When Is It Best To Do Formal Therapeutic Disclosure?Sep 26, 2023
Goldilocks liked things "just right." The porridge was too hot or too cold. The chair was too hard or too soft. The bed was too high or too low. Eventually though, she always find one that was "just right."
Finding the "right time" for Formal Therapeutic Disclosure is far more challenging, especially since it's typically done "once in a lifetime." [que "The Corrs"]
To answer the question, "when is it best," we must first consider who's making the judgement call:
- From the perspective of the betrayed spouse, the "best" time is most likely NOW
- From the perspective of the unfaithful/addict, the "best" time is typically NEVER
- From the perspective of the marriage system, the "best" time is WHEN IT'S THERAPEUTIC FOR BOTH
So how do you navigate such opposing opinions? It's a messy challenge that stretches everyone!
- Some professionals prioritize the needs of the addict over the needs of the betrayed and marriage.
- Other professionals prioritize the needs of the betrayed over those of the addict and the marriage.
- MRC balances the needs of both spouses and the marriage system.
To do so requires an emphasis on desired outcomes over prescriptive timing.
- Too early means disclosure lacks therapeutic benefit, a "filet for facts" exposé void of healing.
- Too late means the betrayed spouse goes crazy waiting, while shame compounds for the addict.
- Timing that is "just right" maximizes therapeutic benefit for everyone and is difficult to achieve!
Making it Visual
Let's use a diagram to consider three options for timing of FTD, each represented by a yellow star.
The impact on disclosure will be equally negative regardless of when it occurs, represented by a red line.
The pre-disclosure rate of relationship improvement is represented by a blue line. (This assumes both spouses are faithfully doing individual recovery work)
The post-disclosure rate of improvement is represented by green lines.
Too soon and the marriage may not survive the impacts of disclosure. In this case, disclosure might be formal, but it wouldn't be therapeutic. Alternatively, they may survive, but achieve no better rate of healing than without it.
In the middle, the impact brings a couple dangerously close to zero, but they can safely weather the impact. Their rate of healing increases and they eventually surpass where they would have been without full disclosure.
The last star represents an ideally timed FTD for a couple who have already made significant strides in relationship healing, thereby able to quickly recover from the impact of disclosure and achieve a radically improved rate of relationship improvement.
Not pictured is the LATE disclosure which has significant negative impacts on the betrayed spouse and feeds the ongoing shame of the addict. These cases become unpredictable and no significant trend can be described.
So when is it best?
It depends on who you ask and what the goals are... is the point of FTD information or transformation? At MRC, we believe the answer lies in strategic integration of both!
To insure maximum therapeutic benefit and the ideal timing, Jeremy works with both spouses individually in parallel during the preparation phase.
As a result, some couples have reached FTD in 12 weeks, while others have taken 12 months. It all depends upon how committed each spouse is to their respective work of preparing for FTD.
Learn more about the FTD process and how it changed
Dustin's life, marriage and relationship with God.
- Part 1: What Is Formal Therapeutic Disclosure?
- Part 3: Polygraph Exams In Formal Therapeutic Disclosure
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