The process of couple healing following infidelity: A qualitative study

Mark H. Bird, Mark H. Butler, Stephen T. Fife

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Infidelity can have a devastating effect on marriages and individuals. This qualitative study explores the process of healing from infidelity and therapist behaviors that facilitate this process. In-depth client interviews suggest that healing occurs as couples pass through a seven-step process: (1) exploration of emotions and thoughts surrounding the infidelity, (2) expression of these to their partner, (3) development of empathy, (4) softening of emotions, (5) acceptance of personal responsibility and reduction of blame, (6) establishment of accountability, and (7) restoration of trust. While initially these factors occur sequentially, the process gradually becomes non-linear. Therapist behaviors which facilitate healing from infidelity are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Couple and Relationship Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 14 2007


  • Affair
  • Couples therapy
  • Infidelity
  • Marital therapy
  • Treatment


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