Facilitated Disclosure versus Clinical Accommodation of Infidelity Secrets: An Early Pivot Point in Couple Therapy. Part 1: Couple Relationship Ethics, Pragmatics, and Attachment


infidelity, secrets, disclosure, nondisclosure, therapy


A critical and potentially polarizing decision in treating infidelity is whether facilitating partner disclosure or accommodating nondisclosure is most beneficial following private disclosure of infidelity to the therapist. Given couple distress and volatility following disclosure, understandably some therapists judge accommodating an infidelity secret both efficient and compassionate. Employing Western ethics and an attachment/intimacy lens, we consider ethical, pragmatic, and attachment intimacy implications of accommodating infidelity secrets. Issues bearing on the decision to facilitate disclosure or accommodate nondisclosure include (a) relationship ethics and pragmatics; (b) attachment and intimacy consequences; and (c) prospects for healing. We conclude that facilitating voluntary disclosure of infidelity, although difficult and demanding, represents the most ethical action with the best prospects for renewed and vital attachment intimacy.

Original Publication Citation

Butler, M. H., Harper, J. M., & Seedall, R. B. (2009). Facilitated disclosure vs. clinical accommodation of infidelity secrets: An early pivot point in couple therapy. Part 1: Couple relationship ethics, pragmatics, and attachment. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 35(1), 125-143.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



Journal of Marital and Family Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor