Polygraphs? Probably Not!
On occasion I’m asked if I use polygraphs in my work as a sexual addiction therapist. Polygraph requests are typically made by betrayed partners when trust in their relationship has been damaged.
I believe that trust is only re-established by seeing behavior that is consistent with words and intention over time. Polygraphs may appear promising in determining the betraying partner’s trustworthiness without the wait of seeing their behavior consistent with their words and intention over time. Too often, however, being asked to complete a polygraph brings up in the betraying partner hurtful feelings and anxieties that undermine opportunities to build/rebuild connection.
As well, polygraphs for the betraying partner are often a very punitive-feeling experience that breeds contempt and distrust for the entire recovery process. I find that once such contempt is set in, it is very difficult to reverse.
Attempts to swiftly resolve problems of trust too often brings unanticipated complications that disrupt the re-connecting coupleship process.
Yes, there are situations, I believe, when polygraphs are useful but only when polygraph’s cross purposes are understood and considered; otherwise, the need of married couples to heal and begin trusting each other will find themselves at the cross-purposes of polygraphs’ original intended use.
Best to let trust be earned… And that takes time.