ELLA HUTCHINSON, LPC-S, CCSAS, CCTP
LICENSED PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR
CERTIFIED CLINICAL SEXUAL ADDICTION SPECIALIST
CERTIFIED CLINICAL TRAUMA PROFESSIONAL
JEFF HUTCHINSON, CPC, CPSAS
CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL LIFE COACH
CERTIFIED PASTORAL SEX ADDICTION SPECIALIST
COUPLES INTENSIVES FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Couples Intensives require a lot of hard work and dedication. Many couples are hesitant to make a commitment to something they don't know much about. Here are some common questions we get from couples considering an Intensive.
An Intensive is just what it sounds like. It is three days of intense counseling, including a combination of couple and individual sessions. The Intensive consists of a daily schedule of activities, exercises and therapy to help give you and your spouse a jump start to recovery from sexual addiction. While the schedule is planned out, we leave room for flexibility, based on each couple's unique needs.
Many things make our Intensive unique. Our Intensive is conducted by a licensed therapist who is the wife of a sex addict and her husband, a life coach and sex addict in recovery. Both are trained and certified in treating sexual addiction, but our personal experience is what makes us able to be more empathic to other couples.
Also, our Intensive takes place in a non-clinical setting with a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. Our intensive does not take place in an office. Your comfort as well as privacy are of the utmost importance to us.
In addition, unlike many sex addiction clinicians who have an addict-centric approach to treating couples, we work from the trauma model for partners which is a partner-sensitive approach. We do our best to make sure both the addict and the partner receive the treatment and attention they need and deserve.
One cornerstone to the Intensive is a clinical disclosure to the partner, which is a full disclosure of all acting out behaviors, from the sex addict. While this is usually a frightening concept for both, extensive research has been done on the benefit for the partner and the addict of clinical disclosure. The disclosure is done on the first day of the intensive. There are specific guidelines to preparing a disclosure and we strongly advise against trying to do this on your own. A disclosure should only be done in the presense of a skilled professional. After the disclosure the sex addict will take a polygraph test, administered by a certified polygraph examiner with years of experience working with sexual addiction, to verify that the disclosure was truthful and complete. The fee for the polygraph is $400 and is paid directly to the polygraph examiner. This is not included in the intensive fee.
In our experience, if both the husband and wife are willing to commit to an Intensive, whether or not the partner stays DOES NOT depend on the information that comes out in the disclosure. What is more important is that he is honest with her during the intensive, continues to stay in recovery after the intensive, and is able to remain patient and empathetic with his wife as she grieves his betrayal. The disclosure and polygraph are done on the first day of the intensive. The next two days we will work to help the partner process the information that she has heard and learn how to cope with and begin to heal from the pain of the betrayal. With time a marriage broken by sexual addiction can become stronger than ever.
According to Dr. Doug Weiss, a sex addiction therapist in Colorado, "when men agree to the polygraph and 'stay clean', most wives tend to stay in the marriage. But when partners refuse treatment, the wives are more apt to leave them." - article source via abcnews.com
Sexual addiction lives in the dark. Once the lies and secrets come into the light, the addiction loses a lot of its power. Further, the secrets a sex addict keeps from his partner prevent them from being able to fully experience intimacy in their relationship. For many reasons, the partner deserves to know the truth. Finding out about your spouse's sexual acting out behavior can be excruciatingly painful. But through this process you will find yourself stronger than you thought and you capable of handling more than you thought. While a partner has a right to have all his/her questions answered honestly, sordid details are not part of the official disclosure.
Since pornography is sexual, we consider a person who is addicted to porn a sexual addict or sexual compulsive. We have conducted many intensives with porn addicts/compulsives, and through these interactions, we often learn that there are other behaviors of which the partner is unaware.
During the Intensive you and your spouse will receive the equivalent of over 30 hours of therapy. We do not give out specific information in advance about the exercises and activities we do during the intensive. This is because we feel it would take away from the benefit of the Intensive. We will also ask you not to reveal specifics about your Intensive to others for this reason. Some topics covered during the Intensive include education about sexual addiction, it's causes and origin, the trauma the partner has experienced due to the addiction, tools to build intimacy in the marriage and restore trust, understanding each other, developing empathy, and teaching the addict how to become responsible for their own recovery while supporting their partner through the grieving process. While most beneficial early in recovery, couples in all stages of recovery have found the Intensive invaluable to their healing.
As long as both parties are 100% motivated for recovery, we believe most couples should apply for an Intensive as soon as possible. If approved, there will usually be at least a one month wait for your Intensive (during this time you will have pre-intensive reading and assignments to work on). In fact, we believe that waiting to do a clinical disclosure (ideally in the context of an Intensive), can be harmful to the marriage. With rare exception, we do not see any reason to wait to do an Intensive, provided both the addict and the spouse display motivation for recovery and have a strong support system in place. We must see dedication to sobriety and recovery activities in the addict, including willingness to attend weekly 12 step meetings, in order for us to agree to do an Intensive.
Couples travel from all over the country for our couple's intensives. We can provide you with a list of hotels in the area.
Jeff is a Certified Pastoral Sex Addiction Specialist and has also completed training for treating sex addiction through the American Association for Christian Counseling. Ella is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Clinical Sex Addiction Specialist. Click here to learn more.
It is important that you devote all 3 days of your Intensive, and ideally the day after, to your recovery. Arrangements must be made in advance for child care (including overnight) and other responsibilities. We strongly encourage you to stay in a hotel, even if you live in the area, as this helps you to focus on only the Intensive. If you do not stay in a hotel, if you have kids, they must be out of the home during the Intensive. In addition, during the Intensive, there is to be NO work or school related activity, no TV or internet use, and no cell phone use except to check in on kids (no more than once daily in most cases) and for intensive related purposes. Further, no unprescribed drugs or alcoholic beverages should be consumed for a minimum of one month prior to the Intensive and during the Intensive.
To be considered for an Intensive, BOTH the husband and wife must fill out brief applications.
Click here to apply.
Once both partners have applied, you will be contacted by Ella or Jeff.
3-DAY COUPLES INTENSIVE
"I felt so comfortable that I could talk about anything and not get judged, just get healthy feedback. This was probably the best thing that I've ever done and I am eternally thankful to my wife for finding this. Jeff and Ella have an authentic approach. Honestly, for me the only draw back was the drive. Yeah, it was that good."