Journey To Healing & Joy - How A Support Group Can Help You Recover From Betrayal Trauma
Each of our lives is a story; and right now, your story is filled with the pain that comes when we
experience sexual betrayal.
This group uses the workbook Journey to Healing and Joy – A Workbook for Partners of Sexual Addicts written by Marsha Means as a supplement to a book she wrote with Barbara Steffens, Your Sexually Addicted Spouse.
In this 15 week Facebook group, Coach Laura will walk with you as you travel your own path to
healing and joy. The suggested reading and healing exercises included in this workgroup will
help you to better understand and process the trauma you’re experiencing. During these 15
weeks, you will walk alongside other women who share in your pain, your struggles, your hope,
your victories, and ultimately your joy. We will explore together why labels like “codependent”
don’t really serve us on this journey – even if we are, because it’s trauma that we’re healing
In the safe community of this group, you will
- Come to terms with your reality, so that you can better face it, address it, and grow in it
- Explore and process the many emotions you are struggling with – anger, shame, sadness, fear, decreased self-esteem, loneliness – and develop a plan and learn strategies to handle these feelings in a way that is healthy and authentic
- Learn the beautiful freeing practice of detachment and develop skills leading to your personal empowerment
- Develop a self-care plan that goes beyond “eating right, sleeping well, and exercising” (though those are important, too), but also includes supportive, nurturing relationships, within and outside of this group, dealing with our negative thoughts, false beliefs, managing triggers, and finding and practicing ways to relax and find joy, exploring what it means to be who you are, what your values are and how to put those into practice
- Grieve your losses
- Create and enforce boundaries through the development of effective consequences
- Explore the idea of forgiveness without pressure to act before you’re ready or before it’s healthy
- What it takes to trust again
- How to get your needs met
- Find your voice and speak your truth
- Begin to develop a plan to live a life of authenticity based on your values, rather than your fears
By the end of 15 weeks, you will have a plan in place for your healing, and yes, even for joy. You will have grown in your bond with this community of women who share in your struggles, and you will recognize within yourselves and each other your strengths and your unique gifts that will enable you to thrive beyond betrayal.
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. I'm Anne. Coach Laura is here today to talk about her upcoming Facebook group which is Journey to Healing and Joy. Click here to see the date and time and to register now. We are very excited about this group. She’s been preparing for this awesome group for a long time. Welcome Coach Laura!
Coach Laura: Thank you. I'm very happy to be here today.
Online Support Groups For Abused Women
Anne: So Laura, why did you decide to do the Facebook format with this workbook, Journey to Healing and Joy?
Coach Laura: I participated in a couple of FB groups myself, both as a co-coach and as a participant. Once I was participating, I realized how many benefits there are. One of them is that it is affordable--less expensive than many in-person groups and a lot less expensive than one-on-one coaching. The amount of privacy that is provided is ideal. It's considered a secret group on FB which means that only those in the group know you are part of the group or even that it exists. FB is there for participants 24/7 so there is no more waiting until later in the week to go to a coaching session and talk about something that is on your mind. You can get up at any time of night or morning and talk about the things on your mind.
The nice thing is someone is going to get back to you right away. I will be on there often several times a day. In the meantime, other group members may have something to offer, even if in no other way than in encouragement. The other thing I like about FB is that I feel like I can give an almost one-on-one level of support to each individual even though it is a group because in the FB group I have to be sure that everyone gets equal time within a certain time frame. Sometimes we have to just skim the surface with different topics. Here on-line I give everyone equal attention but I'm not constrained by the clock; this is very beneficial to the women in the group.
Anne: Our FB groups have been very popular. We have been running the Spiral Path and Facing Heartbreak with Coach Rae and Intimate Treason with Coach Kat. Coach Laura is amazing! We are very excited to get this FB group going to give women more options for support. So Coach Laura, tell us about the unique training and knowledge you bring to the table that women may benefit from.
Coach Laura: My initial training is in the area of the sex addiction itself. I did the training through the American Association of Sex Addiction Therapy. I did actually follow up with that to get certification to work with those sex addicts and the partner, although today I am more interested in working just with the partners and occasionally couples. There was a very strong intimacy anorexia component to this training so I am very comfortable working with women who are struggling with this particular issue in their marriage.
While I am a partner myself, I am very familiar with betrayal trauma from a personal experience standpoint. After finishing training with AASA, I really wanted to be trained by APSATS - the Association of Partners of Sex Addiction Trauma Specialists. I knew I really wanted the in-depth knowledge and up-to-date information on how to address partner trauma. I had experienced it myself but it was wonderful to get the training by Barb Stephens and get all of the up-to-date information on it.
