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About the Gottman Private Couples' Retreats on Orcas Island

Turtleback Mountain Sound

Private Marathon Couples' Therapy with Drs. Julie and/or John Gottman

We are now offering Marathon Couples' Therapy at our home on Orcas Island, with either one of us or with both of us together. Because of our remote location, this treatment serves the needs of those clients who desire complete privacy. Orcas Island is served by ferries running frequently everyday, and also by daily air travel.

Marathon Couples' Therapy is a specific type of therapy that is short-term and intensive. Its purpose is to help resolve your current crisis or a specific issue in the relationship. It is not meant as an on-going, long-term couples' therapy. Because time is limited, it does not include a full relationship assessment nor a teaching of every skill included in the Gottman Method. Rather, an assessment is done of the current crisis, and together with information gleaned from the written questionnaires filled out and sent to us earlier, goals are set to fit the time available. The Gottman Methods pertinent to achieving these goals are then incorporated into the treatment.

Generally, Marathon Couples' Therapy involves 2-5 consecutive days of intensive therapy. During each day, the sessions may include two to three hours of therapy in the morning, a break for lunch, and two to three hours of therapy in the afternoon. Your Marathon Couples' Therapy will be structured depending on the issues to be addressed, the amount of time contracted for the therapy, the goals you have for the therapy, and your emotional needs.

The structure of each therapy day may vary depending on your needs. Establishing therapeutic goals and a treatment plan to guide your therapy will occur in the first session. Thereafter, all treatment sessions will focus on the problems and goals at hand.

The Marathon Couples' Therapy approach has been shown to have benefits for couples that undertake it. It often leads to a significant reduction of feelings of distress, resolution of specific problems, and a stronger relationship. In many cases, it has moved couples from thinking of ending their relationship to recommitting to it in new ways.

However, it is important that you also understand the risks involved. Despite the "nuts and bolts" approach of this method, the Marathon Couples' Therapy format may move you more quickly and intensely into the areas of difficulty to be addressed. Therefore, you and /or your partner may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anxiety, anger, loneliness, and helplessness. Your therapy may also involve recalling unpleasant aspects of your history together and/or individually.

Difficulties between the two of you may become temporarily amplified. Additionally, difficulties with people important to you may also occur, family secrets may be disclosed, and despite our best efforts, therapy may not work out well. Thus, we can make no guarantees about how the therapy process will be for the two of you specifically or what the outcome will be for your relationship. In addition, Marathon Couples' Therapy, as with couples' therapy in general, has limitations and may be unadvisable in the following situations.

Should you have any questions regarding the following issues, please contact us for clarification about whether the Marathon Therapy method is suitable for your situation. These issues are:

  • If there is active alcohol and/or drug addiction on the part of either or both partners, from either partner's perspective
  • If there is serious violence in your relationship, threats by one or both partners that serious violence might occur, or fear of such serious violence on the part of one or both partners
  • If either partner currently has an untreated major mental illness (schizophrenia, recurrent psychotic depression, or bipolar/manic-depressive illness.) This does not include past, successfully treated psychotic episodes (e.g. post-partum depression with psychosis).
  • If there is an undisclosed, current affair that you are not willing to disclose (such secrets predict marital therapy failure)
  • If either partner is currently experiencing suicidal or homicidal thoughts, or has a history of serious harm inflicted on him/herself or another person

Upon completion of the therapy, we can prepare a written summary of your therapy process and recommendations for you as a couple, and if indicated, for each of you individually. We may recommend that Marathon Couples' Therapy be followed by couples' therapy conducted in your home locale. In some cases, co-ordination between your home locale therapist and us may be advisable. In this case, your therapist will have you both sign a Release of Information form to allow for this exchange, if further treatment is needed.

We are now scheduling sessions to be held in September, 2009 or later. If you are interested in Marathon Couples Therapy, please contact our assistant, Kristi Content, at telephone number 206.313.0471.