Working through infidelity with cheating therapy

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated April 29, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Infidelity in a relationship can be a challenging experience. While cheating may lead to grief and difficult emotions, there is help available. You do not have to go through the healing process on your own. Therapy options such as online couples therapy may be able to provide targeted support to individuals who need to express and work through their feelings after infidelity. 

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Interested in working through an affair?

These therapy sessions may include treatment strategies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy designed to help improve communication, create a new foundation, and enable each partner to express their feelings about the experience. In combination with self-care practices and a support system, speaking with a licensed counselor may help individuals cope with their emotions and move forward from infidelity in a healthy way. Keep reading to learn more about cheating therapy and how it might help you and your partner reach your relationship goals. 

What is cheating therapy?  

Few experiences lead to the same loss of emotional intimacy and trust as cheating. Affairs can damage the foundation of a relationship and lead to emotional trauma, which may be difficult to recover from. However, research has shown that couples therapy may be able to help couples work through infidelity and rebuild their relationship

Cheating therapy is a form of couples therapy that focuses on partners’ physical and mental health as well as the relational aspects of resolving infidelity. It is designed to help couples heal, rebuild trust, and find ways to restore intimacy in their relationship. Through counseling, couples may develop strategies that help them move forward and re-establish a fulfilling partnership. Couples therapy for cheating may come in a variety of forms depending on the unique needs of the couple and the recommendations of the treatment provider. 

Some of the main strategies used in couples therapy for cheating may include:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is being used increasingly in couples counseling to help address cheating in relationships. CBT may be especially effective for helping couples uncover the underlying psychological reasons for an affair. It can also provide valuable insight into how both partners can improve communication and trust and develop healthier ways of coping with jealousy and insecurity. 

CBT helps couples recognize the negative behavioral patterns that may contribute to infidelity, including avoidance, defensiveness, and blaming. By increasing self-awareness, partners may be able to understand the impact their behavior had on the relationship and develop improved strategies for managing conflict.

Sex therapy 

Sex therapy can play an integral role in helping a couple rebuild trust and re-establish sexual intimacy. In addition to traditional therapy techniques, sex therapists may also provide guidance on how to safely explore sexuality. This could include introducing non-sexual activities into the relationship that both partners can enjoy together such as going on walks or cooking together, for example. In addition, sex therapists may suggest different ways for couples to explore sexual intimacy outside of intercourse—such as massage or fantasy play—which could help reignite passion in the relationship and reduce the temptation of infidelity. 

Sex addiction can also be an important factor addressed in cheating therapy. Sexual addiction typically involves compulsive engagement in multiple affairs and/or behaviors that are damaging to the relationship or unhealthy for the individual’s mental health. Through a combination of cognitive-behavioral approaches and interpersonal psychotherapy, sex therapists can work with their clients to identify the cause of their behaviors, develop healthier coping strategies and sexual habits, and learn how to mitigate the temptation of a sexual affair.  

Solution-focused therapy

In solution-focused therapy, both partners can identify potential problems in their relationship openly and honestly and then work together to find solutions. This type of therapy emphasizes healthy, effective communication between partners and can help them develop the ability to improve their interactions with one another. In therapy sessions, therapists may encourage the couple to focus on finding solutions rather than dwelling on past mistakes or problems. This approach can allow couples to set healthy boundaries, improve their communication skills, and gain a deeper understanding of one another—all of which can be necessary for rebuilding trust after cheating has occurred.

Reflective listening 

Reflective listening may help create a safe space for both partners to discuss difficult topics without fear of judgment or criticism from the other. It can encourage communication between partners so they can understand the motivations for cheating and how it has affected their mental health, sexual intimacy, and overall relationship satisfaction. By using reflective listening techniques during therapy sessions, counselors can help couples identify specific issues that need addressing so that they can move forward together. This step may be especially beneficial for the partner who was cheated on, enabling them to express their true feelings about the incident.  