Professional Support Services For Wives Of Sex Addicts
I have also completed the coursework to be certified in therapeutic separation in order to assist couples who are interested in exploring how various forms of separation can help them explore the future of their relationship. I want to say a little about this because I don't ever want anyone to think that I am encouraging separation. What I have found in this training is that probably 99% of us are in a form of separation from our partners anyway because it includes a psychological separation. What this training has given me is a 10-step process or framework to help them go this period in a structured way and really look and see what they need to make the relationship work.
Lastly, I have training as a Stephen's Minister which means I can offer Christian-led coaching. I am very well versed in client's processing grief and spiritual questions. Not that I have the answers to all of those questions necessarily but I am definitely comfortable sitting with people in their grief and processing those questions with them.
Anne: Those are good things to know, Coach Laura. Just in case women are not interested in the journey to Healing and Joy FB group, they can get these services from you by scheduling a support call. We have several clients working through these issues with you right now. This is what I love about our groups and coaches--they are experts in these topics, helping women in groups and in support calls.
Coach Laura, what principles stand out most as you coach women through this process?
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Coach Laura: All of the APSATS coaches on BTR follow the APSATS model of having the three phases of trauma healing: safety and stabilization, grieving and processing, and reconnection. Of course this isn't necessarily a linear process but among those stages, there are key principles that I work with my clients on.
In the safety and stabilization stage, I really stress the importance of values, living and setting boundaries to protect the values, and picking out the obvious safety boundaries—physical and emotional...I work with women on how to manage triggers and generally finally rest from this process because this healing and recovery process, especially if we stay with our spouses, can take a really long time. I really stress living out our values and making decisions based on them and protecting them. Self care is another area that is extremely important. All of these phases begin with the safety and stabilization phase.
Then it continues into phase two, the grieving and processing phase. In this stage I especially like the Journey to Healing and Joy materials because it's really helps people process through their grief and their strong emotions. The principles I focus on the most in this stage are expressing emotions and accepting them. Another area we work on with all three stages is trigger management. As most women are aware, we can be triggered by just about anything. We need some really good tools to help with these moments. This is an ongoing principle I work on.
Reconnecting After An Affair
Lastly, the third phase of reconnection is to me like the icing on a not-very-good cake! Reconnection is what we all want and what we all need. We need a community and a loving circle around us; everyone needs this but especially when we are going through a trial like this. This is the reason why sex addiction is so devastating to women--it breaks the bond with the person who should be most connected to us.
If our husbands are on a healthy path, maybe that bond can be reconnected; maybe it can't but I really strive to make that a goal when the women are ready to pursue that connection with friends and family with safe people, I often strive to make it something that can be found in my group.
Anne: Like members connecting with other members of the group so they feel that support and safety within the group itself.
Coach Laura, what is special or different about the journey to Healing and Joy workbook that you feel will benefit women in this group?
Coach Laura: I love the Journey to Healing and Joy for a lot of reasons. I am so excited to do this group because of the specific material I am using. First of all, I want to mention that this group will require the purchase of two books, worth every penny: The Journey to Healing and Joy workbook by . This is a companion to the book Marcia wrote called Your Sexually Addicted Spouse, which I can't praise enough. I think every partner, whether they are in a group or not, should have this book.
Anne: Both of these are available on the btr.org/books page.
Coach Laura: Barb Steffens is the founder of APSATS. It is her research in the book that has been instrumental in getting the word out about betrayal trauma. It is changing treatment options for women. After reading this book, women will have an excellent understanding of the trauma they have experienced and how to heal from it--they will be well on their way to that healing; they will also understand more about their partner's addiction but not in a way that says, "Look. There are good reasons for this."
There are reasons for how addiction is developed, but it's not meant to defend the addict's behavior. It's about helping women understand that this is not anything they caused nor can they fix it. It's a real thing and he is responsible for it. This is good news for a lot of women who are just in this process.
The Journey to Healing and Joy workbook encourages women to use the info in Barb's book and apply it to their specific situations in powerful and meaningful ways. the workbook provides an opportunity for women to really process what has happened to them in this trauma, to help them to apply the information in very practical healing ways with all the necessary tools.
Women will gain a clearer picture of their reality, learn to cope with their strong emotions, learn personal empowerment principles with tools like I mentioned before like having boundaries, learning to process detachment, self-care and soothing techniques, and the like. They will have a safe place to process and grieve their losses; most of all, they will begin to do what the workbook calls in chapter 8: Finding Way Your Way Back To You. This is what I want so much for the women I work with. We are all strong, normal, healthy women stuck in a really hard place. We have values and roles that are important to us; many women get thrown by this. This is what trauma and addiction does. I am really hoping for this FB format and this particular workbook to provide this safe place to get back on track and find their way back to themselves.
Anne: Some of the principles you mentioned, for example detachment, are impossible to learn without the support of a professional and a support group. Let me give you an example: I would talk to my mom and sister who are wonderful and extremely supportive. I love them and they are amazing and they wanted my relationship to work out; they would talk to me but they did not have a concept of how unsafe I was or how I needed to detach.
