Tiger Woods’ public apology likely part of therapy

Tiger Woods‘ public apology today appears to be part of his treatment, says a family therapist who uses a 12-step program similar to that used in therapy for alcohol and drug dependency.Bonnie Eaker Weil of New York City watched the televised statement and says she’s 100% convinced the program is behind Woods’ re-emergence. Woods referred several times to his “therapy,” but gave no details about it.

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“What he did today, where you actually publicly apologize, is the first step in any addiction program: You must show remorse,” Eaker Weil says. It requires “taking your inventory about what you’ve done and who you have hurt.”

This type of treatment includes eight to 12 hours a day in group therapy, with the sizes of the groups ranging from as few as six to as many as 30, she says.

During Woods’ 15 minutes in front of the cameras, he blamed himself for “irresponsible and selfish behavior” and the pain he’s caused his family, fans and business associates.

“He kept saying ‘I felt entitled.’ ” Eaker Weil says. Often those who go into this kind of therapy are narcissists, and they “go in there thinking they’re above the law and rules don’t apply to them. It’s a rude awakening when they have to take their own inventory.

“The hardest thing for them is to apologize and take responsibility for who they hurt. For the first time they’re experiencing consequences. Before, it was all about them and pleasure.”

Eaker Weil, author of the newly revised Make Up, Don’t Break Up, out next month, says the groups allow participants to improve relational skills, something she says it’s clear Woods really needs.

“Tiger is a private person. He’s not in touch with his feelings. They act out instead of talking it out,” she says.

Woods said his apology to his wife Elin will be not in words but in his behavior. But whether the marriage will survive Woods’ multiple infidelities is an open question. There is little research on marriages that weather cheating, although a new study planned by David Atkins, a research associate professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Beth Allen, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Colorado in Denver, may provide some answers.

Citing a 2004 study by researchers at Pennsylvania State University and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and a preliminary look at data from the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey of about 20,000 individuals, Atkins says, “It seems that infidelity raises the likelihood of divorce two or three times, though there are still many folks who have affairs and stay together.”

Eaker Weil predicts the Woods marriage will endure.

“They are under a microscope and are under more stress, and more pressure is on them,” she says. “They’re in the public eye and don’t want to ruin his public image. He’s going to work harder and she’s going to work harder since she comes from a divorced family.

“Their marriage has a better chance because there is more incentive than most people.”

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