Heart and Meaning Psychotherapy & Coaching
Sasha Raskin, PhD Candidate, LPC. Couples and Family Therapy & Coaching Online & in Boulder, CO
Have you recently looked at your partner and thought to yourself, wow, I really can’t believe that this is what our relationship became?
If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Truth to be told I have been there as well. I was having the same kind of arguments, and the same kind of problems in my romantic relationships, until I went through couples therapy and couples intensive myself. During which it really hit me… I was never taught ANYTHING about creating and maintaining deep and loving romantic relationships. So how would I know how to do it?
I get it. You are stuck. There is so much going on right now in your relationship, and you fear that you and your partner may be coming dangerously close to the end of your ropes. You are really worried about the state of your relationship and the strain that it is having on your family. You do not want to give up on your relationship, and so, you and your partner have been thinking about going in for couples therapy, but you are afraid that at this stage of unrest in your relationship, going through several months of couples therapy once a week might just be too slow for you. Not to mention the fact that you are also really busy as is almost everyone today and having to go through the task of navigating scheduling every week for a single session is just really difficult. You want a solution that would not only work fast but would also be very effective in helping you work through the issues that are plaguing your relationship. You want to get past the turbulence and just get back to being the loving, caring couple that you once were.
I am pleased to inform you that you do not have to look too hard or too far for a suitable solution to your relationship troubles. One great solution is a weekend couples intensive retreat. A couples intensive retreat (sometimes also known as a couples getaway) is a holiday-like trip that employ combining the bliss of holidaying with the effectiveness of couples counseling. On this trip, you will have no need to think of anything at all other than relaxing and working on making your relationship better. This means no responsibilities, no children, no work. You would be completely out of your normal everyday routine and environment, and you would be able to put aside the stress, hustle, and chaos of the outside world in order to fully and successfully focus on yourself, your partner and your relationship. This is what the couples intensive retreat is all about, taking you out of your normal everyday life and environment so as to help you relax and be able to pinpoint your problems as well as actively work on finding feasible solutions for them. It is an intense period where we do together deep work for 10 hours, over the course of 3 days.
Before we go into details about the couples intensive retreat, allow me to point out a few facts. A couples therapy retreat is not strictly for married couples. While it does involve intense marriage counseling for married couples, it is not restricted to married couples. As a matter of fact, it is open to all couples who love each other, are committed to each other, are committed to their relationship and are willing to put in the work that it would require to make it work. It is also important to also note that this couples retreat is not only open to couples who are having a hard time in their relationship. Couples retreats are also very beneficial to couples who already have a good relationship but do not want to take it for granted, but want to make sure that their relationships grow and get better.
While couples therapy retreats are meant to help couples heal and enhance the quality of their relationships, it is not a form of therapy for couples who are suffering any form of abuse, whether it is physical, psychological or emotional.
This couples therapy retreat is an accelerated program that will take you on a journey of self and mutual discovery. This journey of discovery is necessary in order to help you to truly understand the core of the problems in your relationship. We will also work on resolving the relationship problems in real time in couples therapy during the weekend.
While participating in couples therapy, you will learn and practice the art of communicating in brand new ways and supporting each other even during conflicts. During your couples therapy retreat, you will learn to rekindle the spark that brought you together. For a full weekend, you will focus just on yourselves, each other, and your relationship. You will consciously leave behind every other thing that would distract you from the goal and the aim of this weekend.
One of the biggest secrets about couples therapy and about couples intensives, is that while it’s definitely about the relationship and the couple, you will also do an immense individual work on yourself, and gain incredible insights about how you, as an individual are able to navigate through life: What are some of the blockages in your life that stop you from getting your needs met and living the kind of life that you want. During your couples retreat, you will also learn new things about yourself and your partner that could be a contributing factor to the problems that you are having in your relationships. You would also learn how to work on and overcome any negative effects that your childhood experiences may have on your relationship.
