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TREATING COUPLES CONFERENCE 2012

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Rethinking our Clinical Attitudes Toward Infidelity
Friday, November 2, 2012

Couples and Infidelity

Sexual infidelity is generally regarded as a grave symptom of a troubled relationship, and the revelation of an affair often triggers a crisis that threatens the entire foundation of trust and connection in a couple. In this workshop, we’ll discuss the complexities of marriage, sex, intimacy, and monogamy in couples from a multicultural, nonjudgmental perspective. We’ll explore the motivations behind affairs and their possible meanings in different relationships, both> heterosexual and gay. We’ll examine the benefits and costs of truth-telling and transparency, how couples can rebuild trust and intimacy, and why affairs can actually stabilize a marriage.

With an eye on the existential, clinical and ethical aspects involved, we will focus on how our own assumptions, values, and personal experiences can influence our therapeutic work and elude the needs of the couple. Combining didactic material, case studies, and video vignettes, we will lay out anuanced therapeutic approach for working with extramarital relations, past and present, fantasized or real, disclosed or shrouded in secrecy.

Program Description

Couples therapy has traditionally focused on two partners occupying a shared space with a neutral third party, striving toward greater honesty and transparency. Couples are engaged as a unit, and therapists are discouraged from seeing partners separately lest power balances or allegiances be disturbed. What’s lost in this approach to couples therapy? To effectively engage such issues as intimacy, sexuality and infidelity, therapists must create separate spaces where each partner can explore his/her feelings and experiences along with larger relationship dynamics. Couples therapy can best succeed in combinations of one and two.

In this one-day conference, we will explore how to navigate secrets in couples work; clinical dilemmas and interventions around sex, love and power; infidelity and how to move forward; and balancing the hidden dimension of sexual desire with the need for transparency and security. Combining formal teaching, clinical case examples and video vignettes, Esther Perel will probe the bonds and conflicts between love and desire through a multi-cultural lens. With an eye on the existential, clinical and ethical aspects involved, we will focus on how our own assumptions, values, and personal experiences can influence our therapeutic work and elude the needs of the couple.

The workshop draws on attachment and psychoanalytic theory, family systems and body-oriented approaches. You will learn:

  • How to create a safe, flexible and non-judgmental therapeutic environment to work with secrets, privacy, transparency and truth-telling
  • A more nuanced therapeutic approach for working with extra-marital relations -- past and present, fantasized or real, disclosed or withheld.
  • Strategies to help couples unlock sexual blocks and take emotional risks
  • Ways for couples to rebuild trust and intimacy and to promote erotic recovery following an affair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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