Relationship Intensives with Dr. Donna Gilman

Relationship Intensives are a great way for busy, motivated partners to dig into specific areas of their relationship in an efficient, rewarding way without the effort and scheduling hassle of weekly therapy sessions.

Relationship Intensives get right to the relational goods while still holding traditional therapeutic benefit for partners including increasing communication skills, tackling tough issues that’ve proven difficult to resolve on your own, and bolstering each partner’s confidence as a partner and individual.

Relationship Intensives start in-person at the Couples Center of the Pioneer Valley in beautiful Northampton, Massachusetts on a Sunday of your choosing. Subsequent follow-up sessions can then be held either in-person or online via video chat so that partners traveling from a distance can engage in Relationship Intensives without having to travel to Northampton more than once.

With each Relationship Intensive partners will receive

A FREE consultation call to determine if a Relationship Intensive is the right fit for you!

A customized private retreat.  Week day or weekend intensives are available and can run from 1-3 days in length.  An intensive day typically goes for 8 hours, with an hour for lunch and mini-breaks built in.  However, shorter days are available upon request.  All retreats take place in-person at the Couples Center of the Pioneer Valley during which partners will establish clear goals, learn constructive strategies to meet them, and tackle key focus areas of their relationship that they’d like to work on.

Review of the Diagnostic Questionnaire, which both partners fill out, independent of the other, prior to the start of the intensive.

Most, but not all retreats, will include 90-minute follow-up therapy sessions with flexible scheduling via online video call or in-person at the Couples Center of the Pioneer Valley in Northampton, Ma.  The number and frequency of these follow-up sessions vary based on clinical necessity and fee schedule.

If follow-up sessions are scheduled, motivational emails will be sent over the course of our work together containing relationship exercises to do at home, reading, and relevant materials to keep you on track in between sessions.

Supplemental learning materials will be shared which are relevant to your chosen Relationship Intensive package.

Email support for the duration of our follow-up time together (approx 3-6 months).

A relationship action plan that includes continued areas of growth for future work with another therapist or with me if you choose to continue therapeutic work after our intensive has wrapped.

Common Relationship Intensives Offered

Fighting Fair and Resolving Gridlocked Issues:  How to get out of the "Can't Live with You, Can't Live Without You' Cycle

Many of the couples Dr. Gilman sees for counseling suffer from undeveloped self definition, have low tolerance of differences, are inexperienced with emotional closeness and have trouble negotiating complicated or even contradictory emotions.  She focuses on differentiation theory, attachment theory and the impact of the emotional brain on the body to teach couples how they are using their defenses to avoid feelings of anxiety and shame. 

By working with each person's history, the aim is to help each partner to understand the way that all of these variables, plus hardwired conditioning, play a role in they way they relate and react to one another, both in the bedroom and outside of it.  By learning more adaptive defense strategies and flexing new emotional muscle around vulnerability, truth telling and boundary setting, many of the destructive cycles that create, exacerbate or maintain sexual difficulties, emotional separation and suffering are diminished.  Clients learn to engage in nuanced and productive negotiation by employing new skills for lowered stress discussions.  Partners learn to experience and express emotionally complex desires and feelings and hold space for their partners to do the same, enhancing the vitality in their sexual encounters and emotional connection.  

Enhancing Sexual Intimacy

Dr. Gilman has a passion for working with couples around emotional and sexual functioning and intimacy, incorporating the three main pillars of the Developmental Model,  differentiation theory, attachment theory and neuroscience.  It is her goal to help couples navigate the complex, vulnerable and transformative, terrain of emotional and sexual intimacy issues.  She views emotional and sexual intimacy as different sides of the same coin, and understands that while most adults long for greater connection, few have the emotional muscle necessary to create and sustain intimacy.  She sees her role as helping each partner to more fully self define, including assessing to what degree each partner is living in alignment with his/her/their own values, become more vulnerable in the expression of their wants needs and desires, learn to emotionally accept and manage difference, set and maintain boundaries, identify defenses, lower their reactivity, regulate their anxiety, and choose more adaptive coping strategies in order to face his/her/their own and their partner's feelings.  

