Intensive Couples Therapy Retreats 2018-08-20T21:52:08+00:00

Intensive Couples Therapy Retreats (Marathon Marriage Counseling)

When your relationship is in distress, you want a solution that will quickly and effectively make a lasting impact.

Intensive Couples Therapy is a valuable, efficient way to reconnect, heal past hurts, and strengthen your bond as a couple. When you are securely connected as a couple, you can solve any problem more easily.

My Intensive Couples Therapy Retreat option is designed for you to sit down, unplug, and know that you’re receiving the gold standard of professional marriage counseling: Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) and Gottman Method Couples Therapy, two of the most researched and effective couple therapies available.

Held on Lopez Island in the world-class beauty of Washington State’s San Juan Islands, we will move through months of weekly couples therapy in just three days. The retreat format is an ideal choice for people with busy schedules and a relaxing getaway from Bellingham, Seattle, and beyond.

Intensive Couples Therapy is designed for couples who:

  • Desire results quickly
  • Are experiencing significant distress in their relationship
  • May have difficulty attending weekly therapy due to scheduling conflicts or work commitments
  • Desire a high level of privacy during the therapy process

Benefits of Intensive Couples Therapy:

  • Intensive Couples Therapy helps you make progress faster
  • Many couples find it easier to take a few days completely off work than take a few hours each week for traditional sessions
  • Lopez Island is a beautiful and special retreat setting to focus on your relationship
  • Traveling to a counselor can give you greater anonymity during the therapy process, as well as respite from the demands of daily life
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The Science and High Success Rate of EFT

I am certified in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), formulated by Dr. Sue Johnson, which is scientifically proven to be the most effective treatment for distressed couples. In fact, it is twice as effective as the next most successful treatment. EFT often works when other kinds of couples therapy has failed.

Research shows that EFT helps 70-75% of couples recover from high distress to develop a secure connection, and 90% of couples improve. What’s best is that the results are lasting, even for couples at high risk for divorce.

With EFT, I help couples strengthen their bond and heal the underlying reasons for conflict. This takes the fuel away from the fire, so when potential conflict situations arise, couples are able to stay connected and navigate as a team. When we work together in this way, most couples report feeling closer to each other than ever before.

About Gottman Method Couples Therapy

Combining the knowledge and wisdom of nearly forty years of studies and clinical practice, Gottman Method Couples Therapy helps couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection, and intimacy in their relationships. Through research-based interventions and exercises, it is a structured, goal-oriented, scientifically-based therapy. Intervention strategies are based upon empirical data from Dr. Gottman’s study of more than 3,000 couples. This research shows what actually works to help couples achieve a long-term healthy relationship.

With Gottman Method Couples Therapy, I help couples learn and practice the skills that Dr. Gottman’s research has shown leads to long-lasting, happy marriages.

Intensive sessions are scheduled for three days, either Monday through Wednesday or Saturday through Monday, on Lopez Island.

My three-day Intensive is designed to give your relationship a jumpstart toward healing by infusing your relationship with hope and confidence. The Intensive is meant to address and heal some of the core problems and underlying negative communication patterns in your relationship and help you build connection to each other. The first two days of the Intensive are mostly experiential while the third day is focused on implementing practical tools at home.

I recommend you arrive on Lopez the day before the Intensive to settle in and prepare for our time together. Couples leave the Intensive feeling closer and more connected to each other. If you are using a vacation week to come, I highly recommend using the remainder of the week to visit the San Juan Islands. Spending the rest of the week together on vacation allows you to solidify your connection before returning to crazy schedules and the stress of daily life.


Day 1

We start in the morning with a couple’s session to discuss our goals for the Intensive. I gather information from both of you and listen deeply to your experiences. I’ll help you verbalize the difficult feelings you both have, as well as what you really want in your relationship.

Next, each of you will have an individual session with me so I can get to know you better and support you in the couple’s work. While your partner is meeting with me, you can take a break: go downstairs and enjoy a snack from the fabulous Blossom organic grocery, walk across the street to the Farmer’s Market, or grab a cookie and coffee from Holly B’s Bakery.

We’ll have a long lunch break and meet again in the afternoon, when we get to work dismantling the negative patterns and cycles that play out between you. We’ll start bringing more understanding, hope, and connection into your relationship. With my guidance, you’ll have new conversations and experience each other in new and positive ways.

Day 2

We’ll begin the second day with an eye on clarifying, deepening, and practicing the skills we learned on the first day. We’ll meet jointly for the rest of your counseling time that day. By the end of the second day, you will have a new understanding of the underlying patterns that are creating disconnection in your relationship and experience new hope for reconnecting.

