Q & A - Intensive Marriage Counseling Retreats
Please click on a question below and be taken to the answer:
Why do you recommend a retreat format?
After 30 years of working with couples, we have found the private intensive counseling retreat format to be very effective in helping couples transform their problems. We developed this style of couples counseling based on clients who came from far away and wanted more time. Many couples wanted more anonymity; and didn’t want to see a therapist within their own communities. Some were frustrated with weekly psychotherapy. Many wanted more intensive therapy to get to the heart of the matter quickly.
What are the most significant reasons people come to see you?
- Sex: Sexual problems, desire differences, low or no sex, sex and aging
- Affairs: We offer a specific pathway to healing and recovery.
- Divorce: To say goodbye, or work on saving the marriage?
- Intimacy: the art of self revealing, opening the heart, sharing vulnerable thoughts and feelings.
- Retirement and Empty nest: Learning to say good bye to children who are moving out and growing up, learning to create a new a vital future together as a couple without the kids at home.
- Midlife crisis: Most of us encounter physical, emotional, mental, and sexual changes as we age. This process often brings with it, a sense of loss, sometimes depression, sometimes affairs, or other challenges. Addressing these, as a couple can be comforting, and will help each person understand themselves better, creating peace of mind and greater health.
- Living like roommates: When your relationship feels empty and you no longer converse, have sex, have fun, share values or friends… We help people rekindle connection, sexual desire, and a future as a happy couple.
- Visioning for the future: What are the values and goals that you want to live by as you move forward in your life – whether after retirement or whatever stage of the life cycle you are in.
- Communication & Conflict Repair: Non-wounding ways to listen and dialogue; how to get needs met without the power struggle.
- Pre marital counseling – Understanding what makes a marriage strong, learning to be emotionally intelligent and get it right… the first time or the second time!
What is your success rate?
Every couple defines their success differently. You will set goals ahead of time and we will spend the hours of the retreat addressing your goals for your relationship. Most couples that come because of severe difficulties find relief, reconnection, and a solution to the problems at hand. You will leave the retreat having connected more deeply, and you will create your own action plan for going forward. Couples who continue to pay attention to their partnership, and use the practices and skills often report that their relationship is transformed. You are welcome to talk to one or more couples that have worked with us to find out how they are doing and what happened for them during their retreat.
What actually happens during a retreat?
Our marriage counseling psychotherapy intensive is three or four days, with four hours of face to face contact with us each day. Depending on your circumstance and needs, we will help you decide how many days would be beneficial. We have found this to be the best amount of time to work mindfully without overwhelming the body, mind, or emotional systems. In the afternoons, you’ll be on your own for practice and integration.
We begin ahead of time; you’ll fill out some questionnaires and we may follow up with phone interviews with each of you so we can get to know you as much as possible and understand your specific situation and goals. Then we spend time before you get here designing and planning a retreat to meet your goals.
We suggest that you arrive in Durango, Colorado the evening before we begin. Durango is a short plane ride from Denver or Phoenix. You’ll make yourselves comfortable at a B&B or hotel of your choice, and on the first morning you’ll meet us in our log home, where we’ll spend the day diving into your history and personal vision for your relationship. We’ll teach you specific couples communication tools, and help you get started deepening the way you talk and listen to each other. As you take time to slow down, we’ll all begin to understand how you got where you are and what it will take to help you break through and resolve the relationship problems you wish to work on.
Our days together are designed to meet your specific relationship goals, personality, and styles of learning. We’ll take breaks; have some snacks, maybe even go outside for a walk and talk. We use dialogue, relationship education, non-verbal awareness exercises, partner yoga, and experiments with new ways of relating. We facilitate you in expressing yourselves skillfully, honestly, and with as much depth as you can. Kate is an equine therapist and uses horses to help people learn about themselves and relationships. Sometimes we may opt to introduce you to our herd and include them in our work with you.
Your goals for your relationship will guide our work together. We will help you stay connected to one another with respect, even if the going gets tough, as you work through issues. Conflict in a relationship is normal, but most couples don’t have the tools to stay present and calm so they can work through difficult problems. When you learn to lower your reactivity and build empathy for your partner, your relationship is much healthier, and your own personal distress is often relieved.
Can you give us a sense of the kinds of experiences we may have?
- Your relationship journey – how did you start out; how did you arrive where you are now? What are the hopes and dreams you had and maybe still have? What were the stressors, both positive and negative, that you went through along the way? How have these impacted your current levels of intimacy and connection? What can you learn from them going forward?
- What did you learn in childhood about being in a relationship? How was love modeled for you? How does that original template inform who you are in intimate partnership now?
- What part does your brain and nervous system play in what you experience in your marriage? What are the skills available to help you work with your own reactivity so you can be more present, more loving, more skillful in your communications with your partner?
- Deep listening and authentic speaking with out blame or shame.
The art of going inside yourself to discover your feelings, thoughts and belief systems. How the skill of internal awareness can radically change how you experience your marriage.
- Loving kindness and empathy – How to practice, how to connect even during hard times.
- Taking things less personally – how understanding your partner’s deeper feelings allows you to stop blaming yourself and them.
- Non-verbal ways to connect, touch, listen, and enjoy one another.
Please explain the difference between your counseling intensive and regular marriage therapy.