Dr. Gilman helps clients address some of the major issues impacting their sexual functioning including sex addiction, infidelity, loss of desire, desire discrepancy, unresolved trauma, body image issues, replication of destructive cycles, questions about sexual identity and sexual orientation, erection and ejaculation issues, fetishism; issues of gender identity; difficulty around orgasm; pain during sex, impact of mood on sexual desire (including side effects of medication), infertility and sex, sexual functioning with chronic pain/illness, sex and physical ability, polyamary, fetishes, cross-dressing and the impact of parenthood, aging or other life transitions on sexual functioning. 

Affair Recovery

Many couples have neither the time or the skills, to process the deep wound that an affair can cause. Sometimes, it may even take several years before one or both members of the couple are ready to address what went wrong. Couples dealing with the aftermath of an affair, whether the reveal occurred a month ago or five years ago, can benefit from focused treatment, which explores the underlying issues in the relationship and the individual developmental stalemates that led to the infidelity.

Focal points include re-establishment of trust based on the acquisition of insight to each others needs.  Dr. Gilman helps couples restore emotional and sexual intimacy through the flexing of new emotional muscles. Of special focus is healing around physical intimacy.

Last Shot Marriage Intensive/Discernment Counseling

For couples on the brink of separation, a Last Shot Marriage Intensive is an opportunity to go deeply into the issues in a safe, nurturing environment. Each partner is encouraged to assess their own contributions to the divide, and explore the cause of any ambivalence about working it out. Dr. Gilman provides direct feedback to each partner as to the severity of the marital problems. With express permission from Dr. Doherty, Dr. Gilman has been able to adapt his five-session Discernment Therapy model and use this valuable tool within the context of a private intensive. Using the wisdom of the model, partners will be challenged to seek answers to the following questions:

Is the greater part of me willing to stay and work hard on this relationship?
Do I still want my partner?
Even if I don't want my partner, is there a part of me that wants to want my partner again?
Do I have a comprehensive narrative about what went wrong in the relationship?
Am I clear on my own pieces of the puzzle?
What's at risk if I go or if I stay?

For couples who choose to do time-limited couples therapy after successful completion of discernment counseling, Dr. Gilman will create a comprehensive follow-up treatment plan. If, by the end of discernment counseling, a partner or both partners have come to the decision to separate, a plan for next steps will be laid out.

Trauma Resolution Intensives

For couples in which one or both partners are survivors of trauma and the impact of trauma in the relationship causes significant impairment in the areas of emotional or sexual intimacy, Dr. Gilman brings extensive clinical experience as well as training in several energy psychology modalities (including Emotional Freedom Technique, Emotional Trauma Release, Progressive Counting, Somato-Emotional Release, Psychodrama, clinical hypnosis and Gestalt work) to transform and release trauma.  Couples will learn how to transcend and integrate trauma in order to begin to create and sustain greater passion and viatality.

Customized Intensives

Couples presenting with a complexity of clinical issues and needs will benefit greatly from a customized intensive.  Dr. Gilman will be transparent in her conceptualization and framing of the issues in the relationship as she tailors a customized private intensive to meet the specific needs of the couple.

Relationship Intensive Schedule

Each relationship intensive is customized based on clinical issues, learning styles and any special accommodations. 

Relationship Intensives usually consist of one to three 8 hour blocks of your choice from 9am-5pm including a 1 hour lunch break and mini-breaks during the second half. They can also be scheduled in shorter durations, such as Mini Kick-Start Intensives, which are generally at least four hours in length, and individually tailored to the needs of the couple. 

Once the intensives is over, in general, follow up sessions scheduled in 90-minute increments, to be held either in person at the Couples Center of the Pioneer Valley or online via video call, are warranted.

Relationship Intensive Fees & Payment

Please contact Dr. Gilman to discuss fee structure.

**No insurances are accepted**

  • Payments can be made through the Couples Center of the Pioneer Valley via cash, check, or credit card.  A deposit of half the cost of the intensive is due at the time of booking.