​Phone: 631.332.2213
Email: Suezola@me.com

Sex Addiction Counseling for Partners or Spouses

As a betrayed partner or spouse of a sex addict, you may be suffering from trauma, grief, and intense pain for which therapy is advised so that you may begin your own healing process. 

The discovery of a partners betrayal is often devastating. You feel like you have been sucker punched in the gut and you can't catch your breath. Whether you have been married one month, one year, 10 years, or 40 years, it is devastating, because the illusion of what you had... has changed forever. You must be asking yourself, what can I believe, and more importantly what can I do to regain a feeling of safety and stability.

Maybe you saw his phone come up with some texts that were totally inappropriate. Maybe you had something come up on your computer that absolutely floored you. Maybe somebody called you and told you that your partner was acting out. You are likely going through a lot of emotional reactions as a result of finding out that your partner has betrayed you. You may be experiencing panic attacks, generalized anxiety, or intense anger. Your heart may be racing, you may be trembling, you may not be able to sleep. When this kind of information is discovered, your central nervous system goes into overload, which then sends all sorts of chemicals to the brain. Then you go into self-protection. Am I going to fight, am I going to flee, not fight, or am I going to freeze and not do anything, because I don't know what to do?

You want to tell the world, you want to tell his family, you want to let everybody know how he has betrayed you, yet there is a part of you that doesn't want to talk about it to others, because you don't want them to hate him or judge you. So, you're protecting him, and you're wanting to expose him at the same time. It is normal to feel this way. This is the dilemma of discovery. You experience so many paradoxes of what to do. 

Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS) trained clinicians have worked with thousands of partners of sex addicts and know it is a priority to take good care of yourself and to find a therapist and a support group who can help you through this difficult time, to insure your safety and your sanity.

There is much you can do to navigate through this ordeal. There are great resources. There are plenty of books.  There are many programs out there to help you with the discovery of your partners betrayal. I know that you did not contribute to your partners addiction...your feelings are the byproduct of his sexual addiction.  This shouldn't be happening to you, you didn't ask for it, you didn't cause it, you can't cure it, and you certainly can't control it, but you feel as if it is controlling you.

You are likely asking yourself, "What do I need to feel safe and comfortable again and who can I talk to that won't judge me or my partner, and will stay neutral and just hold my feelings for me."

As an experienced therapist with specific training in partner betrayal, I will help you sort though your feelings, find your voice, develop good boundaries, keep yourself safe, and work with you to know how and when you are ready to create changes. Maybe that will mean asking for a therapeutic separation, maybe you will ask your partner to work on his recovery from his sex addiction with a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), then you may both decide to go to couples therapy, maybe you will go to your trusted religious or spiritual leaders and talk with him or her...I can help you make that next move based on who you are, how you feel, and when you are ready to voice what you need.

What I know is that nobody should be telling you what to do. That needs to come from you, yet right now you may be so flooded with feelings and emotions that you are on overload. You may feel "shell shocked" and in need an expert to help you unravel your feelings. I can help you to acknowledge and process your feelings and to grieve your losses.

I am here to help.

What are the Effects of Betrayal on Sexuality? 
Choosing Change_ Understanding and Empathizing with Survivors of Betrayal Trauma.pdf

Through sex addiction counseling specifically designed to help you as the betrayed partner of a sex addict, I can help you:

• Perform an honest assessment of the issues in your relationship in order to obtain health and wellness in your relationship and life once again
• Develop skills to help you recognize triggers that your partner may be engaging in addictive behavior so that you may help prevent a relapse from occurring
• Identify maladaptive behaviors and to explore healthier coping strategies
• Restore your feelings of trust in your own abilities
• Explore and prepare for the next steps in your own recovery

This is the time to be gentle and patient with yourself and to be in a supportive environment in which you feel safe and comfortable expressing even the most difficult of emotions. Partners intense feelings of terror, anxiety, helplessness and hopelessness in coping with their painful situations mirror those of people who have survived violent assaults and other kinds of psychological traumas. Through education, exploration and self-examination recovery is possible. 

Co-Addiction vs Trauma
It was the 12 step model that birthed the widely held view that partners of sex addicts suffer from their own disease, the disease of co-addiction. Many partners do not find the help they need within the 12 step process alone to move beyond their raw traumatic pain.

