We’re not always getting the truth (especially about sex)

One of the things I love about being a couples therapist is that I believe I get more and better data than when I am seeing one person alone.   When an individual minimises the severity or impact of their behaviour to me,  I may have no idea (or I may even suspect, but I can’t be sure).  If their partner is present, there is at least a chance that they will object to the sanitised picture I am being presented with.

However this is certainly not always the case.  I have had many examples where I have later found out that their partner has colluded with the misrepresentation of someone’s behaviour.  This is sadly very common around aggression and violence but can occur in other areas as well.

I was interested to read this research which asked people about the ways they misrepresented themselves to their therapist.  Clearly we need to be mindful that we may not be getting “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. 

What particularly interested me was the section on things that people engaged in ongoing deception about.  Sex topped the list with 34% misrepresenting their sexual desires or fantasies and 33% their sex life.  Now this research was about individual therapy.  If people can’t be honest with their therapist about this stuff, what are the chances they can do so with their partner, let alone during couple therapy?

While this is not exactly news, it certainly brings home the importance of careful questioning around sex and sexuality. It’s a place where we are most likely to be misled unless we pay very close attention.  That means asking detailed questions and chasing down ambiguous answers

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