And then I would talk to the professionals in my life, APSATS coaches, my therapist, and their description of detachment really helped me to understand what I needed to do to gain safety. It wasn't that my mom and sister weren't so supportive and amazing; when I explained to them what I needed to do from the assistance I received from professionals, my mom and sister said that they had never thought of that before...because they aren't professionals in the field; they were just supportive people. For me to learn these important principles...no contact, detachment, boundaries...I really needed professional APSATS help.
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Coach Laura: I think that detachment is one of those things that is often misunderstood anyway because it sounds like you're totally disconnected. That's not what it is at all. It's putting an emotional buffer between you and the chaos. It's not checking out--in fact, checking out can be a red flag, a signal of being in an unhealthy place. this detachment says, "I'm going to be ok whether or not you're okay....I'm going to practice my values and set my boundaries and your reaction isn't going to slow me down. Honestly, it is hard to learn but definitely with a coach's help there are tools that can make it easier to understand what it looks like.
Anne: Yes. The coaches are really well trained with how to explain this so it makes sense and helps women to actually apply it in their lives. So speaking of how, how do you describe your coaching style?
Coach Laura: I think of myself as a "gentle coach." I don't know if there is a style terminology for that. Like any good coach, I ask questions that challenge the women I'm working with to think about their situation anew in different ways if the current way isn't working for them. In general, this is what coaching is. when you asked me this it made me think of an email I got from a male, which didn't apply to me anyway, but he asked for a script disciplinarian type person. I kind of had to laugh because I know this isn't me.
I'm going to challenge the women that I work with. There is a lot of faulty thinking that we put ourselves through--the "I'm not good enough...because we've been blamed for this or we've gotten bad advice somewhere along the line." I feel like I'm pretty direct. I'm willing to challenge people. I'm willing to ask them to come out of their box. I think this is why they are here. But I'm a really gentle person. This is hard and I know what it feels like. People who are coming to these groups looking for help are coming from all sorts of backgrounds and situations and the one thing they all have in common is they need compassion and gentle understanding. That is largely where I come from.
I'll never forget as I was going through this and in early recovery, my husband and I were going to his counselor (although he was to be 'our' counselor). We were seeing someone who did not have any understanding of partner trauma. I'll never forget sitting in his office and saying to him how much I wish I could read my husband's book he was working in. The counselor said, in a very strong, harsh way that I had a lot of problems with boundaries. I thought I was going to flip out! I thought, "I have problems with boundaries?!"
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I knew there was something wrong with this at the time. I realize now that what he should have said was that of course I wanted to look in there. My life had been destroyed by secrets and this was another place where secrets were being encouraged to be kept. If he had any idea what my process was, he would have validated my desire...and maybe he would have gone on to say that it wasn't a good idea if I really wanted him to have a place where he could be honest with himself. I understand this now but there was nothing wrong with me wanting to know what was in that book. I did not have an issue with boundaries! I remember this experience and I want partners that I work with to understand that those things they wonder about and feel are all normal and understandable.
Anne: And they have had enough abuse--from their husband and from counselors, therapists, church leaders, other people--telling them they shouldn't feel like this or that; that they need to forgive or stop thinking this or that...when the things they are thinking and doing are totally valid and normal and appropriate for the situation. I love BTR for this because it validates that we are normal for being angry, for not trusting him...that it would be weird to trust him...that some things wives are asked to do, those things are weird! We don't feel comfortable with it and this is why BTR works for us.
Coach Laura: Yes. What is written in that book, from my standpoint, was a matter of my personal safety. There are people out there who don't get it. I'm really looking forward to having this group as a place for women to come together with someone who does get it.
Anne: Yes! We all get it here! Sometimes we may not say the right thing; sometimes I may say something that doesn't jive with someone or they aren't sure what I mean...but in terms of understanding what it feels like to be lied to, cheated, and then blamed for it, you've come to the right place! We all understand even if we might express it differently.
I'm so excited that you are doing this group Laura and hope that many women will join so they will feel supported and validated in this process.
To schedule click here. Our groups are filling quickly so if you are interested in this, please sign up soon. We've had many of our FB groups fill quickly. After you sign up, Coach Laura will send an email giving you details about how and when to join the FB group.
Anne: If you can't wait for that group, we have Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club available to you. You can sign up for it right away. We also have a few other groups. Click on btr.org/support to see what we offer.
As always, all of our coaches are available for support calls.
Please post your comments below. We want to hear what you think. Comments help other women who are isolated feel a little more hope.
Also, we're finding that when women find out about BTR, they say they wish they have found us sooner. If you are reading, please let your friends know about BTR. You might be surprised at how helpful they will find Betrayal Trauma Recovery. We would appreciate you spreading the word about our services.
Thanks for being here today. Until next week, stay safe out there!