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Private Couples Therapy Retreats - Intensive Help

When scheduling weekly clinical work is challenging

Marriage Retreat CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

The Marriage Retreat Illinois couples have COME TO relied upon for experienced help with their marriage.

Meet a Master Couples Therapist Serving Illinois

Marriage Retreat Chicago:

Working privately with each of you
 for the entire weekend.

offering couples retreat chicago

Dr. McNulty is a psychoanalytically informed psychotherapist, Gottman Certified Therapist and Master Trainer.

"I would trust him to work well with anyone I love." 

 --master Couples RESEARCHER JOHN Gottman

Over Twenty-five Years' Experience Helping Couples

Dr. McNulty is one of the earliest certified Gottman Couples therapists in the nation. Each blends a science-based couples work with his extensive clinical training.

Senior Certified Gottman Relationship Therapist

Master trainer and workshop leader. Personally trained by Drs. John and Julie Gottman. These Masters conduct trainings and acts as consultants to the Gottman Institute's professional development program. 

Recommended by THE Premier Couples Researchers:

"Dr. McNulty is that rare combination of gifted therapist and teacher who possess profound wisdom, deep compassion, and brilliant skill. He is one of the best clinicians we've had the privilege to know...He is a gift to us and hopefully will be to you, too."    - Drs. John & Julie Gottman.

Why an Intensive Therapy Retreat in Illinois?

Private couples counseling retreats: To improve your greatest relationship challenges.

There are hundreds of options for relationship retreats across the country. Most are group psychoeducational retreats. Some offer a beautiful location and luxury accommodations. Many offer the pair a "couples getaway" experience in the Midwest. Some are faith-based or focused solely on improving your communication. Ours are different.

A Private, Science-based Couple Therapy Retreat

Couples Therapy Inc. offers private therapeutic intensives. work with us if you're in relationship distress. Or want to dramatically improve how you are relating now. While every relationship is different and no retreat can promise guaranteed results, these retreats offer you a step-by-step understanding of what types of science-based interventions are most effective and impactful.

Couples Healing Retreat in the Heartland

A couple that is committed to the process can leave with a fundamental understanding of the particular challenges their relationship faces, what makes some marital problems "unresolvable," and how to work with true values and lifestyle differences.

Our offering help one couple at a time to reconnect, improve their communication and rebuild trust. Dr. McNulty has been helping Chicago couples for a quarter century.

We're the Couples Counseling Intensive Retreat the Midwest relies upon by couples of all kinds: straight and gay couples, those in long-term relationships, newly engaged or newlywed couples. Even couples facing the crisis of divorce. 

Dr. McNulty is a Master Couples Therapist helping you to break down barriers and open up to the heart of the issue. He knows how to help couples address long standing areas of conflict, infidelity, divorce threats, and complications such as managing early trauma histories, mental health issues, or extended family struggles that affect the partnership. He sees couples from around the country and the world.

Marriage counseling for an intensive retreat with real science-based help.

When you are in pain, we're here to help.

Dr. McNulty is one of many Gottman Method Couples Therapists at Couples Therapy Inc.  A gifted member of Chicago's therapeutic community.

Dr. McNulty has received five Fulbright Senior Specialist grants for his international work in Sri Lanka. He has made presentations on teaching The Gottman Method at two Annual Gottman Conferences, and an event in the Chicago area with John and Julie Gottman as commentators.  John Gottman has also referred to him as: "a highly sensitive, intelligent, and intuitive clinician...His work demonstrates the kind of care and deep understanding people in other cultures that is unique in my experience. "

Learn more about 40+ years of research helping couples. Learn more about The Gottman Method.

You won't find More Highly Skilled Clinicians

When weekly work is too difficult to schedule, one intensive weekend equals 6 months of traditional counseling.

Dr. McNulty offers a limited number
of couples therapy retreats each year.

Marriage Retreat in The Windy City:  15 intensives Available for Illinois residents in 2022

These are one-to-one retreats. Please book early for the best availability.

