Facilitated Disclosure Versus Clinical Accommodation of Infidelity Secrets: An Early Pivot Point in Couple Therapy. Part 2: Therapy Ethics, Pragmatics, and Protocol


couple therapy, infidelity, therapy, secrets


In couple therapy, one partner's private disclosure of infidelity presents a potentially polarizing issue involving the therapist's decision to facilitate disclosure or accommodate non-disclosure. Some therapists may assume accommodating an infidelity secret is the most compassionate and efficient option. We consider this decision in the context of therapy ethics of equal advocacy and confidentiality, implications for individual and relationship healing, and pragmatic aspects of conducting therapy. We conclude that measured disclosure of infidelity, determined by the aggrieved spouse, best resolves the potential collision of multilateral advocacy with confidentiality and offers the best prospects for a working therapy alliance and couple healing and renewal. A clinical protocol for facilitating disclosure of infidelity secrets is presented.

Original Publication Citation

Butler, M. H., Seedall, R. B., & Harper, J. M. (2008). Facilitated disclosure vs. clinical accommodation of infidelity secrets: An early pivot point in couple therapy. Part 2: Therapy ethics, pragmatics, and protocol. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 36(4), 265-283.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



The American Journal of Family Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor