When we are hurting or disconnected in our relationships, it impacts our lives tremendously. You are ready to make change and I know I can be helpful.

The most common questions couples have are addressed in the ‘FAQS’ below. Please look these over and reach out if you need more information or are interested in booking a Private Couples Retreat or Therapy Intensive.


Do you do weekly couples counseling?

Not at first. When I meet with a new couple, I want them to have a jump start on their treatment. Due to that, all couples initially go through a private couples retreat or therapy intensive with me.

I think they are much more effective than traditional therapy and I consistently get great results with my couples.

Once a couple completes a multi-day therapy intensive with me, then we may meet in the traditional format of weekly, bi-weekly, or as-needed sessions.

What is a Private Couples Retreat or Therapy Intensive?

It’s the only way I am currently treating couples.

Although I am a therapist and have over 20 years working with couples, I view myself as a Relationship Coach.

Instead of a weekly hour with couples like a traditional therapist does, I work with couples intensively from as little as 4 hours to over 4 days and focus on teaching concrete skills/tools so couples can communicate and connect better.

If you are interested, then read more about my private couples retreats or therapy intensives.

How long are Private Couples Retreats or Intensives?

There are two options:

Basic Private Couples Retreat and Intensive

Three days: This option is a good fit for couples wanting to learn how to connect and communicate more effectively. Using structured conversations, you apply the tools and address issues/topics that are relevant in your relationship.

Specialized Private Couples Retreat and Intensive

Four days: This option allows for couples with many concerns to have the space and time to work through various topics. Additional topics may be addressed, such as ‘Sexual Intimacy’ or a ‘Relationship Betrayal’ or you may use the space and time to strengthen your skills and learn additional communication tools. You are able to do more work, feel a deeper connection and leave with more confidence.

Any Retreat or Intensive can be three or four days with the exception of the Affair Recovery & Betrayal Repair Intensive. Due to the complexity of hurt involved, the Affair and Betrayal Intensive must be four days.

What is the cost?

Retreats and Intensives cost as follows:

  • The Basic 3-day Private Couples Retreat or Intensive is $6950.
  • The Specialized 4-day Private Couples Retreat or Intensive is $8950.

I encourage you to consider this investment against the reality of other options:

Weekly couples therapy at $300 hourly for 9 months = $9,600

Average cost for a divorce in Massachusetts = $12,000

Cost of time away from children and your partner = Priceless

How many couples attend?

Just you. I work with only one couple at a time; you have my complete attention, time, and focus.

Where do we have our Private Couples Retreat or Intensive?

I offer three different location options:

  • Online
  • My Place
  • Your Choice

Learn about the different Retreat locations here.

What is the itinerary for a Couples Therapy Intensive?

This description below is a general overview. If there has been an affair or betrayal, the itinerary addresses those needs differently.

All Retreats/Intensives include Individual Sessions prior and a Follow-up email and Session after our work together.


Individual sessions (via zoom) with each of you to hear your perspective, learn more about your personal history, and clarify your Retreat/Intensive goals.

DAY ONE: (9 am – 4 pm)

Science Behind Our Relationships

In the AM, you learn the science of relationships and why you get stuck in the same places even though you desperately want to change. Together, we determine your relationship’s unique cycle and you begin to make sense of your partner’s behaviors.

Lunch Break (45 mins)

Our ‘Raw Spots’

In the PM, you learn about more about your partner’s inner world. Through structured conversations, you identify and share ‘raw spots’ that lead to arguments or silence.

DAY TWO: (9 am – 4 pm)

Communicating Differently to Prevent Conflicts

In the AM, you begin to apply what you already learned as we explore how to prevent conflicts through effective connecting and communication.

Lunch Break (45 mins)

Individual Blocks

In the PM, we may have individual sessions if your Retreat Plan includes this. This optional work addresses wounds or stressors that create blocks in your ability to connect.