During and after the couples retreat you will effectively reduce the conflicts in your relationships and increase friendship that you already have. You will gain new useful information, and acquire new skills that would help you in your relationship, by using the momentum that is created within a couples retreat. Over the course of this weekend, we will do activities that would help to strengthen the bond in your relationship, and that you can take with you. We will identify what your strengths are, both as a couple and as individuals. This discovery would help to create the basis for building higher levels of emotional awareness between you and your partner. The research-based exercises you will be doing during the couples therapy intensive are designed to help you and your partner to identify areas in yourselves and your relationship where you have had misconceptions and will also help you to change the negative behaviors of self-defeat in order to help improve the level of communication, help you to forgive each other and help you to rebuild your relationship into one that is loving.
Couples retreat therapy is a fantastic way to bring back that spark and life into your relationship, and even more, it is an incredible opportunity to make your relationship even stronger and more loving than it ever was. It gives you a fabulous chance to rekindle the dying embers of the romance and spontaneity that is lacking from your relationship. It takes you away from all that you know and are used to and places you in a neutral atmosphere where you have the opportunity and the lack of distractions to truly look inwards and focus more on yourself, your partner and your relationship. This couples intense retreat is not a one size fits all therapy; it is one that would be tailored to suit the specific needs of you and your partner.
Your intensive couples counseling would be taking place in the gorgeous town Boulder, in Colorado. The flexible structure of the couples intensive will allow you to spend some fun time in one of the most beautiful places in the US while you work on making your relationship deeper. This retreat will have many opportunities for you and your partner to open up to each other and see each other from a different set of eyes, inside the couples therapy office, and outside of it. These opportunities may include exercises, role play, discussions, tasks, education, and also unstructured time. This is an incredible way to recharge and to create the relationship you want when you relaxed. For example, when was the last time you slept without an alarm clock? I can guess it’s been a while… The couples therapy retreat’s kind of environment allows you to be resourced to explore the deepest parts of your relationship. So it is important to understand, that since this retreat is focused on healing your relationship, you can rest assured that you would have ample time to enjoy other benefits that come with having a getaway trip.
When you first consider undertaking this couples intensive retreat, there are some procedures that would have to be followed in order to make sure that it is a good fit for you. During our initial consultation call, I will gather the necessary information that I need to understand your relationship and your challenges, and the possible solutions that are suitable for you and your partner. That call, previous the retreat, the questionnaire that will be sent to you after you sign up, and of course the 3-day weekend couples retreat itself, are all essential parts of a structured schedule to follow in order to achieve your relationship goals.
Prior to the couples counseling retreat, we will have an initial free phone/video call consultation. Here we would get to talk, and I will get to know you and your partner over the phone. This phone consultation is one where you will get to ask all the questions you need to ask (it might be useful to read the FAQ as well). You will get clarity about what the couples retreat entails, you would get to put your fears to rest, get the reassurance that you need, and most importantly we could make sure that the couples intensive retreat is a good fit for you and your partner. This will also serve as a guide to help you identify what you hope to achieve from the couples therapy intensive and help you set your feasible and realistic goals that we would work towards reaching over this weekend.
Preparation: Before we meet for the couples retreat itself, each partner would have to go through the process of completing a very extensive online relationship questionnaire. The relationship checkup is based on over 40 years of research. I take my work very seriously, and this is why the work you will be doing is based on evidence-based couples therapy modalities such Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, Gottman Couples Therapy, PAC, Solution Focused Therapy, Brief Family Therapy, and more, combined and synthesized to create the most efficient work for you both to get your needs met in your relationship. Your responses to the relationship questionnaire are necessary since it will provide me with more than 60 pages of crucial relevant information that will enable me to have a clearer picture of your relationship in totality. This way, over the course of the weekend, we will effectively work on the issues that you experience in YOUR relationship. This would also help me to decipher which possible solution options or combinations of solutions would be most suitable for you and your partner, considering the intricacies of your relationship as well as your individualities.