When the attachment bond has been violated and broken you have a relational trauma wound. When that happens all the warmth, safety, joy and comfort that the relationship formally held can no longer be counted on. The relationship now becomes a source of danger because you have discovered that much of what you believed about the one you love was a lie.

We now know that the body's response to stress and trauma involves hormones and inflammatory chemicals which can foster everything from headaches to heart attacks particularly in chronically traumatic lives. When you suffer from trauma symptoms you will likely find it impossible to control thoughts, feelings and relational interactions as prescribed in codependency and 12 step literature unless you receive help to heal from the trauma.

As an experienced therapist trained in partner betrayal I can help you heal.

Adapted from APSATS Board Member Carol Juergensen Sheets LCSW, PCC, CSAT, CPPS A Partners Dilemma- Carol The Coach

Dependency Continuum - Dependency-Continuum.pdf

Implementing Prodependence
Family members often struggle to deal with the fact that a loved one is addicted. They also struggle with statements from therapists, friends, and family members telling them their efforts to care for the addict—perhaps taking on extra responsibilities and forgoing personal pleasures and development—indicate they are:
  • Obsessed with the addict and his or her behavior
  • Enmeshed with the addict
  • Enabling the addiction
  • Trying to control the addict’s thinking and behavior
  • Making the problem worse
Basically, loved ones of addicts are told that they are “codependent” and their efforts to help are counterproductive and facilitating (maybe even escalating) the problem. And that might in fact be the case. But even when it is, the general codependency belief that caregiving loved ones must “stop rescuing” and “detach with love” does not account for or even recognize the fact that they can’t stop caring for the addict any more than they can stop breathing. What they can do is learn to caretake prodependently—in ways that are more helpful to the addict, and by extension to themselves.

Interestingly, prodependence recommends and implements the same basic therapeutic actions as codependence—a fresh or renewed focus on self-care coupled with implementation of healthier boundaries. However, the models approach this work from vastly different perspectives. Codependence, as a deficit-based trauma model, views loved ones of addicts as traumatized, damaged, and needing help. Prodependence, as a strength-based attachment-driven model, views loved ones of addicts as heroes for continuing to love and continuing to remain attached despite the debilitating presence of addiction.

Consider the following graph delineating traits that are often seen in loved ones of addicts. In the left-hand column are the negative-sounding words associated with codependence. In the right-hand column, these traits are reframed as prodependent positives.

Codependent Versus Prodependent Traits

Deeply involved
Externally focused
Concerned about the welfare of others
Lacking healthy boundaries
Eager to care for a loved one
Can’t say no
Chooses to say yes
Obsessed with the addiction
Determined to protect the addict and family
Living in denial
Unwilling to give up on a loved one
Fearful of further loss with no control
Trying to be heard
Anticipating problems
As stated above, the primary difference between prodependence and codependence lies in how we frame and think about “the problem.” Prodependence recognizes that loved ones of active addicts are perpetually in crisis mode. Naturally, they try to control the crisis. In the process, they sometimes panic and make bad decisions. They may overdo. They may help too much. They may help ineffectively. They may enable and appear to be pathologically enmeshed. But that does not mean they are psychologically disordered. What it does mean is they are people in crisis, behaving in the ways that people in crisis tend to behave. Rather than blaming and shaming these loving people, prodependence meets them where they are, which is coming from a place of love and a desire for attachment. - Adapted from Prodependence.com, Seeking Integrity LLC website.

Codependence is a model of human behavior based in trauma theory. To “be codependent” implies that one tends to bond deeply with those with whom interactions often mirror early traumatic deficits. Failure on the part of the active addict then serves as a trigger for the non-addicted partner to act out his or her unmet needs or abuse from childhood within this troubled adult relationship. Codependence implies that the loved ones of addicts, due to their underlying, often unconscious “childhood issues” tend to, as adults, give too much and love too much. Thus, they attract, enable, and enmesh with addicted partners. The goals of codependency treatment revolve around themes of detachment, self-actualization, becoming less needy, and working through past trauma to become more aware, less enabling, and less accepting of troubled, emotionally unavailable people. Prodependence is a model of human behavior based in attachment theory. To “be prodependent” implies that one is able to create deep, bonded adult attachments that mirror our very human, normative longings for healthy dependence and intimacy. Prodependence assumes that, when one loves and bonds deeply, it is natural and therefore non-pathological to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety and stability of those with whom one is attached. Prodependence implies that loved ones of addicts, regardless of prior history, will take extraordinary measures to keep those they love stable and to ensure the safety of their families. There is no pathology assigned to loving in prodependence. Rather, prodependence asserts that loving addicts or other chronically troubled people healthfully requires a different form of love than that with healthy adults. Loving prodependently requires support, guidance, and informed help.Many signs of codependency seem like normal behaviour. Caring for a needy person does not make you a codependent. However, when the act of caring is excessive, unnecessary and actively hidden behind a facade of normality, it becomes codependency. Compassion is normal, but not when it is so overwhelming that it causes you to pursue needless suffering without seeking a proper solution.

