Couples Intensive Therapy

Couples intensive therapy presents a unique opportunity for each partner to dig deep into the cycle of conflict that has kept them stuck for years. This helps them take strategic steps to transform their relationship. However, intensive couples therapy is appropriate only for couples in which both partners are ready to put in the effort to make their relationship work.

Intensive Couples Therapy can help couples:

  • elevate their level of conscious partnering
  • undertake honest confrontation of self and expressed curiosity toward the other
  • move through inner blocks and give well-rehearsed projections
  • surrender from the "I'll change when you change" game
  • transcend current narratives about what is possible for "us"
  • grow new emotional muscle
  • create and sustain enhanced emotional, sexual and spiritual intimacy
  • addressing long-standing unresolved issues from beginning, middle to end
  • practice tools for effective conflict
  • grow empathy and
  • learn to manage differences.

Although all of our intensives are tailored to the unique considerations of each couple, we incorporate the main pillars of the Developmental Model of Couples Therapy, which include Differentiation Theory and Attachment Theory. In addition, we incorporate the most recent research on neuroscience, which has provided strong evidence that relationship conflicts have an impact of brain/nervous system function on couples.

This work is powerful and very structured. Each partner will be challenged to go deeper into his or her own growth and development than ever before, in an effort to create collective healing and intimacy. Couples often report having transformational experiences as a result of our time together.

Early on in the intensive, the therapist will identify the couples' developmental stage and and assess possible impasses. This helps frame each partners differences and sources of conflict, which goes on to provide the gold that will help lead the couple into tremendous growth. By pushing the couple, each partner is able to get more clarity about the differences they experience in what they think, feel, wish and desire. The therapist then supports each partner in speaking to the other, and helps guide them through periods of increased vulnerability by showing them how to negotiate conflicts.

Doing this important work with a therapist ensures that each partner begins to grow new emotional muscle. During individual sessions, an opportunity exists for each partner to work through intra-psychic impasses and receive individualized coaching on his or her own developmental challenges. The therapist will circumscribe each individuals contributions to the problems and create a roadmap for developmental growth and change. This is an important piece of the work which focuses on the concept of differentiation.

Our preference is to meet to first meet with both partners for 90 minutes, and move on to more focused one-on-one work with each partner. We then return to a group setting with both spouses present and work together for the majority of the remaining time. This format can change based on the therapists assessment of areas of strength, and identification of areas that are still presenting issues.

Private intensives take place at our Center in downtown Northampton, MA, a quaint and bustling college town with plentiful galleries, restaurants and cultural events.

Read on to find about the even more specialized intensives we offer to couples grappling with issues pertaining to sexual functioning, infidelity or the possibility of separation.

Sex Therapy Intensives

Sex therapy intensives are designed to assess and dissolve barriers to emotional and sexual intimacy. Each intensive puts the focus on the impediments and developmental impasses that keep a couple from enjoying a vibrant and authentic physical connection.  Through explicit discussion between the partners, and direct consultation by the therapist, each couple will be supported in transcending themes of avoidance, shame, blame or uncertainty that inhibit health attachment, desire and passion.

Affair Recovery Intensives

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. We also try to help couples restore emotional and sexual intimacy through the flexing of new emotional muscles. Of special focus is healing around physical intimacy.

There are several options for an Affair Recovery Intensive. Our most popular is the week-long 30-hour Affair Recovery Intensive, but we also offer a 16-hour weekend intensive to couples as well.

Last Shot Marriage Intensive

For couples on the brink of separation, a Last Shot Marriage Intensive is an provides an opportunity to go deeply into the issues in a safe, nurturing environment. Each partner is brought to assess their own contributions to the divide, and explore the cause of any ambivalence about working it out. The therapist is able to provide direct feedback to each partner as to the severity of the marital problems. With express permission from Dr. Doherty, we have been able to adapt his five-session Discernment Therapy model and use this valuable tool within the context of a weekend 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?

Couples Intensive Schedule and Cost

Couples intensives take place over a period of 16 hours, typically over 2 weekday or weekend days. Each intensive is highly customized, based on the clinical issues that each couple is presenting. For a typical intensive, the schedule is from 9-5 on both Saturday and Sunday, with a one hour lunch break each day. 

For couples desiring a Friday night start, it may be possible to meet for 90 minutes, starting no later than 4:00 p.m, at an additional charge. We also offer mini-intensives for couples who might not require as much in-depth work.

Our fee includes the review of a Diagnostic Questionnaire, which both partners must complete prior to the intensive. An initial phone intake is then done with at least one of the partners. If both partners are not available for the phone intake, we require speaking to the other partner prior to booking. We do this in order to gather basic clinical data and rule out any contraindications for this level of intensive couples work. There is no fee for any of the work related to the intake process - we do it in order to determine whether this level of work is or is not appropriate for the couple.

Lodging is not included in our fee, but we can provide hotel recommendations in Northampton and the surrounding area to our out of town clients.

Insurance does not pay towards therapy intensives.

Each intensive is facilitated by either of our Co-Directors, Dr. Donna Gilman or Katherine Waddell, LMFT.

To inquire about open dates and cost, please contact Dr. Gilman by calling (413) 687-7681.