Healing Complex Betrayal Trauma

As can be seen by looking over some of my articles, one of the focus areas of my Atlanta psychotherapy and counseling practice is helping people get through the challenges of healing from multiple instances of broken trust. Of course, the most heart-breaking of these violations is the revelation of a pattern of sexual infidelities.

There are wide-ranging issues to consider when figuring out how to heal from the destruction caused by such deceptive abuses of power and trust. Not many therapists are both knowledgeable and experienced in all of the nuances of healing from this rupture of reality.  Until recently there has not been much formalized training for mental health professionals that focuses on helping people through such a difficult situation.  There are basically two training models that share many core features.  One is the training received by people studying to become a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), focusing on the methods that have been developed or approved by Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., the person who has been most instrumental in developing theories about sex addiction.  The other is the Certified Clinical Partner Specialist (CCPS) training developed by the Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS).

To my knowledge I'm the only Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) in Atlanta who is also a Certified Clinical Partner Specialist (CCPS). These certifications give me a strong understanding and set of skills to deal with all of the challenges that occur when sexual betrayal is long-term, repeated or in some other way complex.  It has only been in the last few years that betrayal trauma has been recognized as potentially contributing to a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Before this understanding, partners of chronic sexual betrayers were often viewed by therapists as "codependent" or in some other way as "sick" as the person who committed the betrayals. This confuses the cause from the effect: a person who consults with a therapist after discovering that their relationship history is packed with lies can look pretty messed up.  Anybody would in a similar situation, including a therapist!

So when seeking professional counseling assistance to deal with the effects of chronic betrayal trauma, it is important to ask a prospective therapist about their experience, training and philosophy of care.  Look for someone with hundreds of cases under their belt, not just a couple.  Seek people with extensive training and certification, not a weekend course.  Take the time to insure that your helping professional not only has your well-being at heart but possesses the training and experience to effectively guide you through a difficult process that often has a lot of moving parts.  


Bill Herring is a counselor and psychotherapist in Atlanta.  In addition to decades of general clinical experience he has a specialization in helping people heal from the negative effects of problematic sexual behavior.  He is the only therapist in Atlanta who is both a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) in Atlanta and a Certified Clinical Partner Specialist (CCPS).