Couple And Family Retreats

 (Updated: 1/30/13)

"People get married for therapy, and come to therapy for supervision."  -Carl A. Whitaker

When the problems faced by couples or families are too deeply entrenched, too complex, or too urgent for regular office therapy, extended retreats can be arranged.  Signs of such problems are longstanding -- sometimes transgenerational --conflict, alienation of family subgroups from one another, wounds that continue to damage and alienate, individual histories that can't "cohabit," betrayal (e.g. abandonment, abuse, affairs), and others.

General Information:

  • 3-6 day-long meetings, some evenings. 
  • The retreat can consist of couples, parents and children, grandparents, adult children/siblings, and grandchildren.
  • All living generations (and more, symbolically!) may participate. If presence in-person is not feasible, phone calls and/or skype may be enough.
  • In general, the more people, the longer the retreat must be. For example, a retreat for a couple is unlikely to take more than three days. Retreat length will be determined early in discussion of the project.
  • Conducted at a designated facility such as a hotel, a conference center complex, a Bed & Breakfast, etc.
  • All parties stay at or near the retreat center.
  • Adults only (including older teens if appropriate). Exceptions must be negotiated beforehand.

Leaders:  Dr. Ward leads and is responsible for all therapeutic activities and interventions.  He is partnered by his wife, Rhea Lee, a retired R.N. She has extensive experience participating in support and consultive roles in both retreat and group therapy settings. She is not formally trained in psychotherapy.

Process of the Retreat:

therapist reviewer

"If you know where you're going, you're not on a [pilgrim's] journey. You're commuting."  -Michael Meade

  • The goal is to address the needs and concerns of  participants, so there is no preplanned agenda or "curriculum" for a retreat like this. Themes and issues emerge from the process real-time.
  • After the initial meeting, what happens depends on issues raised by paricipants and on the leaders' ability to respond to them effectively.
  • May be emotionally intense at times. The process is designed to contain such feelings safely.
  • Experiential: Participants will learn from their own experience during the meetings. 
  • A few short "lecturettes" with handouts will be provided.
  • Generally, at least two sessions per day will be held in morning, afternoon, and/or evening.
  • Generally, all participants will meet together. Exceptions may be made if the need arises. 

Fees and Other Details: 

  • $1000/day plus expenses (Note: For a 7-hour work day, this computes to $142.86/hour. I am also "on-call" 24/7 for the duration of the retreat; see below. For comparison, my current fee for office therapy is $130/hour.) [NOTE: Fees subject to change without being posted to this site.]
  • Responsibility for the cost of the retreat must be clear and contracted in writing before the retreat begins.
  • The first day's fee is payable in advance, and the balance by the end of the retreat.
  • Dr. Ward is "on-call" 24/7 for the duration of the retreat at no additional charge. If special attention is needed for a family subsystem (e.g couple, siblings); if an emergency arises; if an intrense issue precludes closing a session on time; or if other situations requiring intervention arise, it is Dr. Ward's responsibility to handle them.
  • When possible, all participating parties must meet with Dr. Ward prior to beginning the retreat. When meeting is impossible (e.g. because of travel distance), phone calls will do.
  • All parties will be provided with detailed "Informed Consent for Psychothereapy" forms well in advance of the retreat. All participants must sign this form. Refusal to sign is equivalent to withdrawal from the retreat.
  • All parties must have access to their own psychotherapists after the retreat, and release Dr. Ward to speak with them if he deems it necessary. For those not working with a therapist, Dr. Ward will offer a followup session (at a courtesy fee of $75), a referral, or both.

INFORMATION AND QUESTIONS:  Contact Dr. Ward at 803.730.6489, or email him at [email protected]

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