“But the website SAID they used the trauma model for partners!”

If I had a nickel for every partner who washed up at my door with that complaint—and some of them were therapists certified in the prevailing addict-centered model themselves! So, if the sex addiction professionals can’t find good trauma care, how will you fare any better?

You need to know that many treatment centers and counsellors use the word “trauma” as a marketing hook for wives and partners. That means you can’t assume their model is no longer addict-centered, or that they have abandoned a core belief that wives and partners are codependent, co-addict, or co-sex-addict. Here’s a “heritage minute” in the history of partner care to understand the road we’ve been on:

 In 2014, Dr. Linda Hatch invited Dr. Omar Minwalla to “guest blog” his take on Sex Addiction Induced Trauma (SAIT) that partners endured. One of my posts to that thread on August 20, 2014 (https://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/discuss/2564/) ended with the prediction that soon those still denying partner trauma in their practices wouldn’t have time to call us hysterical anymore because “They will be so busy rewriting all their websites” to include that word for SEO (search engine optimization). Within a few weeks of my post all the main treatment centers were redoing their homepages, slapping on “trauma” buttons, softening the language of codependence and co-addict, deleting partner-insulting promo videos, and inserting a reference to partners “feeling” traumatized. But when you scratched the surface of the marketing, what you found were the SAME OLD STAFF and the SAME OLD PROGRAMS being offered.  

 Wives and partners further traumatized by these deceptive tactics have spent thousands of dollars for nothing of value to their healing, recovery, or ongoing safety. So, what do you need to know about a real trauma approach?

Trauma care is not a one hour slot in a weekend intensive, or the first three sessions with a therapist. Trauma care is the main thing you do until the client begins to find relief from her symptoms, manage triggers, and trusts herself again. Her safety is the top priority in every decision considered. Then, and only then, do you engage the bigger story she is in, working with the primary narrative driving and interpreting her life, and examining where this relationship with a man called a sex addict belongs. Her recovery is the priority in her therapy—not his. Saving the marriage is also not the priority. What happens to him and the relationship after a wife or partner heals and recovers are other questions entirely.

If your treatment center or therapist doesn’t have the skill or commitment to your life that this requires, you are with the wrong therapist. You are NOT responsible for him or the relationship. You are responsible for recognizing what you need and giving it to yourself. You are NOT a prop to be managed within an addict-centered treatment model. You are an actual person. And something happened to you.

Dr. Barbara Steffens published academic research showing nearly 70% of wives and partners can be diagnosed as having PTSD. If your therapist isn’t making trauma care a priority for you, maybe it’s time to move on.

With you,

Diane Strickland.


Diane Strickland