Private Intensive Retreats

Did you ever feel like you were just getting warmed up when the therapist said, “We need to stop now.” Many people who have come to us for intensive marriage retreats have expressed similar frustration. Working on a marriage relationship deserves the luxury of time, space, and focus. It should not be rushed. In order to get to the heart of the matter, to really dig into an individual or couple’s truths, enough time to really explore must be available, or progress is painfully slow.

Having 2-4 hour time blocks over the course of three days is an incredibly satisfying and empowering experience. It gives the four of us the necessary time to address deeper-lying issues and possible solutions. Time between sessions allows for personal processing and specific customized homework to be completed. This is an important part of our process.

“I never would have believed that after three short days I would be willing to make such a huge effort in my marriage again. We both think you are miracle workers!!” — Tricia

Marriage counseling, like much of life, is a process of change. We work together to explore your marital problems, examine existing patterns of defensiveness, and explain why you each get triggered. The four of us set goals for the desired changes and teach you ways to reach those goals. Sometimes clients choose to work on one or two specific problems that they would like to solve, and sometimes they want to change the entire atmosphere of their marriage. Often there are long-standing issues that are causing current problems. We are there to act as facilitators and guides, helping you to reach your goals.

Whether your marriage is on the rocks and falling apart, or in need of a tune up, our intensive marriage retreat can help give you new tools for dealing with the issues that seem unbearable and irresolvable. Over the three-day couple’s retreat the two of us, meeting with you privately, teach the two of you a new set of communication skills specifically designed to enhance your relationship. We then have you practice those skills with each other in our sessions, and as a part of your evening’s homework. We look for your personal-relationship challenges, and teach you ways to deal with them specifically. We help you to take things less personally, and learn to respectfully stand on your own two feet, which in turn strengthens the relationship and even reduces personal anxiety and depressed feelings.

Your typical schedule is:

Day 1

  • Preparation: Upon confirmation of your sign-up we will send you a questionnaire to begin your preparation process.
  • Arrive in Vermont the day before we start out and settle into the accommodations of your choice. Some couples come in two days prior. Travel, hotel, and meals are not included in our fee. See our suggested accommodations.
  • Meet with Israel and Cathie at their homestead at 10AM on Day 1. We begin by talking about marriage: what are the components of a happy marriage, what are the common challenges, how does sex fit into a healthy marriage, etc. Then we take a detailed history on each of you: about your family of origin, your cultural and religious influences, your current family situation, as well the roots of your romantic involvement with each other. We then switch gears and begin various tutorials and behavioral exercises focused on your specific needs. While you practice with each other and we coach you through your new skills.
  • After the session you will be practicing the communications skills you are learning, talking to each other on a new deeper level about how your relationship began and grew (or did not grow), about your hopes and dreams for your self and for your relationship together, your regrets and sorrows, and where you see things going. In addition we suggest things to do together… and hope that you can have some fun and relaxation after the day’s intensive session.

Day 2

  • Meet again on Day 2 for several hours. This session tends to pull it all together, dealing with the deeper issues that need to be addressed. Experienced in couples therapy work, we guide you safely through those areas which have been too hot to handle in the past. When you leave on Day 2, again we give you suggestions of ways to re-connect and take your relationship to a healthier more intimate place (or sometimes to lovingly disconnect and begin to separate more).

Day 3

  • We will review the previous sessions and tie together any loose ends. We will discuss your progress, and have you continue working on your specific issues while you practice your new communication skills. We will create a plan with you that includes recommendations for each of you as individuals, as well as for the two of you. That may include some book suggestions or Neurofeedback/Biofeedback as well as how to keep your connection alive. We wrap up by noon. You can return home or enjoy an extra day or two in scenic Vermont.

After Care

  • When you return home we are available for brief questions on the communication work and other lessons you have learned, as well as on our specific recommendations for the two of you. Learn about AfterCare Options.

Couple-to-Couple Counseling

We only do couple-to-couple marriage retreats where you get the full attention of two trained marriage and sex therapists, in contrast with marriage encounters, workshops, seminars, and conferences where you are either listening to a lecture or meeting with a number of other couples. We analyze your specific problems without the distraction of others sharing the time and we find that every couple’s situation is different, requiring specific individual evaluation and counseling.

We work together as a husband and wife team in our couple to couple retreats. This style of marriage counseling is very effective for many reasons; there is a balance of male-female energy, the benefit of two therapists’ insights, knowledge, and participation, and the role modeling of a healthy caring relationship in which there are healthy disagreements. Traditional marriage counseling often separates the couple. Either they are seen one at a time by the same therapist or they seek out two different counselors. Often couples will say that they felt ganged up upon by their therapist and spouse. That does not happen with us.

Working together in an intensive couple’s retreat, we’ve found that many couples stay together, where in the traditional analytical process separation and divorce often occur. While the four of us spend most of our time together in couple-to-couple sessions, we can spend some time female-female and male-male as needed. Our time together is somewhat flexible; therefore, we can tailor it to your needs and wants. We get a great deal of work done in a relatively short period of time because we learn just how much to push each of you for your optimal growth. The process is deep, meaningful, and intense.

A recent couple described the Marriage Quest process in their own words:

“Several summers ago, things had reached such a low point in our marriage that it was impossible to maintain the illusion of well-being a minute longer. We found the Helfands’ “marriage quest” weekend on the internet and decided it would be an efficient way of tackling our issues. “Upon our arrival, I immediately felt at home with Cathie & Israel. Their warm and welcoming presence, combined with a strong sense of professionalism let me know right away that we had made a good decision. Next, Israel impressed me with his no-nonsense approach to our case. He hit on what I felt were key issues relating to the personalities involved in less than 2 minutes flat: clearly, we were not going to waste our time here! “Throughout the weekend, the Helfands employed a variety of approaches and techniques: they spoke to us separately and together, inside their comfortable sitting room and outside in the garden, they educated us, they asked us to make lists, to do role-plays, and of course we also conversed freely. At every step of the way, their competence was matched by their high level of compassion. Emotionally-charged topics were handled with great sensitivity, but they were tackled head-on and in a way that allowed for healing. “We left the weekend with a ‘game plan’ which we played out to the best of our respective abilities. In the end, we both felt stronger and better equipped to go on to a healthier, happier life-which is what we have done.”

Elizabeth

Click to see more Letters and Testimonials we have received.

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We’ll be pleased to answer your questions, and provide information on available dates and pricing. In case we are busy counseling another couple at the moment, leave a message and we will return your call promptly.