Day 3

During the third day we will consolidate the new understanding and growth that you made in the first two days. Most people experience the culmination of all the hard work that we’ve done with excitement and energy. We will also spend a large portion of the day switching gears and preparing to re-enter your life at home. We will cover specific ways that you can stay on track as a couple and how to recover if you get stuck. I will give you a customized summary of our session with a list of points and tips to remember and focus on at home, as well as a plan for future growth in your relationship.

Follow Up

I recommend that all couples schedule a one hour Zoom follow-up meeting to check in two weeks after the Intensive. During that meeting we will discuss how you are doing at home and I will answer any questions that you have and give you pointers if you’re getting stuck. Most couples also want or need additional follow-up support after the check in.

There are two main ways that couples receive additional support:

  1. Scheduling a follow-up “mini Intensive” at some point in the future with Zoom sessions in between, or
  2. Coordinating care with a therapist in a couple’s local area. I am happy to download what we have worked on during the Intensive with a local therapist to make your transition smoother.

What You Can Expect:

By the end of the Intensive, you can expect to feel closer, better understood, and more empowered to work with your partner to get what you want and need. You’ll have clear ways to communicate that bring you closer, and know how to get back on track when you get stuck.

Q: How is your Intensive Couples Therapy Retreat different from other marriage workshops?

A: There are many marriage retreats and workshops that are held in a group format. Intensive Couples Therapy is very different. If your relationship is in significant distress, a group format is not ideal. For the three days that we spend together, you will be the only couple and you will have my full attention. I will give your relationship specific, focused therapy to help you move forward to a new, positive place.

Q: After the Intensive, will we need additional counseling?

A: In most cases, couples will want or need follow-up sessions after the Intensive is complete. Many couples continue working with me via Zoom (similar to Skype) and then schedule a follow-up “mini Intensive.”

Some couples who live at a distance prefer to work with a local therapist after the Intensive is complete. In these cases, I am happy to help couples find a suitable local therapist and will coordinate with him/her to ensure a smooth transition.

Q: Is Intensive Couples Therapy covered by insurance?

A: If your mental health insurance benefits include couples counseling, they will most likely cover a portion of the Intensive. Intensive Couples Therapy is couples counseling. Please contact your insurance company for information on marriage counseling coverage and out-of-network benefits. While I do not bill the insurance company directly, I can provide you with the necessary paperwork to submit the claims for insurance or health savings account reimbursement.

Intensive Couples Therapy

3-Day Intensive (Monday through Wednesday)

  • Free 30 minute pre-session phone call
  • 15-17 hours of marriage counseling
  • A customized summary of the session
  • Take home tools

Cost = $2,800

3-Day Intensive, Weekend Session (Saturday through Monday)

  • Free 30 minute pre-session phone call
  • 15-17 hours of marriage counseling
  • A customized summary of the session
  • Take home tools

Cost = $3,200

Lodging, food, and travel are not included in the rate.

Is It Worth It?

We invest time, energy, and resources in the things that are most important to us. Many people invest years of their lives in school and training to ensure security and success in their careers and financial future. Your marriage and family are the most important assets you have.

Research shows that people who feel securely connected to their partners are:

  • Healthier
  • Happier
  • Have more frequent and satisfying sex
  • Are less “needy”
  • Parent more as a team
  • Find more fulfillment in life
  • Are more successful and happier at work
  • Manage pain, disappointment, and fear better

About Lopez Island

Lopez Island is known as the “friendly” island of the San Juan Islands, and is a destination for outdoor activities such as road cycling, kayaking, beach combing, and day hikes. Most couples who attend an Intensive comment on the enormous value of leaving the stress of work and home life and retreating to the tranquility and beauty of Lopez Island.


There are many options for lodging. We recommend The Edenwild Inn in Lopez Village, just a 5 minute walk from my office. There are also many other options through VRBO and AirB&B. I’m happy to provide other recommendations.


You should plan to drive on the ferry and reserve a spot on the ferry going to Lopez Island. The ferry departs from Anacortes multiple times per day.


Take a seaplane from Lake Union in Seattle to Lopez Island in less than an hour!
Book a flight on Kenmore Air.
There is a free shuttle that will take you from the dock to Lopez Village. You may reserve the shuttle by calling the Lopez Islander Resort at 360-468-2233.



There are multiple dining options with the greatest variety during the summer months. There are also many farm stands around the island that sell local meat, veggies, eggs, fruit, and flowers.

Beautiful images of Lopez Island courtesy of Robert S. Harrison.