Kathy McMahon, Psy.D.
Certified Gottman Method Therapist
Can a single weekend transform your relationship?
Yes, it happen every day.
Let me tell you about an actual couple I worked with a few years ago. I'll call them the "Bully & The Shy Bride."
Colin called me in a panic. His wife Hanna had left him. She even bought another place to live and had moved out. But he heard that I did "Last Shot" couples therapy, and he wanted to try marriage counseling again. This couple had been to more than 4 different marriage counselors in the past 18 years. None of them had helped.
While the Colin was desperate to stay together, Hanna was not. She had lined up a divorce mediator, and was ready to go through with it. However, as we spoke in a private phone consultation, she admitted that she feared being "bullied" by her husband during mediation.
I told Hanna: "You should really know how to stand up to him, or you probably shouldn't be in mediation." So her goal for the marriage retreat was to learn to stand up to a man who she described as "a big bully who pushed me around for 18 years." She made me promise not to 'push her into staying' in her marriage, either. That's what her husband was trying to do.
Colin was really shaken to the core when he arrived. Like many powerful and successful men he had no idea why Hanna had left, except that they "couldn't stop fighting." He had his complains about her, but his biggest goal was to "just fix it." He wanted his wife to come home and he wanted to stop the endless battles.
In short, he wanted to save his marriage.
We started the way I always do, with an assessment called a "State of the Union." They told me their early 'Story of Us.' It was full of trials and tribulation, like so many troubled couples. Horrors of ex's, financial setbacks, kids' problems, you name it.
Colin and Hanna were survivors, personally, and as a couple. And through it all, they had stayed together...until now. Their fighting had become unbearable. But one thing was also clear: this couple's story was also full of passion!
Here's what I told Colin: He simply had to change his worldview. "You're a boss at your job, but you have to change your approach at home. You are emotionally abusive, and it has to stop."
Now this is where the story gets interesting: According to my client, of all of his previous therapists, I was the first to explain it in such stark term. He thought Hanna was being overly dramatic when she called him a bully. He honestly didn't believe it was true!
Hanna had her own challenges. I told her:
"You have to keep your cool. When you flood, you stop thinking clearly. When that happens, you not only lose your clarity, but also your nerve."
Hanna's part in this was: She "gave up" when he started to raise his voice. He scared her, so she just let him have his way. That dynamic made her miserable and had to stop. And in the last few years, Hanna had learn to stand up to Colin, but not in a calm, even way.
That was a remarkable weekend. It's an honor for me to watch two people boldly change once they knew how to do so.
Their previous four therapists would listen and try to give them advice. But no one taught them how to act differently...
It's been more than two year later, and The Bully and the Shy Bride who were "doomed to divorce" are happily together again. Hanna was cautious about moving back in, however, she started to spend more time with Colin. They began to enjoy being together.
Now, two years later, they still do have fights. A fair number of them. But here's the difference:
The severity of your problems does not predict divorce. No matter how bad it is, you can be happily marriage again, according to the research. The marital endurance ethic plays a big role. These are couples who stubbornly outlast their problems. Five years later, many sources of conflict and distress have eased.
When your marriage doesn't work well, you'll bicker over trivial issues, stop having sex, or feel disconnected and lonely. You may even want to leave the marriage.
Not all "retreats" are the same! Some teach you general information in large groups. Others focus on religious principles. Some are held in exotic places led by people with no credentials as all! And none do assessment before you come. They teach and don't learn anything about you.
Both know how to fight without escalating it. Hanna sets limits. Colin accepts influence. They work collaboratively because they know what they are doing and why when they disagree. And now it doesn't get out of control.
This work is based on 40+ years of research conducted with over 3,000 couples. It is science-based work that has taught us what makes marriages work, and what doesn't.
And like wearing dark glasses, they see the world in a very negative light. Once you know exactly what to do, it's easier to take action, focus on doing things differently, and change the way you relate FAST. That's because we're all "hard-wired for love."
Being emotionally close and intimate just feels better. We calm down. We feel safer to open up and talk directly about our feelings.
Most marriages can go in either direction when they are in trouble. You can end it, or you can mend it.
Their job is to help you end your marriage. Ours is to help you mend it, however far into the 'dark side' you've both gone.
Or you can condense that time into a single intensive marriage retreat week-end. Like The Bully & The Shy Bride, we'll start with a thorough assessment we call a "State of the Union." It's done online and then in person. It will take you hours to complete. We will give you the "the good, the bad, and the ugly" news about your relationship.
It's personally tailored to just you two. It makes a huge difference to the way you love.
Here's how we do it: We think it's more respectful to get a lot of information from you before you come. Then, our skilled couples therapists can score and interpret your every word to know what to ask when they see you.
There was a time when marriage counselors knew very little about how to help couples. It's shocking but true. That changed 40 years ago when John Gottman began doing fascinating research.
His research has spanned 40+ years conducted with over 3,000 couples. They've taught us remarkable things...like a predictable pattern of marital decline, and ways to change it around.
He began to study real couples in a one-bedroom apartment he called a "love lab." He videotaped them, monitored their heart rate, even took their blood when they came and when they left. Then he followed them, some for as long as 20 years. He learned that some stayed happily married, for some, they became miserable together, and still other divorced.
His findings have been repeated and science-based couples therapy is now 70-92% effective. And that's after an average of 6 years of marital misery.
All of our therapists have been trained in this model.
In one prominent study, 66% of currently divorced couples answered "Yes" to the question:
"Looking back, do you wish you and your ex-spouse had tried harder to work through your differences?"
Only 25% of divorcing couples seek out professional help of any kind to rescue their relationship. The ones that do, go an average of only 4 sessions. Even worse, it's most likely that they saw an "All Purpose Therapist" for a 50 minute session...just long enough to start a fight, but not enough time to move through it.
That's not evidence-based treatment...
If you're asking yourself: "Could we work again with the right therapist?" the answer is a resounding "YES!"
Have you made plans to leave, consulted an attorney, or even filed for divorce? If you keep hoping that maybe “one last shot” of couples therapy with someone who knows what they've doing might make a difference, you're right. It really could.
We see it all the time. We work with hostile couples, ones that keep separate bedrooms, have moved out, or have stopped talking to one another. Marriages with little babies or grown children. Even newlyweds, engaged couples or those with no intention of ever getting married. Sometimes our clients are approaching retirement, but can't take it anymore... If nothing changes, they aren't prepared to stay unhappy like this 'until death do us part.'
Our passion is helping couples.
We're a group of some of the best trained couples therapists across the USA (and in Europe, too.)
Dr. Heide Rodriguez-Ubama
Dr. Heide Rodriguez-Ubama is top in her field. Dr. Heide Rodriguez-Ubina is a clinical psychologist obtaining Gottman Levels I, II & III and on the certification track to become a Gottman Method Couples Therapist. She has also obtained a certificate in Clinical Traumatology and eMETT 3.0 Training, Expert Level, which enables clinicians to read facial expressions. In the late 1990's she completed her Masters degree in Counseling in Chicago, IL, and as worked with U.S. military families & couples in Puerto Rico and Stateside. She's bilingual (Spanish & English).
Jennifer Elkins, M.A.
Jennifer Elkins, MA is a cognitive-behavioral therapist with Gottman Levels I & II completed. Practicing in Sarasota, Florida, she works with all couples and specializes in treating Attention Deficit Disorder in relationship.
Jennifer strives for perfection, and holds herself to the highest level of achievement in whatever she does, from academics, to hobbies, athletics, art or music. As a result, she achieves remarkable things. Her focus now is taking the lessons she's learned in her own marriage and sharing them with others.
"We totally immerse ourselves in understanding you and your marriage. "
We feel it is more respectful to thoroughly understand you both, before we intervene. And our powerful credentials let you know we really get it.
Our couples therapists have written for professional journals, books, or articles for the general public. Three of us have run graduate programs...
