay because they still love their partners, despite the discoveries about their behaviours, and want to see if they can salvage the relationship. If you have chosen to stay with your partner, at least for the time being, our work together can help you to explore how you can begin to repair the damage that has been done to the relationship and rebuild. This process can be easier if both individuals are already receiving tailor-made support. This will bring a shared understanding of the problem and give both of you new tools for overcoming the relationship rupture.

If you have decided to leave the relationship, therapy can help you through the grieving process and to prepare for the new life ahead of you, as well as helping you to seek out future healthy relationships.

If you feel that you would benefit from working through the betrayal you have experienced, please do contact me to arrange an initial consultation. 


Should We Have Couples’ Therapy?

Many people wonder whether they should seek out couples’ therapy as soon as the sex addiction has come to light. I generally find that it is important for both people to do their individual work first, before trying to work on the couple. The two individuals must recover before the relationship can be repaired. There is no point trying to build something out of damaged materials – it will not be strong or fit for purpose. First the materials themselves need to be treated and repaired, then they can build a solid structure. Once both partners have been in their individual therapy for a few months and have really understood the nature of the addiction and its impact on them individually, couples therapy can be an extremely useful next step.


"Trust is not a gasoline-soaked blanket that succumbs to the matches of betrayal, never able to be used for its warmth again; it’s a tapestry that wears thin in places, but can be patched over if you have the right materials, circumstances, and patience to repair it.” AJ Darkholme

Joanna Benfield - Sex Addiction and Porn Addiction Therapist
Treating Sexual Compulsivity
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