Since 2015 I’ve been doing couples intensive retreats, with one couple at a time. This two day relationship fix is to help couples in a focused way to get back on track and to help with any big decisions you need to make. It consists of 17 hours of couples therapy, private, just for you and your partner.
From the time I announced I was doing couples intensive retreats, I’ve received lots of inquiries from interested people, including other therapists, all wanting more information about my couples intensives. In fact, many of my clients are therapists themselves, choosing to do their couples work in this intensive format. I seem to have become the therapists’ therapist because I’ve been counselling for decades.
My expansion into doing couples intensives has led to some great feedback from the couples who’ve done them – see samples below. So I want to explain why I started to work more in this way and to help you get a feel for what happens in a couples intensive. It’s a two day relationship fix that covers a lot of ground.
Since 1981 I’ve been counselling people
And I’ve noticed a curious pattern. Many people raise their really important issues and questions only in the last few minutes of a session! It’s like they need to “get up the courage” during the session to bring up big issues. Unfortunately by then, there’s no time to deal with these issues. Usually another client is waiting, so I must finish their session.
This is frustrating for them and for me, because we have to wait until the following session to explore their issues in more detail. That means they often had to put their issues on hold until we could schedule the next appointment. You can see how frustrating that was for them, especially if something urgent was at stake.
Not only that, it was also distressing for me because many people had just started to connect with difficult feelings, like sexual issues between them, as we got closer to the end of the session, which left insufficient time for deeper exploration or adequate closure. Some people left sessions feeling exposed and incomplete.
This meant that people had to shelve their intense reactions to be able to get on with their normal lives.
Their next sessions were also frustrating because it felt like we were starting from square one. It took a while for them to “settle in” to the session, for us to catch up with all that had happened in between and then begin to delve deeper into the issues that had come up at the end of the last session. Sometimes we never got back to those because other issues had come up! Life doesn’t stand still.
My typical 90 minute couple therapy format has another inhibiting factor. A number of sessions are needed to fully comprehend your unique relationship. Couples need time to tell their story and I need time to “get” each partner’s valid perspective. So it can be difficult to guide them in deciding what help they need, which issues to work on or how change their interactions.
There is a sad truth that couples who are in crisis or on the verge of separating often can’t wait weeks or months to get relief from their intense problems. Nor can they wait to get a sense of hope about their relationship. There had to be a better way.
That’s why I began to do two day intensives, one couple at a time.
So, since 2015 I’ve been working with couples who fly to Sydney from all over Australia to spend two full days with me. We do the intensives either in Faulconbridge (mid Blue Mountains), or in Camperdown in the Sydney CBD where I rent an suite. Their ages range between early 30’s to 70’s. They come from all walks of life and have a big variety of experiences. Their problems are all unique, but usually are difficult and long-term. They feel stuck and generally hopeless.
It’s a satisfying privilege to have a whole two days to deeply explore and help these couples work through their issues.
Two days means having time to really join with each couple, find out about their disappointments, frustrations, pain, fears and to hear about the problematic ways of relating that got them to this stuck place. It allows space to help them sincerely share emotions, discover hidden strengths and resources, put into words their dreams and hopes for the future, develop empathy and understanding for each other, and witness the breakthroughs. It also helps them address sexual issues in a safe environment. In this process I teach many concrete, easy-to-apply relationship skills, and develop a tailor-made, written plan to help them hold on to the hope and new discoveries that emerged during our intensive week-end.
Couples say that the two day format let them achieve more than months of therapy would have done! The two days are usually over a week end, but alternative dates can be negotiated.
Here’s some feedback I’ve received from a few participants of my intensives.
I have their permission to share it with you:
- “Every couple in a long term relationship or marriage would benefit from some time with Vivian”.
- “Vivian is an absolute professional, yet she had great empathy for both me and my husband as well as us as a relationship”.
- “I found the explanations & structured process helpful in giving me the skills to work through rebuilding our relationship…thank you Vivian for your understanding & compassion during our intensive. This made me feel very safe & comfortable working through each process.