I am writing to express my/our deep appreciation for our work with our therapist at Couples Therapy Inc. We are a married couple of 24 years, and have been actively considering divorce for the past several months. As a last ditch effort, we let go of our previous marriage therapist and began working with you, first in 3 sessions online, and then in an intensive. Our therapist has been an extraordinary support for both of us. Her style is both structured and flexible. I appreciated that she listened exceedingly well. She brings evidence-based research into the mix. Perhaps most of all, she is optimistic, thought not in an unrealistic way. She has been instrumental in helping us develop new patterns of communication and engagement.
We are very, very grateful.
We have seen numerous therapist over the last three years and you have by far exceeded all of our expectations. I got there on Friday with a lot of anger over our situation. By the time we left Sunday afternoon I felt free.
She had a very nice way of not taking sides yet giving good strong comments and thought-provoking scenarios. She absolutely knew us when we got there and often referred to our history. She was extraordinarily easy to talk to and also has a nice sense of humor.
She gave us practical tools to use when I was very upset and we left with a new vision of our future and tools to use to improve our communication.
I was skeptical heading into the weekend but now I am so glad that we did it.”
“For a long time, I had so many doubts as to whether we could make this work. I spent most of my marriage not knowing it could be as rich as this last month as been. I felt the "switch,"and it's like living in sunshine instead of shadows.
My husband and I haven't had a fight in months, even while navigating normally very tense waters including dealing with our families, and even buying a house! They've turned into discussions.
I'm not kidding, it's been the sweetest month I've ever had in our marriage. I know that we'll hit plenty of bumps ahead. But for the first time in a long time, it feels like my teammate, my partner has shown up.
So this email is simply to say "thank you." Thank you for giving us the tools, and the hope that things would change if we wanted them to. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for giving me my husband back, and for listening when we were at our rock bottom.
We are very, very grateful.
Choose highly trained specialists with demonstrated Couples Therapy Skills.
Save time by completing "The BIG BIG Book" Online Assessment.
Gain a thorough understanding of your destructive patterns...
One of a handful of both Gottman Certified Couples Therapists & Board Certified Sex Therapists
"I review over 1,000 resumes each year, searching the globe for the most qualified couples therapists. It's remarkably hard to find exceptional talent. Many therapists (80%) believe they are already skilled at providing couples therapy.
The reality is alarming: less than 12% who claim to be "couples therapists" have taken even a single course in couples therapy. I look for certifications and specialized training before I hire, and a dedication to helping couples. Certifications mean proven skill."
We don't do generic, educationally-oriented group training for a crowd of couples. But there are many out there to choose from. Our work is 'one couple at a time.' And we learn as much as we can about you before you come. Your time will never be wasted in our face-to-face work.
We want you to be fully informed about the vast number of option available to you in a retreat format. The reason is simple: We believe we offer the best Marriage Retreat available for moderately- to highly-distressed couples. These are designed to be life-changing, turn-around retreats, not generic advice. Ask for our six-paged Definitive Guide to Couples Retreats when you contact us.
But this is not just a financial investment. We expect a lot from you. This includes the time and energy you'll devote to completing the online diagnostic evaluation we call: "The BIG BIG Book." We do our part, but you must also do yours to get the most out of this experience. If you aren't willing to put effort into this extensive assessment process, then we're not for you...
These retreats, run by expert psychologists and couples counselors, target particular couples:
We usually need 3 weeks lead time to allow you time to complete your BIG BIG Book. Contact us for "emergency" retreats.
You both need to complete your own version of The BIG BIG Book, and make travel and lodging accommodations (we'll send you our favorites...) The Berkshires is a vacation destination, so we encourage you to book early.
Absolutely. Call or email our office to schedule a mutually convenient time.
Not likely. Few insurance companies pay for couples therapy. However, Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA's) may. Ask your Accountant or Compensation and Benefits Administrator if you qualify for FSA's.
You can fly into Miami International Airport (Miami-Dade County) or Sarasota–Bradenton Airport.
You can call Daniel at 212-328-1162 (New York or International Callers) or Toll Free: 844-926-8753, extension 2.
P.S. These retreats are in high demand and offered on a first come, first reserved basis. We can't hold your retreat without payment.
Could this make a huge difference in your marriage?
Don't put it off.
Contact us today to schedule a "Get Acquainted Phone Consult" with the Senior Clinician of your choice.