When your relationship faces stress, infidelity, or the threat of divorce, don't wait.

Get a jump-start and change around your relationship dynamics with a thoroughly trained expert with decades of science-based experience.

Marriage retreats in two Greater-Chicago area locations:

Evanston, IL

708 Church Street, Suite 258
Evanston, IL 60201
14 miles from Chicago up Lake Shore Drive

Highland Park, IL

735 St. Johns Avenue, Suite 100
Highland Park, IL 60035
37 min via I-94 E from Chicago

Where to Stay?

Some couples ask us to suggest a romantic inn. If they plan to enhance their sexual intimacy, they want a romantic setting. They ask for a weekend with the flavor of a romantic getaway with a hot tub or whirlpool tubs. They want to combine a romantic weekend with the work of improving their marriage in expert couples counseling. Let us suggest:

Harvey House Bed and Breakfast
107 S Scoville Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302

A great option is the Harvey House Bed & Breakfast. This ultimate romantic B and B is the perfect location for those wanting access to Chicago and Oak Park! Close by the Inn are incredible dining experiences, charming shops, and galleries.

 Harvey House Bed & Breakfast is located in Oak Park, IL, just 8 miles from the heart of the Loop downtown. Oak Park offers a diversity long gone from the average city street. The "EL" train is within 3 blocks, and departs every 8 minutes.

Harvey House is your place for relaxation and comfort with an attention to luxurious detail. A perfect place to retire to after a day of intensive counseling.

Are you looking for the “best” weekend intensive therapy retreat?

You can determine for yourself who's "best."

It looks confusing with a vast array of choices, but it’s pretty easy really:

Sort out whether you want a “group” or “private” intensive retreat. Figuring out the  retreat for you and your relationship is based on a few simple guiding criteria.

Private or Group Retreats: What's the difference?

  • Group couples therapy  retreats are inexpensive compared to private one-to-one couples therapy retreats. Look for a Group Intensive Retreat in the Midwest that teaches basic skills or is just for fun. 
  • An Intensive Couples Therapy Retreat is serious business. This devoted intensive therapy are for couples who want to enhance their intimate relationship or really turn around serious marital issues.

Here’s more about the differences so you can know how to judge:

Group Couples Therapy Retreats

  • Can be a psycho-educational, fun, physical, yoga, spiritual or religious retreat.
  • A workshop can offer insights and tools... but it's not couples therapy.
  • Ask for a curriculum or outline of the day’s events.
  • Examine the underlying structure and theories of what’s being presented.
  • Typically designed to teach communications skills to foster closeness, friendship, and trust.
  • The group experience might contain 3-300 couples or more held in an office, hotel or auditorium.
  • Typically they offers psycho-educational materials to take home and study.
  • Usually $700-$1000 for a 12-16 hour weekend retreat.

Private, Couples Intensive Therapy Retreat Criteria

  • These are private therapy. One couples to one therapist.
  • Run by a licensed professional in behavioral healthcare. Or should be.
  • Look at the actual clinical skills of the couples therapist. That should be listed and clearly spelled out on the website. Look at their graduate training, post-graduate experience, objective training credentials in couples therapy and related recognition of professional certifications.
  • The Couples Therapist should have demonstrated skill and clinical experience in a science-based couples therapy approach. It’s been proven effective!
  • Estimate the actual cost of the retreat. You are paying for intensive Couples Therapy.  Count up the number of actual clinical hours you’ll be in couples therapy. “Two-day” or “three-day” is a meaningless comparison if you only spend a few hours a day in actual couples therapy.
  • Figure out what comparable lodging will cost in the area (if that’s included). Subtract that out in order to determine the actual “cost” of your clinical couples therapy.

Finding the right Couple Therapy Retreat by asking five simple questions.

  1. Who offers this couple therapy retreat? What’s your philosophy?
  2. Who actually runs your marriage retreats we will be going to?
  3. What do the marriage retreats look like?
  4. Who should attend?
  5. How much do they cost?

