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Counseling/GWC seeking recovery


Dear Pete
Exactly a week ago my husband of 10 years confessed to me that he has been sexually involved with one of my best friends from college. The affairs started in a cabin where we all went on vacation together, and where our daughter learned how to climb up the stairs. I was devastated and immediately confided with two of my girlfriends, who also know the friend who betrayed me. They gave me much needed support and I was able to focus on griefing.

Since last Friday when this came out, I, and my husband, realized that we have hit the bottom of our marriage, and for the sake of ourselves, and our beloved daughter, we must make changes if we wanted our marriage to continue.

I stumbled across your website. I immediately got very intrigued by the premises and began to read your articles. I also got my husband into it. We started our first 'workshop' after our daughter went to bed. We are doing our first worksheet, to identify whether we are GWCs, and we are pretty sure we are. I have started a chart to identify my Inner children, guardians and managers. I also invited my husband to do the same, which I know he will. Right now, we are focusing our energy to learn about our own and each others' needs, and wounds. From the get go, the immediate relief I experience doing this work is that it frees my mind from the blaming and shaming I have been so accustomed to all my life. I am, for once, in my life, beginning to see how it is much more effective to isolate, for example, a person's subselves, and not lump all the 'bads' into a single person and judge him as a bad person and how he was bad and how I was treated badly, and therefore I suffer blah blah blah. I am 45 years old, my husband 51. We just both feel we don't have time for that stuff ANYMORE! We want our lives (whether we remain married or not) to be full of love, joy, peace, satisfaction. And more than anything we want to be the parents to our daughter that we never had. We both want that so much. We want to break the cycle.

Our question is simply, will be succeed?


Hello Tammy - the extent and permanence of yoir recoveries as persons, mates, and parents depend on several tthings:

1} hitting true bottom, and maintaing a long-term [multi-year] outlook

2] steady, spontaneous willingness to put recovery among your top several life priorities, except for emergencies;

4] steady williness to put your wholistic health first your marriage second, and everything else third; [except for emergencies];

5] world knowledge and life experience (IMO you're both at the right age;]

6] patience and flexibility - pace yourself in some kind of self-instruction framework of your choice;

7] open-mindedness, willingness to change and try new things;

10] determination to use win-win problem-solving together, vs. shaming. arguing. and blaming;

11] study and discuss [at least] lessons 1-4 in order

14] Desiure to build. maintain, and grow a suppor4t network along the way;

13] keep and use your senses of humor and the Serenity Prayer. Faith in a Higher Power is a significant asset in your healing;

This is not an exhaustive list of requisites, but it is indicative. The more of the requisites apply to you two, the more likely you'll suvceed/ In part, that depends oh how you define success.

I wish you both patience, determination, and healing. Questions are welcome!  - Pete  


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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about mood disorders, depression, suicide, relationships, communication skills, problem solving, clear thinking, bonding disorders, trauma recovery, addiction management, grieving, shame, guilt, fear, reality distortion, and trust disorders; courtship, family functioning, "problem kids," mediation, (re)marriage, divorce, stepfamilies, stepparenting, boundaries, self-neglect, abuse, parental neglect, personality subselves, ("parts work"). I cannot answer legal or medical questions.


I maintained a private therapy practice near Chicago for 27 years, and have worked with over 1,000 men, women, couples, and families on a wide range of personal and family problems. I have been in personal recovery from growing up in an alcoholic family since 1986, and have worked with five therapists to heal my own psychological wounds. I maintained a "warm (phone) line" for callers on the topics above for 20 years, and have taught over 200 seminars and classes in midwestern universities, churches, support groups, and schools since 1981. I have practiced internal-family therapy ("parts work") with trauma-recoverers since 1991.

National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council; Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit Network

# Several hundred articles in my non-profit "Break the Cycle!" Web site at These articles are augmented by over 150 educational YouTube videos .

# six books on childhood-trauma recovery, effective communication, and stepfamily courtship, coparenting, and management.

A bachelors degree in mechanical engineering (BSME, 1959) from Stanford University, a Masters degree in clinical Social Work, (MSW, 1981), and over 500 hours of post-grad training in the topics above - including clinical hypnosis, spirituality, codependence, addicrtion-management, and guided imagery. My post-grad traning includes two 9-month internships on doing internal-family therapy at the University of Illinois.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and comments from students and clients all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1,000 average Midwestern-US women, men, couples, and families. A physical disability limits me to doing telephone and Skype counseling now.

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