Adult IAPT Additional Modalities for Depression Supplementary Programme

Behavioural Couples Therapy - Helping Couples Get Past the Affair: Applying Couple Therapy Principles to Relationship Traumas

Professor Don Baucom, founder of Behavioural Couples Therapy, University of North Carolina

Sunday, 9 October 2022


Although affairs can have devastating effects on couples and their loved ones, both couples and therapists acknowledge that they often do not know how to address these situations effectively. Couples list infidelity as one of the leading causes of divorce, and couple therapists rate it as one of the most difficult problems to address with couples. Therapists’ difficulties in part result because they do not have a way to conceptualize infidelity, along with specific treatment interventions that follow from this understanding. This one day workshop presents an integrative approach to treating affair couples, along with addressing the resulting distress such as depression and the couple’s sexual relationship that are part of the clinical picture.

The event will be equivalent to 5.1/2hrs of CPD.


The treatment integrates cognitive-behavioral with insight-oriented or developmental techniques. Three stages of intervention are described:

Stage I: Containing the initial impact. Interventions in this stage include:
(a) re-establishing relational and individual equilibrium by establishing new behavioral routines between partners and promoting self-care and (b) limiting further trauma by minimizing destructive exchanges between partners. Stage II: Examining the context. This stage is the core of the treatment and helps the couple come to an understanding of how the affair came about, taking into account what was happening with each partner, how their relationship was proceeding, and what factors in their environment made one person vulnerable to the affair. This understanding helps the couple consider what would need to change if they decide to stay together in the future. Stage III: Moving on. Interventions in this stage help couples to reach an informed decision about how to move forward – either separately or by continuing the relationship – and to identify additional steps needed to assist both partners and their relationship.
Because physical and sexual interactions typically are disrupted throughout this difficult time, discussion is included for how to assist couples with their physical relationship, taking into account the limits of a therapist’s training. Throughout the intervention, treatment attends to each person’s individual functioning, with an emphasis on depression that often results from infidelity.

Learning Objectives

(1) Understand the basic behavioral, cognitive, and emotional interventions needed to assist distressed couples.
(2) Know how to take into account the needs of each partner, the relationship, and how the couple interacts with their environment in developing a treatment plan for each couple.
(3) Addressing depression and related responses resulting from the affair.
(4) Understand couples’ recovery from an affair from a trauma perspective.
(5) Be familiar with the 3-stage treatment model for affair couples.
(6) Integrate treatment of infidelity with treatment of other relationship domains.

Training Modalities

The workshop will include brief presentations by Professor Baucom, group discussion, and videotapes and live role plays of therapy sessions demonstrating intervention techniques.

Key References

Baucom, D.H., Epstein, N.B., Fischer, M.S., Kirby, J.S., & LaTaillade, J.J. (in press). Cognitive-behavioral couple therapy. In J. Lebow, & D. K. Snyder (Eds.), Clinical handbook of couple therapy (6th ed.). New York: Guilford.
Baucom, D. H., Fischer, M. S., Corrie, S., Worrell, M., & Boeding, S. E. (2020). Treating relationship distress and psychopathology in couples: A cognitive-behavioural approach. Abingdon, England: Routledge.
Baucom, D.H., Snyder, D.K., & Gordon, K.C. (2009). Helping couples get past the affair. New York: Guilford Press.
Gordon, K.C., Mitchell, E.A., Baucom, D.H., & Snyder, D.K. (in press). Couple therapy and the treatment of affairs. In J. Lebow, & D. K. Snyder (Eds.), Clinical handbook of couple therapy (6th ed.). New York: Guilford.
Snyder, D. K., Baucom, D. H., & Gordon, K. C. (2007). Getting past the affair: A program to help you cope, heal, and move on – together or apart. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

About the presenter

Donald H. Baucom is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. He is one of the developers of cognitive-behavioural couple therapy and has been actively involved in adapting and evaluating couple-based interventions for a variety of issues that couples confront. This work includes interventions for relationally distressed couples, treating infidelity, and employing couple-based interventions for couples in which one partner has a psychological problem or long term condition. In addition to his research in the couple’s area, he and colleagues have published three widely used books on cognitive-behavioural couple therapy. Regarding his work on infidelity, he is a co-author of two books on recovering from infidelity, one for therapists and a self-help book for couples. He and his colleagues have conducted one of the few empirical investigations of treatment for infidelity. He also has been an active clinician in private practice with couples for over 45 years. He has won several teaching awards, and he holds an Endowed Chair at the University of North Carolina for his research contributions to the field. He also has received awards for his excellence in clinical supervision and mentoring doctoral students. He gives frequent workshops to professionals in the United States and other countries around the world, also having consulted with the NHS for many years.

Who should attend

This workshop is intended for therapists who work with couples in IAPT and Relate counselors who have completed the Behavioural Couples Therapy 5-day training and want to enhance their understanding of infidelity and how to employ existing couple interventions to address concerns focal to this relationship trauma. Whereas beginning couple therapists can benefit from the workshop, some experience working with couples is optimal since the workshop assumes general knowledge of couple therapy and emphasizes how to address infidelity per se. Highly experienced couple therapists have often attended this workshop and reported the workshop to be valuable in enhancing their work in this area.