First day: 4 hours. During the first day, you would get to settle into your environment and get comfortable enough before the main work begins. On this day, introductions would be made; we will get to know each other and get comfortable around each other. We would also get start opening up more. We will explore your relationship (past, present and your hopes for the future) in detail, and you will experiment with new ways of interacting with each other.
Second day: 3 hours. This is when the real work of the weekend begins. On this second day, we will dive into what truly works and what does not work in your relationship. We will discuss deeply, directly, and intently the inner workings of your relationship. This discussion would be mainly based on what I learned from the results of the online relationship questionnaire you filled out and from the conversations that we had on the first day. We will explore all of these intricacies, discuss the things that are not working, point out ways of improving on these workings and will do experiential work to manifest new ways of interaction which you will begin to practice effectively.
Third day: 3 hours. As we prepare to wrap up our weekend, we will continue to go even deeper into the work. We will continue to dissect the problems that linger and continue to find adequate solutions that will match them. We will also continue with the experiential work of the second day, and together with practicing of the agreed upon new methods of communication. We will also work on further solutions to the other highlighted problems, deepen the emotional bond between you, make sure that everyone feels heard and respected, as well as prepare to integrate it into your daily lives after the couples intensive. Leaving the couples intensive, you will with strategies and tools that feel good to YOU, and that you already saw that work. These tools will enable you to effectively practice these solutions after the couples intensive, even, and especially within all of the distractions and chaos of your everyday lives. These strategies will enable you to continue to live with these practices long after the effect of this weekend has worn off.
To continue to enjoy the benefits that you have received from the couples therapy retreat, to deepen the work, examine what works and what works less as you go back to your busy lives, you might want to schedule a few follow up calls. We will talk about this option at the end of the couples retreat.
As mentioned earlier, the couples retreat is not designed only for couples that are having issues in their relationships; it is designed for couples who want to make their relationships stronger. That being said, when exactly is the best time to consider undertaking this retreat therapy? Simple, it’s right now. Do not delay this work, since a strong and loving romantic relationship, according to research (and personal experience) is the biggest contributor to personal happiness. Some couples may choose to take it as a preventive measure. For them, it could be a first option to making sure that their relationship does not begin to go on a downward decline and that it continues to grow stronger. For some other couples, it could be a solution to a problem that has just begun to rear its ugly head in the relationship. They may decide to find a quick solution rather than allow this problem to fester and grow, thereby leading to a series of other problems. For yet another set of couples, it could be a last resort. They could very well be on the very brink of a separation or even divorce, and at that point, they may decide to try one last option at saving their relationship before they decide if they want to throw in the towel or not. Some couples may not even believe fully that couples therapy might work, and may just decide to undertake it in order to know that they exhausted every possible option available in trying to make their relationship work. If you are reading this, whatever the situation or the case may be, the best possible time to do a couples therapy retreat is now.
While couples therapy retreat and couples therapy sound like the same thing, they are different in a few ways. The main difference between these methods is the time factor. Where a couples intense retreat lasts for just a weekend, since conventional couples therapy happens only once a week, it could actually take up to a few months before any big progress is made or seen. With couples therapy, you would have to be ready to dedicate an hour of your time once a week, every week for an unspecified number of months. In some cases, especially when due to different schedules, it could take up to six months before any form of progress is made. This can be very tiring, especially when your relationship is on the brink of collapse, and you are eager to get it back together. Couples therapy is also carried out in the midst of your busy lives, and more often than not before or after a long day of work. Now, even when done just once a week, couples therapy works, and there is ample proof to that in modern research. Couples retreats, can expedite the process, and get to the core issues in three days versus three months. To be clear, it takes a lot of work to establish new habits, so these 3 days are not a magic solution to your problems. The best of both worlds is sometimes start from a deep couples intensive and then continue with consistent follow up sessions (which can be done long distance via video calls).Packed in 3 intense sessions over one weekend you will basically get accelerated 3 months of one hour weekly sessions crammed into one weekend, where you just work continuously, without the need to “settle in” to the session each week. While both methods of couples therapy are effective, the time factor and the different methods employed in these therapy sessions are what set them apart.