Many people who come to us for intensive marriage retreats express frustration with 45-50 minute counseling sessions where they just get going and it’s time to stop. The format of 4 hours a day for three or four days offers time to slow down, relax and work on your relationship without rushing. The experience is very different from couple’s therapy; you’ll have time to dive into your relationship dynamics, but also your own internal process, and who you are as an individual in your marriage. This gives you the opportunity to address underlying issues as well as create solutions you will take home with you. Another difference is that in traditional marriage therapy, you as a couple are often split apart in separate sessions. Although sometimes, we will meet one on one with each of you, we believe that the four of us working together provides a strong model for creating a healthy relationship where you can bring all of who you are to each other. In between our sessions, you’ll do homework, integrate and process, as well as rest and enjoy beautiful southern Colorado.
Do you have a religious approach to helping couples?
No. Our approach is non-sectarian and non denominational, which reflects our respect for people of all walks of life and all spiritual traditions. Our time with you will reflect our years of personal growth, training, and education, as well as our experience over the last 20 years developing our marriage counseling intensive retreats for couples of any age, any length of commitment, any sexual orientation. We welcome people who have different spiritual beliefs and practices. We believe that one’s spiritual life is extremely helpful to supporting a healthy marriage.
We have been in traditional talk therapy, where we sit facing the therapist and talk to him or her. Can you offer us something different?
We do not “talk about” what is happening and how you can change. We introduce new skills, behaviors, and attitudes with which you can experiment with our help! Primarily you’ll be interacting with each other in many different ways, both verbal and non-verbal.
Can we do an intensive retreat online with you instead of traveling all the way to Colorado?
Depending on your circumstances, we may be able to design an online retreat for you. You would need a large computer so you could be comfortable on a couch facing one another, and also be able to turn toward us. You would also need a private, quiet and uninterrupted space with no distractions (phones, TV, other people coming and going).
Are we on our own after the intensive?
We are committed to you being successful. Part of your retreat is a follow up Skype or face-time call several weeks after we finish. We’ll also make ourselves available to you for ongoing individual or couples therapy and coaching sessions by Skype or face time if you need more support.
Do you present a pre-packaged formula?
Never. Your retreat is designed specifically for you. We continually create new experiments, and enliven our work with our own experience, creativity, and where we are in our life cycle.
What is the benefit of you as a couple facilitating us in a marriage counseling retreat weekend?
We have been working together as a counseling and coaching team for over thirty years. Our journey as a couple is what informs our work with you. We are able to give you the perspective of two different partners (male and female in this case), and we feel free to show you who we are in our relationship, through stories, modeling, and demonstrations. We’re not perfect and we have good humor about ourselves, which we believe is a contribution. All the tools, insights, and guidance we share with you come from our life experience as well as clinical training.
Can we talk to a couple that has participated in one of your retreats?
Yes. We have a few couples that have offered to speak to people who wish to hear first hand about a retreat experience. We always ask their permission ahead of time if we can share their contact information with you.
How do we choose an intensive marriage retreat weekend that will give us results?
There are many good couples therapists out there and you have many choices. We always suggest that people take their time to interview several retreat facilitators. Some factors to consider:
- How long has the professional been facilitating retreats with couples one on one? How many couples have gone through a retreat with them? An intensive therapy retreat is very different from ongoing couples counseling.
- Is the professional an expert couples therapist? What is their approach to couples therapy; how long have they been practicing? What is their clinical background?
- If you are talking to a couple counseling team, make sure to ask them about their own relationship. Do they practice the relationship methods they will be teaching you? How long have they been together? How long have they been leading retreats together? How do they feel toward one another?
- You might be interested in how old the therapist is? How seasoned a human being is the person or people you will be hiring to help you?
- Ask to speak to a couple that has participated in a marriage retreat weekend.
Why should we choose you over another couple counseling team?
You will ultimately choose the marriage weekend retreat that works for your schedule, budget, and sense of what is right for you. We also recommend that you speak to one of us and get a sense of us personally; how we do what we do, and where we come from.
That said we’re a couple who has been happily and successfully married for 30 years, and good friends for over 40. We have spent our work life together developing our own approach to couples work based on many years of training as well as personal experiments and practice. On a daily basis we use the skills we teach others, and we are always looking for ways to deepen our love, explore ourselves more deeply, and translate that into experiments and lessons for other couples. We have recovered from hard stuff in our lives; we have raised and launched a great son; we have moved across the country to a small town and built a good life of balance, hard work, adventure and fun in southern Colorado. We find joy and excitement in working with other couples. You inspire and help us be better human beings.
As workshop presenters for many years, we have the unique skill of being a counseling and coaching team as well as group facilitators and program designers. This combination gives us the capability to design a “counseling program” that is based on your goals and personalities. We work outside of our sessions with you to review the process we are in and make sure we are helping you in the best possible way.
One of our strongest contributions to other couples is our authenticity about sharing with you who we are in our relationship. We have a lot of fun in our intensive retreats, even though sometimes the presenting issues aren’t always fun. We make your time with us safe, informative, useful, and very transformational. We promise you will leave with deeper connection, many skills, and a profound understanding of what will make your relationship more successful.
How do we schedule a retreat, especially if we have an emergency and want to get in very soon?
We schedule your retreat as soon as all four of us can coordinate our schedules. We also save emergency time slots for couples that want to come right away. Usually we can see you within a week to ten days under emergency circumstances.
Call or Email us now for a FREE CONSULTATION, application and registration forms.
Kate: 970 259 3424
Joel: 970 259 7585
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