By Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT candidate
The process for recovery of sexual addiction takes time and persistent effort. If you are married it may feel like a nuclear explosion has hit your relationship. Counseling services for sexual addiction should ideally be composed of a mixture of individual therapy for both husband and wife, group counseling for both husband and wife, and couples-counseling to mend the relationship.
In our sexual addiction program in Mesa Arizona we believe that a “Full Disclosure” process is necessary for healing. It provides complete transparency for the husband, and complete data for the spouse. The data she receives is sometimes painful but essential for her to pick back up emotionally.
Many addicts will attempt to slowly feed information to their spouse hoping that it will be less traumatic. In actuality this creates more intensity and relational trauma. Don’t fool yourself – if you’re an addict a complete full disclosure is critical. Get it all out at once so everyone can move on… including yourself.
Entering the process of full disclosure should be done with careful planning. It is not clinically appropriate to blurt out the information at some random moment. You will cause more damage to the relationship by doing it this way. I suggest several key elements to a healthy full disclosure process that will ensure a healing direction.
1. SET APPOINTMENT: Set up a specific time with a trained “couples” therapist to do the disclosure. If you’re the wife it’s important to wait for this set time. Don’t push your partner for disclosure before he’s prepared. It feels worse to get trickled out information over time. Make sure to plan for approximately one and a half hours. It may not go quickly. You need to ensure extra time.
2. WRITTEN PREPATION: The Addict should prepare a written full disclosure using an outline prescribed by his individual therapist. This written disclosure should be prepared and reviewed with his therapist before the full disclosure ever occurs. This primary therapist may need to examine items that are unclear, or challenge him to rewrite items to accurately reflect his need for transparency or to help him with any denial. Also, the primary therapist can help assess details that are unhelpful while identifying others that need to be included.
3. SELF CARE PLAN: The Spouse’s therapist should help her prepare a written plan that involves self-care. Sometimes there is emotional fallout (trauma) that may occur. The full disclosure session is often painful, and we want to make sure she has a plan for her own self-care. The plan should include grounding activities and self care for up to seven days following the full disclosure session.
4. ALLOW QUESTIONS: During the session is the appropriate time to ask questions for clarification. It is NOT a time to throw judgments in your partners face or start emotionally attacking him. Remember you are simply collecting data for your healing and future decision-making. I typically encourage the questions as they arise. If the session becomes highly emotional and difficult to continue then it’s very common to take a break. Partners should have the freedom to ask for a break – go on a 2 minute walk, use the restroom, sit in the lobby and meditate, etc. If it’s still too much then reschedule the session after increased grounding activities and self-care.
A full disclosure process in counseling for sexual addiction will be essential during the course of recovery. Remember to plan things out. Don’t jump into the process. If you or a loved one needs help with full disclosure in the counseling process then please call us. We have a specialty program for couples dealing with sexual addiction in Mesa Arizona. (480) 668-8301.