Recovering From an Affair: When Individual Therapy Falls Short After Infidelity

Recovering From an Affair: When Individual Therapy Falls Short After Infidelity

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Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in Affair Recovery, Betrayal Trauma, and Surviving Infidelity. The owner of Relationship experts private practice and host of Relationships Uncomplicated Podcast
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Please read on for the final part of my interview with Terry Real, renowned family therapist, speaker, and author. We discussed his new book, “Us: Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship.” In this insightful read, you will discover how Relational Life Therapy helps couples recovering from an affair restore and strengthen their relationship.

How to Fix a Relationship After Infidelity: Individual Therapy Isn’t The Answer

Therapists often recommend individual therapy when dealing with infidelity, even though such a recommendation doesn’t make much sense. In fact, such a recommendation happens 80-90% of the time.

Join Relationship Experts' practice owner, Idit Sharoni LMFT, as she engages in a conversation with Terry Real, a renowned family therapist, speaker, and author, delving into the journey of recovering from an affair. Schedule a free consultation with us today to commence your healing process in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

I commented to Terry that most couples who come to our practice have already tried individual therapy. Sadly, without positive outcomes. Terry wasn’t surprised. He argued that affair recovery is not an individual process but a relational one. Unfortunately, this is routinely ignored due to individualistic bias in our culture.

Couples going to individual therapy expecting to solve relational problems often end up separating or divorced. Our team emphasizes the importance of healing as a couple too. We believe this is where real progress happens. Terry’s approach, which he calls Relational Life Therapy (RLT), addresses this issue.

How To Fix A Relationship After Infidelity: Relational Life Therapy Helps Couples Heal

Real explained the three-phase process of Relational Life Therapy (RLT) to support hurting couples in detail below. The ultimate goal is to help couples revive and transform their relationship.

Phase One: Carefrontation

This phase, also known as Carefrontation, involves identifying each partner’s inner Adaptive Child part. Understanding their automatic reactions (anger, avoidance, accommodation, etc.) is crucial. Terry notes that “making the implicit explicit” is critical in this phase.

Join Idit Sharoni LMFT in a conversation with Terry Real, a renowned family therapist, speaker, and author. Uncover valuable insights on how to fix a relationship after infidelity, and learn strategies to restore and strengthen couples' bonds in the United States and around the globe.

Phase Two: Doing Trauma Work Together

Unlike other forms of therapy, RLT involves deep trauma work. Terry aims to identify the root cause of a couple’s issues by exploring their family of origin and inner child work. In this phase, one partner sits with the therapist while the other partner speaks to the inner child they once were. Often, this process helps partners open their hearts towards each other.

Phase Three: Teaching Skills for Success

Terry asserts that our culture does an inadequate job of teaching us successful relationship skills, though we expect more from our relationships than ever before. This third and final phase involves teaching couples new skills that help them do things differently.

Smiling couple leaning foreheads, showcasing their journey of discovering how to fix a relationship after infidelity and reclaiming happiness together. Unlock the keys to success in your infidelity recovery journey with guidance from our expert Relationship Counselors, available in the United States and globally.

Terry shared Bill’s story, a client who learned to tap into the more mature place inside himself. By acknowledging his Adaptive Child, Bill recognized that this immature part had become maladaptive in his marriage. After doing some inner child work, Bill was able to give up his habit of lying when he was stressed. His wife was amazed at the change in him. Terry emphasized that true recovery was moving beyond automatic responses to a more centered, productive place.

What is the ultimate outcome of Terry’s approach to therapy? Couples heal and genuinely transform their relationship while recovering from an affair. 

How To Fix A Relationship After Infidelity: Neuroplasticity

Terry explains that our understanding of neurological pathways and habits has evolved. While we previously believed that once a habit was formed, it was permanent, we now know that we can open up neural pathways and create new tracks that are permanent thanks to Bruce Ecker and memory reconsolidation biologists. Two things are needed to open up these pathways: first, implicit things must become explicit, and second, we need to recognize the discrepancy and recoil.

Neuron diagram illustrating the malleability of habits and pathways. Understanding the neurological shifts is crucial in recovering from an affair. Explore the transformative 'It's Okay to Stay' infidelity recovery program by contacting Relationship Experts. Available in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Globally.

Once these two elements are in place, a new track (a corrective emotional experience) can be laid down, leading to permanent changes in a person. I shared that I was amazed by the possibilities and the fact that change is possible within five hours. Terry emphasizes the importance of getting people to see the discrepancy so they can wake up to the reality of their situation and take action.

Harshness is a trait of the Adaptive Child within us, and Terry explains that it has no redeeming value. He advises against countering harshness with even more harshness. Instead, he suggests using loving firmness when your adaptive inner child emerges. Pay attention to them but don’t let them take control.

How to Fix A Relationship After Infidelity: Reparenting & Recovery

According to Terry, the key to recovery is treating yourself as a parent would. He suggests focusing on your Adaptive Child. Intentionally listen to, love, and limit them before transitioning to the Wise Adult part of yourself.

In terms of dealing with oneself, Terry shared his experience of learning to relate to himself as a Wise Adult. He now protects Little Terry, who is between 8 and 10 years old, by mentally placing him behind him and taking the hit himself. This allows Wise Adult Terry to interact with his wife. For example, when he spilled wine on his dress shirt, he spoke kindly to his Adaptive Child, explaining the same ADD brain that ruined it, and also wrote the books he autographed.

Terry concluded that our culture’s relationship with relationships (including our relationship with ourselves) is often passive. We can shape our relationships proactively when recovering from an affair. We must work with our connections, correct faulty thinking, and recenter ourselves.

Terry teaches his clients to train their friends to be relational with them and not individualistic. It is essential to practice reaching for our better selves to achieve growth.

Image of a man embracing a woman, symbolizing rebuilding trust and connection after infidelity. Discover proactive strategies on how to fix a relationship after infidelity and cultivate happiness and love. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more. Our services are available in the United States and Globally.

The Takeaway

We are grateful to Terry Real for sharing his time and perspective on relationship reconnection and healing. Were you encouraged by his thoughts? It’s never too late to make the changes you and your partner long for. Terry recommends visiting his website, for additional insights and resources. He also invites people and couples who want to learn how to interact with relational skills to look into his Us Relationship Workshop. With Terry’s guidance, you can gain a better understanding of yourself and your relationship.


Are you and your partner ready to transform your connection with vital relationship support? We’re here to work with you. Our team of relationship experts will help you foster a more loving and trusting relationship. 

Please take the next step towards recovering from an affair and reach out today. Seek guidance at Relationship Experts. With our proven infidelity recovery coaching program, you and your partner can take meaningful steps toward a new relationship and authentic restoration. Take these three straightforward steps to get set up right away:

  1. Schedule your free consultation.
  2. Meet our program specialist to learn more about our Affair Recovery Programs and how we can support you.
  3. Start healing your relationship!


Our team members at Relationship Experts provide varied affair recovery services designed to aid relationship healing. Our private practice is based in the United States, however, our services are available globally. Please connect with us online throughout the United States, Canada, and the UK. Furthermore, you may find services such as Surviving Infidelity, for more tools and information. We also offer a blog page to help you answer questions about your readiness for a recovery program.



I’m Idit, your blog writer & podcast host.

practice owner relationship expert PODCASTER
blog writer

I am the owner of the highly respected Relationship Experts private practice based in Miami, Florida and focused on affair recovery. In over a decade and together with my team, we help couples with surviving infidelity and healing from betrayal trauma

A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in Affair-Recovery and Infidelity Counseling in The United States and worldwide.

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