Couples retreat therapy can take either a private form or a group form. Many couples want their privacy and so would rather have a weekend alone with their therapist where they can get to open up, share their feelings, explore their problems, look for solutions and allow themselves put in the work that is required to reach their goals that weekend. Some other couples, however, would want to have a group experience so as not to feel alone. In this case, there can be groups that range from as little as 5 – 10 couples to groups as large as 30 – 50 couples in one-weekend session. In my work I prefer to set a side a full weekend and dedicate it completely to one couple, so you will get ALL the attention you need. Think about it as studying in a large classroom versus having a private tutor.
I am passionate about my work with couples since it can be both the most challenging part of our lives, but also the most rewarding. It can feel incredible to be in the world, knowing that you are always someone's number one priority. Couples therapy, whether it’s done in weekly sessions or as couples intensive is also an incredible opportunity for yourselves as individuals to heal your past wounds from childhood, even more than in individual therapy. You can read more about my work as a couples therapist here.
1. How much does it cost?
I understand the need to know the numbers ahead of time, but the truth is that it depends. During our initial call we will discuss the fee for your specific couples intensive that fits exactly where you currently are in your relationship. It might be shorter or longer than 10 hours, based on logistics and what would be most effective at this stage.
That being said, it’s important to remember that paying for a couples intensive is not spending money, but investing money. It’s true that the fee you will invest can be invested elsewhere. Let’s say you could get a new car, and the monthly payment will allow you a nicer commute. But what happens when that new car brings you back from work to a home where you don’t feel happy, heard or loved as much as you would like to be? What if your fights have a big impact on your children, if you have children? How much being loved, respected, and cared for is worth to you? That is the important question to ask when you are trying to figure how much you are willing to pay for a couples retreat.
2. Does couple therapy and couples retreats work?
Yes! I’ve seen that again and again in my work with couples, as well as for myself as a someone who has been and is in couples therapy and did a couples retreat in the past, and of course, there is an infinite amount of research that supports that.
3. Will it work for us?
Great question. Ask yourself, do you really want to stay together? Are you motivated to try new ways of interacting with each other? These are the main factors that indicate success. The truth is, that couples retreats are not for everyone. This is why it is important for us to have our initial conversation over the phone. I want to make sure that a couples intensive will be helpful for your relationship at this stage. It will definitely not be helpful if there is an ongoing affair or domestic violence currently happening in your relationship, and that is the case, I will not be able to work with you at this time. If neither of these things is currently happening simply go ahead and schedule a free phone consultation as your next step.
4. Is this the right time? Maybe I should wait?
The best time is right now. If you are reading this, most likely there are some good reasons for doing so. If your relationship did not need work you would not be here reading this. The longer couples continue to engage in unhelpful communication and behavior patterns without changing them, it just gets worse. It is your responsibility to make your relationship stronger before it is too late.
5. What if couples therapy will be too difficult?
My job is to guide you through this process gradually. My goal is not to overwhelm you or make you feel pressured. I am not here to take anyone’s side. I am here to do whatever is in my power to help you get your needs met by each other. It is a deep work, and it feels incredibly good to finally have those healing experiences during the couples intensive that you have been craving for, for so long.
All you need to do now, is simply schedule a phone consultation, and we can take it from there!
To better help the couples I work with, I was trained in the major modalities of couples therapy, with the best authorities in the field:
Gottman Couples Therapy
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
Solution Focused Therapy
Brief Strategic Therapy
Sasha Raskin with Drs. John and Julie Gottman
Start the change now.
Contact me to schedule a 20 minutes free consult!