Codependents create an illusion of normality to preserve the status quo while they, and others, suffer ongoing hardship. They are caught in a kind of love-hate relationship. They do not enjoy it, yet they maintain it. This is usually due to deeply embedded emotions or learned behaviours that compel them to preserve, rather than heal the problem.

Codependents tend to:
  1. Want to care for others
  2. Have a need to feel needed
  3. Confuse caring with enabling
  4. Feel responsible for the suffering of others
  5. Feel guilty if they do not help others
  6. Feel attracted to someone in need of help
  7. Rescue the helpless, back the underdog
  8. Be enraged by uncaring attitudes of others
  9. Believe others cannot care for themselves
  10. Do more than their fair share of work
  11. Do favours they dislike doing
  12. Control others to maintain secrecy
  13. Have a need to please other people
  14. Maintain own self-esteem with good deeds
  15. Value other peoples’ good opinions of them
  16. Suppress, avoid talk about their own feelings
  17. Avoid showing their own true emotions
  18. Deny, cover up, downplay their problems
  19. Tell lies to protect an erring person
  20. Avoid attention and help from others
  21. Advise others and focus on their problems
  22. Appear to be competent and self-reliant
  23. Do things perfectly to earn approval
  24. Project a successful, happy image
  25. Isolate themselves and feel lonely
  26. Communicate indirectly, through others
  27. Do not know how to set boundaries
  28. Become the family guardian
  29. Vigilant, careful not to expose evidence
  30. Take over the abuser’s obligations
  31. Neglect their own personal needs
  32. Fear failure and resist change
  33. Fear being alone, losing intimate partner
  34. Fear damaging a loving bond, relationship
  35. Avoid criticising, distancing their partner
  36. Depend on a partner for financial survival
  37. Fear punishment by an angry partner
  38. Feel negative and positive about the abuser
  39. Need constant reassurance, fear criticism
  40. Blame themselves for others’ problems
  41. Have low self-esteem, feel undeserving
  42. Experience shame, distrust, insecurity
  43. Feel angry, victimized, unappreciated, used
  44. Feel helpless, unhappy, depressed, anxious
  45. Get emotionally, mentally, physically ill
  46. Transfer codependency to their children


Betrayed Partners Intensive Treatment Centers List.pdf

What is the Structure of an Emotional Impact Letter?.pdf

What is Betrayal Trauma and How to Write an Impact Statement_.pdf


Helping Couples Heal Podcast Episode 27 - PACT Therapy, Attachment and Betrayal Trauma with Stan Tatkin - In this episode of the Helping Couples Heal podcast, Marnie and Duane talk with Stan Tatkin - clinician, researcher, teacher, and developer of the psychobiological approach to couple therapy (PACT) neuroscience and the role of attachment theory in healing betrayal and relational trauma. Please listen carefully to every word of this interview if you are someone who has betrayed your partner and can't understand why she is as traumatized as she is by your betrayal. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST EPISODE


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Susan Zola, LCSW, CCPS, CSAT

T: 631-332-2213
E: suezola@me.com
Licensed In: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, South Carolina Out-of-State Independent Social Worker Telehealth Provider, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Virginia


Bachelor of Arts, Psychology – SUNY Binghamton, 1980
Master of Social Work – Adelphi University School of Social Work, 1982.
Private Practice – "Mind Over Matters," 2006.
LCSW License #078530-1
APSATS The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists
Certified Sex Addiction Therapist
The International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals
Certified Clinical Partner Specialist

Betrayed Partners

Susan Zola, LCSW, CCPS, CSAT
Licensed In: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, South Carolina Out-of-State Independent Social Worker Telehealth Provider, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Virginia

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