When is affair counselling right? And does it work?
Updated: Jun 8
There is a time and a place for counselling and no matter what, if the time is not right then counselling will just be a hindrance to those in an affair.
So what was my take on counselling.
For months I avoided conversations and advice.
I don't need advice was my thought. I know what I am doing and I know my destination! How wrong I was!
But what changed my position and what made me change my mind and seek counselling?
Well, as the affair deepened and became more (shall we say messy) counselling was suggested again. Now I was still not keen but as an act of 'let's keep the peace' I decided to go.
To be honest conversations with Mitchel were going nowhere and just turned into arguments which helped no one.
We booked the counselling as a couple and went along. This was 4-5 months into the affair approx.
The counselling organisation we used at first was Relate. A well know organisation. Now I am sure that Relate carry out some great work, but in our experience not so great.
We were given a counsellor that had only just qualified. and from my point of view was not ready to deal with such a complex marital event.
The sessions were not helpful and provided no direction for me at all. In fact the sessions where pretty forgetful and meaningless. However, at that time I was not quiet ready enough for counselling.
After a few sessions we decided it was not helping and that actually some confidence was broken during the counselling as opinions were shared rather that advice. Which made me angry!
This is why counselling and the right counsellor is so important in these situations. The right counsellor can make or break the situation. So you need to be reassured on who you choose.
A few more months passed and the situation was becoming exhausting for us all. I was very confused and at a point where mentally I was struggling to cope.
This made me decide (and advice from Mitchel as well) to seek out another counsellor. I looked through the options and decided to contact a local counsellor with some good reviews. This was a private counselling & psychotherapy practice. I emailed and booked an appointment, for just me.
The day approached and arrived at the destination. Julia greeted me and we went inside and the session started.
Now I won't go into detail but the environment was nice and I felt safe, which is really important because when you are in a emotional psychological state you are very guarded and have a tendency to run. Run away to go and hide.
Julia was calm, caring and provided reassurance. Because I felt safe, I decided to open up to Julia's questions.
It was actually a relief to be able to talk to an independent person, to listen to questions and think about those questions and provide a truthful and reasonable answer.
The quality of no judgment and no advice, other than try this exercise to help provide you with a logical understanding was nice and reassuring.
The questions made me think long and hard and actually helped me piece together the beginning of a future picture.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, (CBT) changed the way I though and opened up the challenges I needed to see, so that I could progress. Julia was really good at this.
CBT is definitely needed in these situations rather than counselling which is less directive. CBT helps provide a better understand of you and helps you find your own solution to your problems.
So I actually came out of the first session with some clarity. Now lets be clear this is not a magic cure. This was merely the beginning, but when I came out of that first session my thoughts and the processing had already changed. I was very emotional but my emotion was directed in a different way. Instead of being emotional in my mental state and not coping about the holistic event (selfish) I was now more emotional about what I had built over the last 20 years or so with Mitchel and what the prospect of life would maybe look like without that. There was more to it than that, but in one hour my thinking had altered.
I continued to see Julia over the next few weeks and as circumstances developed within the affair, Julia helped me understand and unravel these with clarity. Never telling me, but helping to guide me into a rational way of thinking that helped me make key decisions based on the actions, activities and events and what was behind them.
This was like finding gold and I can actually say that I felt so much better after each session and to actually find clarity was so fundamental to me at that time.
So what is the point here?
The point is that counselling does work, but it has to be the right person and at the right time.
Counselling (CBT) made a huge impact on my life and changed my thought process.
Let us be clear though that emotions still run high and the affair or the feelings for the person do not disappear. that is not the goal. The goal is to understand what is happening and to road map a path that is going to provide the right destination through good processing and decision making.
That sounds strange, but there are many complexities to this. What complexities I hear you cry? Well when you throw in:
- And so much more, there is bound to be a path that has so many obstacles blocking the destination that a planned detour has to be made to get to the destination. One of the detours is CBT.
My advice is this:
If you are having the affair pursue Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, (CBT)
If you are being betrayed pursue Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, (CBT)
If you are being betrayed express that you would like them to go to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, (CBT)
I was actually sad when I stopped attending CBT and in my opinion it is really useful just as a life check in itself. It is a useful tool to help us understand so much that has happened or is happening to us.
Mitchel and I attended together at a later date, which also helped.
I also asked Julia for post affair help to help me manage my emotions around bereavement which was also a life saver.