Kirstee Williams, PhD, is a candidate at Loma Linda University; Carmen Knudson-Martin, PhD, is professor and director of the PhD Marriage and Family Therapy program at Loma Linda University.
Do Therapists Address Gender and Power in Infidelity? A Feminist Analysis of the Treatment Literature
Version of Record online: 3 MAY 2012
© 2012 American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy
Volume 39, Issue 3, pages 271–284, July 2013
How to Cite
Williams, K. and Knudson-Martin, C. (2013), Do Therapists Address Gender and Power in Infidelity? A Feminist Analysis of the Treatment Literature. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 39: 271–284. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2012.00303.x
- Issue online: 16 JUL 2013
- Version of Record online: 3 MAY 2012
Sociocontextual factors such as gender and power play an important role in the etiology of affairs and in recovery from them, yet it is unclear how current treatment models address these issues. Drawing on feminist epistemology, this study utilized a grounded theory analysis of 29 scholarly articles and books on infidelity treatment published between 2000 and 2010 to identify the circumstances under which gender and power issues were or were not part of treatment. We found five conditions that limit attention to gender and power: (a) speaking (or assuming) as though partners are equal, (b) reframing infidelity as a relationship problem, (c) limiting discussion of societal context to background, (d) not considering how societal gender and power patterns impact relationship dynamics, and (e) limiting discussion of ethics on how to position around infidelity. Analysis explored how each occurred across three phases of couple therapy. The findings provide a useful foundation for a sociocontextual framework for infidelity treatment.