Learning How to Listen and Ask Questions

Couples often think they need to say things differently, but it’s actually about becoming a better listener. Using actual issues in the relationship, you will practice questioning and listening so your partner will feel more understood.

DAY THREE: (9 am – 4 pm)

Our Past ‘Baggage’

In the AM, a structured conversation helps you identify and learn how to address some of the ‘baggage’ you bring to your current relationship.

Lunch Break (45 mins)

Individual Blocks

In the PM, we may have additional individual sessions if your Retreat Plan includes this or it’s clear this would be helpful to increase the connection in the relationship.

Repairing After an Argument

Using all the tools you have gained so far, you learn a specific strategy to repair and move forward after an argument. Using this strategy is one of the biggest steps towards changing your negative cycle and stopping future arguments.

Addressing Hurts and Forgiving

Depending on your Retreat Plan, this may occur in this afternoon or may be on Day Four. Understand why some topics never get resolved and how to achieve closure on longstanding hurts. Using actual hurts you have, you learn this skill by doing.

Heading Home

If you chose a 3-day Retreat, we wrap up our time by processing what you learned, making a commitment to your relationship, and making final recommendations. You leave with a greater understanding of your partner, relationship, and how to communicate and connect more effectively.

DAY FOUR: (9 am – 4 pm)

Deep-dive Topics

This day allows a deep-dive into the topic(s) that plague your relationship and contribute to disconnection.

Topics vary but often include:

  • Sexual intimacy and physical touch
  • Parenting issues
  • Work-life balance
  • Addressing a partner’s mental or physical illness
  • Shared grief (such as a miscarriage or death)
  • Life decisions
  • Additional hurts experienced during the relationship

Heading Home

Whatever work was done, you will leave with increased confidence in your skills, improved connection, and an action plan to address your deep-dive topic.

What’s the difference between ‘Retreats’ and ‘Intensives’?

Retreats are an opportunity to improve your relationship overall. It’s a time for you to focus on your relationship in a different space that is supportive and nurturing. I function more as a relationship coach and teach you tools to improve your relationship’s connection.

Intensives are retreats that have a therapy component to address significant relationship challenges. It’s intensive, but not overwhelming. Just like an amazing piece of music builds from a simple beginning, these Intensives allow us to go gradually deeper to get to address the issue and an effective solution.

You may not be clear which is the best fit for your needs. Based on the Relationship Assessment, I will be able to make a clear recommendation of what I think would be most helpful for you.

Do we stay overnight?

No, these are daytime only. They generally start at 9 and end at 4, although minor time adjustments can be made.

What do we receive during a Private Couples Retreat or Intensive?
  • My complete attention on you and your relationship from 9-4 daily for three or four days. This is the equivalent of 6 to 8 months’ worth of couples sessions over one long weekend.
  • Resource Workbook that includes exercises and information to support you at home.
  • Relationship Assessment based on an initial online intake and individual sessions that occur during the Retreat.
  • Individual Intensive Sessions (1 to 3 per person) designed to augment our couples work. These sessions specifically address stressors you have individually in your relationship.
  • Structured practice of relationship tools.
  • Beverages and snacks to nurture and sustain you during our time together (if our Retreat/Intensive is at my location).
  • Email summary of tools and strategies you used during our time together.
  • Exclusive access to subsequent relationship coaching with me, based on availability in my schedule.
Does insurance cover this?

Insurance companies support the more conservative treatment approach of hour-long, weekly couples sessions. I am able to bill some portions of the Retreat/Intensive, if you have out-of-network benefits.

One relevant aspect of using your insurance is that the insurance company requires I give a mental health diagnosis and the insurance company will have indefinite access to my notes and your record. When the insurance company is involved, your privacy is not complete, unfortunately.

What are the scheduling options?

I schedule Retreats and Intensives from Thursday through Monday. Generally, four-day Retreats or Intensives are Thursday-Sunday and three day Retreats are generally Friday-Sunday.

