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Shame, culture, and gender: rethinking the treatment model for couple therapy after an affair

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Both the trauma-based and object relations treatment models for couple therapy after an affair can be counterproductive and insufficient because they do not adequately address the powerful motivators of behaviour embedded within cultural and gender norms. In this context, it is essential for therapists to be aware of the impact of culture on our sense of self and couple relationships. We need to make visible deeply internalised gender and cultural norms earlier in the therapeutic process. These hidden values often manifest themselves through the core emotion of shame. Understanding how shame operates intrapsychically, relationally, therapeutically, and socially is a critical task for practitioners. Couple therapy practice must go beyond the "trauma" of an affair to include the larger social cultural political reality.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2021

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  • Couple and Family Psychoanalysis aim is to promote the theory and practice of working with couple and family relationships from a psychoanalytic perspective. It seeks to provide a forum for disseminating current ideas and research and for developing clinical practice.
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