The purpose of cheating therapy

The goal of cheating therapy is for both partners to gain insight into what led to the infidelity and work toward rebuilding trust within their relationship. This can be accomplished through various approaches to fit the specific needs of the couple. Each step may involve self-reflection and empathy building so that participants can recognize how their individual actions might have contributed to the problem. With guidance from a trusted therapist, a couple may be able to understand each other’s perspectives and create an environment where honesty, respect, and empathy become the foundation of a successful relationship. Other benefits of cheating therapy for couples could include: 

  • Improved communication: Couples therapy may help facilitate healthy forms of communication. Cheating may occur because of a lack of healthy communication, and the event might worsen a couple’s ability to communicate honestly with one another. In one study, researchers evaluated whether cognitive-behavioral therapy could improve communication and reduce stressors. They found CBT to be an effective method for addressing emotional responses and improving healthy couple communication.
  • Team skills building: Couples therapy may also be able to help couples improve their ability to work as a team by focusing on communication, understanding, and vulnerability. Through conversations facilitated by a professional therapist, couples can learn how to express themselves and listen to each other to create a safe space for honesty and growth. The therapist may help couples discuss and identify the root causes of infidelity, such as unmet needs or feelings of disconnection, and explore new ways of connecting with one another that foster a stronger team mentality. 
  • Increased empathy: Couples counseling may serve as a vehicle for understanding the dynamics of the relationship, including possible dysfunction. For those in a committed relationship, it can be difficult to get a clear, unbiased view of the relationship dynamic. With the help of a licensed couples counselor, couples may be able to gain a new perspective and recognize issues with communication, honesty, and other relational aspects that may have contributed to infidelity. 
According to experts, empathy is directly related to the satisfaction one has in a relationship. In one study, researchers found that as empathy increased in a relationship, overall relationship satisfaction increased as well. Through targeted treatments that focus on building empathy, such as Imago Relationship Therapy, couples may be able to widen their perspective and enhance their ability to work through difficult emotions.

Why do affairs happen?

Many couples may wonder why an affair took place in their relationship. Affairs might occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Feelings of insecurity
  • Emotional neglect
  • Personal unhappiness
  • Unmet needs for sexual intimacy
  • Unresolved mental health issues 
  • Sex addiction
  • Unresolved communication issues

Emotional affairs

Emotional affairs are characterized by intense feelings of connection and attachment. They may lead to the development of an intimate bond similar to those seen in romantic relationships. Emotional affairs can involve feelings such as love, trust, and sexual attraction, despite there being no physical intimacy. This dynamic can be difficult for some couples to navigate since each partner may have different expectations and boundaries around what constitutes a healthy level of emotional investment outside of the committed relationship.

The wounds caused by emotional affairs may be even more damaging than those resulting from sexual infidelity. Knowing that one's significant other has connected with someone else on an intimate level may feel hurtful and can result in challenging relationship problems. This trauma may be further exacerbated when feelings of jealousy or insecurity arise. These feelings may result from unequal levels of investment in the relationship or a lack of communication regarding the situation. 

Interested in working through an affair?

Whatever the reason for the affair, it can be important for both partners in a committed relationship to address any underlying issues so that they can move forward toward restoring trust.

Online couples therapy for cheating

Online couples therapy may enable couples to address the root causes of cheating and work toward rebuilding a new, healthy foundation for the relationship. This type of therapy may be more accessible for couples who are experiencing depression and/or anxiety because of infidelity. Online therapy offers a way for couples to access professional therapy from the comfort of their own homes, which may make them feel more comfortable opening up about their true feelings regarding the situation. It may also be ideal for couples who have conflicting or otherwise busy schedules or take care of children at home. 

Platforms like BetterHelp can offer therapy to individuals and couples. Some people may benefit from both individual and couples therapy to address their feelings alone and then again alongside their partner. 

The efficacy of online couples therapy for infidelity

If infidelity has impacted your relationship and you want to repair the connection you share, couples therapy could help. In one study, researchers found that 60-80% of couples who attended therapy after cheating were able to rebuild their relationship and experienced higher relationship satisfaction at the conclusion of the intervention. Another study found that couples therapy delivered through videoconferencing was effective in creating a strong therapeutic alliance. This delivery method allowed couples to become fully immersed in the process, and a majority of couples reported a beneficial and positive experience. 


Cheating therapy may be able to help couples who have experienced infidelity work through challenging emotions and make positive progress in their relationship. Each couple’s needs may differ, and the recommended treatment strategy could vary based on the underlying causes of the affair. Cheating therapy may consist of cognitive-behavioral therapy, problem-solution-focused therapy, Imago Relationship therapy, or other forms of targeted interventions. Connecting with a couples therapist online may allow couples to get the care and support they need without having to move around their busy schedules or make accommodations for childcare. Participating in therapy from the comfort and safety of home may also encourage couples to be more vulnerable, which may streamline the therapeutic process and contribute to greater healing. To connect with an online counselor who specializes in relationships, reach out to BetterHelp for compassionate support.
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