Share your scheduling needs with me and I will find something that works. These Retreats and Intensives are all about helping you and your relationship succeed.

What are the steps to enrolling and attending a Retreat or Intensive?

Step One – The Consultation

Contact me to ask questions and set up a video consultation.

During the consultation, we review your relationship’s struggles and the kind of help you are wanting. You will learn more about how I work and if I am the right person or ‘fit’ for you. It’s also my opportunity to assess and make sure I am the best fit for you, from my perspective. I want you to succeed, so we all need to feel confident about our work together.

We discuss the types of Retreats and Intensives, length, and location options, so you have all the information after your consultation.

Step Two – After the Consultation

Most couples spend time thinking about the options and reading the information again. Generally people do not make a decision during the consultation.

If you decide to work with me, we schedule your Retreat/Intensive! A 50% deposit is required at this time and we clarify the type, length and location.

Step Three – Confirmation and Intake

You each receive a confirmation email with the specifics that we have agreed upon. Additionally, you each receive a link to my client portal where you complete necessary paperwork.

Step Four – Relationship Assessment Questionnaire

Once you have accessed the client portal, you complete a confidential “Relationship Questionnaire”. This is the written part of your Relationship Assessment; we will continue the Relationship Assessment during our individual sessions that occur during the Retreat/Intensive.

Step Five – Pre-Retreat Individual Sessions

A few weeks prior to your Retreat, I will contact each of you to schedule our Pre-Retreat individual session. During this session (done over video), we explore your perspective of the relationship, clarify issues you want addressed, and gather individual history. These individual sessions are confidential and focus on you expressing your ‘side of the story’.

Step Six – Final Payment and Details

One week before your Retreat or Intensive, the final payment is due. This is when we tie up any loose ends, such as snacks you would enjoy and any concerns you have.

Step Seven – The Retreat or Intensive

We meet and you begin to see your partner differently within the first few hours! I balance it between lecture, video clips, and guided conversations you have with your partner.

On the second through third or fourth days, you continue to practice and strengthen your relationship skills as you go deeper and address the barriers/struggles to authentic connection.

Step Eight – Follow-up Email

Within a few days of the Retreat or Intensive, you will receive an email summarizing many of the tools you learned. Additionally, I give a list of general relationship tips that are concise and actionable. This email and list help you maintain your gains.

Step Nine – Follow-up Couples Session

Approximately three weeks after your Retreat or Intensive, I will contact you to schedule your follow-up couples session. This session is conducted over video and is designed to reinforce what you are doing well, address questions, teach/review specific skills, and/or create an extended action plan.

Step Ten – Afterwards

Couples are often anxious or even sad to ‘leave the nest’ after their Retreats or Intensives. I want you to succeed and I know it takes time and practice to change relationship patterns that have occurred over years (or even decades).

Once we end our work, you may reach out to me for ‘tune-ups’ or additional work, if warranted (and based on my availability). If we do that, the work will not be traditional couples therapy. I will assist you as a relationship coach–continuing to be very focused on strengthening your skills and improving your relationship at home.

Again, I truly want you to succeed!

How successful are these Retreats and Intensives?

The model used, Emotionally Focused Therapy, has a 90% success rate at reducing distress in couples.

Every couple I have worked with has left in a better place. Most couples move forward on the path of strengthening their connection and enjoying their relationship more.

Even if a couple decides not to continue their relationship, they are able to engage in more productive and compassionate conversations after this. The understanding and communication tools gained make co-parenting and other interactions more effective and less combative.

You may contact me with the form below or call me at 413-218-7926.

I know even starting this process can feel scary and anxiety-inducing. I would love to be helpful, so reach out. 🙂

And…thank you for your faith in me. I truly want you to succeed.

Serving Boston to NYC, all of New England & Online

“Hold Me Tight®” is a registered trademark to Sue Johnson.