- “Vivian was able to help us move through a lot of difficult subjects by guiding us & knowing when to let us voice our thoughts. We could not have had such a positive experience without Vivian’s coaching. I am leaving feeling better than I had ever thought possible after 2 days of counselling…I feel very blessed to have been fortunate enough to spend 2 days with you Vivian. Thank you for giving us the tools we desperately need to be able to begin to rebuild our relationship. I am committed to putting in 100% effort to get us back to better than before.”
- “The experience has left me with a hope that we can move forward and have a great relationship and start afresh with Marriage No. 2! I was really ambivalent in the beginning and especially prior to the weekend intensive retreat, however my experience with Vivian has left me happy and hopeful and with a set of communication skills to improve our marriage”.
- “Vivian was interested in what my partner and I both wanted to achieve. I felt I could trust her. She was very gentle with our feelings”.
- “We were given exercises that assisted us to feel safe to communicate truthfully with each other knowing that Vivian would be assisting us to ‘hear’ what the other said. This got us closer to understanding the other’s viewpoint. Also very useful was being greatly assisted to formulate a plan.”
- “The experience was very enlightening and valuable. I learnt a lot about myself and my partner and how we need to move forward. Vivian was very professional and helpful.”
- “I felt very comfortable in Vivian’s presence and cared for when things got very emotional.”
- “I appreciated the professionalism and the great use of time. Vivian was well-organised and very knowledgeable, all done in calm, peaceful surroundings.”
This sort of feedback is very precious to me. It confirms that even though situations may feel hopeless, they can be worked through in satisfying ways for both people in a couple.
Prior to the intensives, couples often strongly clash about how much life or hope there is in their relationship and even in what they want from the intensive. It’s not unusual for one partner to want the relationship to work and the other to clearly want out. So…
Couples Intensive Retreats can help couples decide between three alternatives:
First: and this is the most frequent outcome, big steps forward occur where the partner who wants out chooses to recommit to their relationship. They decide to stay and co-create a new relationship with their partner.
Second: if ambivalent partners aren’t prepared to reinvest in their relationship for the long-haul, they commit to giving the relationship a second try for a contracted period of time, like 3 to 6 months. They agree that during that time, all talk of separation is off the table. They leave the intensive with a detailed and concrete plan, as well as a commitment to review their progress at the end of that 3 or 6 month period.
Third: there is a small minority who decide to separate. Both partners view the intensive as a priceless experience because it laid the foundation for emotionally moving on, harmoniously co-parenting and maintaining a friendship. A conscious uncoupling can be negotiated and a clear contract made.
After they return home, we often do follow-up work over the phone, Skype or in person. Especially if there are deep, long-standing issues.
Fellow therapists have asked me, “Don’t you feel burnt-out after two days with one couple?” So far, my answer has been: “Very rarely! I feel truly inspired and humbled. It’s such a privilege to be allowed this type of access into a couple’s relationship and to be able to help them in such deep and meaningful ways.”
Is your relationship in need of an overhaul?
Are you stuck in a rut or feeling desperate to get out? Do you want to sort out something quickly instead of doing weeks or months of counselling? If so, a couples intensive may be just the thing for you. Do this free relationship happiness quiz to assess the state of your relationship.
Call me on me on +61 421 961 687 or email me. I have three ways I can help you and your relationship, by:
1) regular in-person sessions
2) online couples coaching, if you can’t make it to my Faulconbridge practice
3) attending a two day couples intensive, where you get 17 hours of couples coaching to quickly boost your relationship happiness.
If you’re after a two day relationship fix for your relationship, you may need an experienced relationship counsellor & coach. Call 0421 961 687 or email us to schedule an appointment. International callers should call +61 2 8005 1742.
You deserve the best trained relationship coaches if you’re planning to invest time and money in your relationship. If you’re not ready to book an appointment, call us on 0421 961 687 to book a FREE 10 minute phone consultation to discuss how we may be able to assist you.