Have you or your partner had an affair? Has your life turned upside-down? I can help.

Few events have as devastating an impact on a relationship as finding out your partner has been unfaithful. The relationship is immediately thrown into a crisis, with both partners not knowing if it will survive.  Emotions are at an extreme, going from anger, sadness, guilt, and bouncing back and forth from moment to moment. This is an extremely chaotic, confusing time.

I have helped 100’s and 100’s of couples survive and heal from affairs.

Although you may feel like this will be impossible to resolve, I’ve walked this path with countless couples. I know what helps and what makes it worse. I can give you support and guidance and help calm things down.  You need some direction, someone who’s been there before and can help you know what to do and where to start.

Assuming you want to see if your relationship can be not only healed but made stronger than ever, you need an experienced guide who can show you the way and be a steady resource to you both during this difficult time.  Here’s how I can help:

Phase One: Crisis and Stabilization – During this early phase we will meet more frequently to provide additional support and guidance and restore some stability as quickly as possible. We will establish some ground rules, discuss commitments, make a preliminary plan for the relationship, deal with disclosures and manage heated discussions and conflicts.

Phase Two: Understanding and Solving the Problem. After establishing some stability in the relationship, we will explore the reasons why the affair happened. This is essential so that further acts of infidelity will not happen in the future. This may include both couple and individual sessions as often individual issues are involved that need some individual work to resolve.  For the betrayed partner, the experience of an affair, is a serious trauma and takes a considerable amount of time to heal from. There is no way to speed up this process other than for their partner to take full responsibility for the betrayal and do whatever it takes to repair the trust in the relationship. This is one of the most important jobs in the healing process and can either slow down or speed up the process depending on the efforts made.

Examples of Couple Issues that contribute to Affairs: unresolved resentments from earlier in the relationship, poor communication, never discussing what defines ‘an affair’ prior to the event,  earlier infidelity in the relationship, unresolved conflicts that have generated resentments, etc.

Examples of Individual Issues that contribute to Affairs: conflict avoidance, chldhood trauma, low self-esteem, addiction, need for attention, unresolved family of origin issues, etc

These issues are not a justification for affairs, but can sometimes make it more likely that someone would act out through having an affair rather than deal with their issues in a healthier way. Resolving their issues make them much less vulnerable to an affair.

Phase Three:  Reestablishing Trust and Setting Goals for the Future of the Relationship.  When the work of the first two phases is largely done, Phase three is relatively easy, and we meet less often and couples are feeling pretty good about their future together. Many couples feel their relationship is better than it has ever been and that they have learned an awful lot about relationships. If they have children, they also feel like they are better parents as well.

When choosing a therapist to help with your relationship, especially an affair, the therapist’s experience is very important.

The truth is, most therapists get very little training in couple therapy, and VERY little in working with AFFAIRS. They must seek out additional training and experience on their own and at their own expense. This is costly and time consuming. Couple therapy is quite a different skill than individual therapy. While most therapists will list couple therapy among the many issues they work with, they often do not have extensive experience with couples.

I have been specializing in couples work for 28 years (licensed since 1987) and have dealt with affairs for a good part of that time. I continue to seek additional training and consultation. I am passionate about helping couples achieve healthy relationships after an affair.

Call me to discuss how I can help you

Barbara Swenson, Ph.D., MFT


 My office is in Lafayette, CA

across from the Lafayette Bart station