1. Who offers this Couple Therapy Retreat?

About Couples Therapy Inc.

Couples Therapy Inc. is a privately owned business composed of a group of skilled couples therapists offering retreats for relationships across the USA. Our practice is proudly composed of 30+ experienced couples therapists licensed as psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and mental health counselors (or trainees). We have almost 600 collective years conducting post-masters psychotherapy here in the USA. We specialize in science-based or evidence-based treatment to help couples in intensive retreats. And our two clinicians in the Midwest offer both private therapy retreats and group couples workshops.

Understanding Science-based Skills in Couples Therapy

There are many approaches to helping couples and many writers on intimate relationships.

However, there are only two demonstrated methods of science-based couples therapy:

  • The Gottman Method and
  • Emotionally-focused Couples Therapy (EFT).

Each have levels of training associated with them:

  • The Gottman Method has Levels I, II, and III, and Certification.
  • EFT has 1. Externship, 2. Core Skills, and Certification.
  • There are also “supervisors” and “trainers of therapists.”

Look for a licensed therapist with the most advanced training in these methods that you can find, or, ideally, someone with experience in both.

Who Started Couples Therapy Inc?

Dr. Kathy McMahon, a clinical psychologist with over 30 years of experience, started Couples Therapy Inc with the goal of pulling together the best couples therapists available to conduct easy-to-access couples therapy anywhere on the globe.

We offer wonderful choices of skilled couples therapists, across the Midwest.

We’re proud to talk about our highly-skilled clinician running a marriage retreat in just a moment, but first let’s talk about our philosophy about these Married Couples Therapy Retreats offered in the Midwest.

illinois-marriage counseling retreat

Dr. Kathy McMahon, Founder and President

What is your philosophy about helping couples?

We believe in principled, science-based couples therapy.

If you are religious, we don’t believe you should have to choose between clinicians who have deep faith and someone with a fundamental understanding of science-based marriage counseling.

If you hold no religious beliefs, we believe that a skilled clinician trained in science-based couples therapy should be your foremost criteria for finding the best marriage counseling retreat.

We see couples of every age, ability, sexual orientation, income, race, nationality, profession, religion, abilities, and sexual orientations.

We are both secular and faith-based counselors.

Some of us are ministers. Some of us have no religious affiliation. But all of us share a deep belief in an organized study of couples.

We’ve chosen as our collective starting point a science-based approach from the famous Gottman Institute. But some of us have incorporated training in the OTHER science-based method, Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy and clinically-grounded methods such as the Developmental Model or Imago Therapy.

For couples with a strong faith-based Christian perspective, we also have two ministers on our team (in Kansas City, Missouri metro area) with that same, pragmatic, science-based approach, but who also can help you bring a greater awareness and understanding of what’s gone wrong in your relationship by incorporating a Christian-based or biblical-based approach into your couples intensive retreat.

2. The Therapist Offering Couples Intensive Retreats right outside Chicago, IL and across the Midwest

What’s the therapist’s name and credentials running these Couples Therapy Intensive Retreats?

Dr. Michael McNulty is a doctoral level clinical social worker who has been praised by Drs. John and Julie Gottman as being “a highly sensitive, intelligent, and intuitive clinician” whose “work demonstrates the kind of care and deep understanding [of] people.”

That’s from two of the most recognized American psychological researchers and clinicians who have done extensive work over four decades on divorce prediction and marital stability.

Dr. McNulty has won five Fulbright Senior Specialist grants for his international humanitarian work in Sri Lanka helping train local professionals managing trauma. He studied both "self psychology" and qualitative research in his graduate studies before finding the evidence-based John Gottman model of Couples Therapy. He works from an attachment framework, carefully helping couples heal the wounds of betrayals, early trauma, affairs, and personality problems.

He’s one of the earliest certified Gottman Method Couples Therapists alive today and has gone on to train literally hundreds of graduate level clinicians in this powerfully-effective method of helping couples.

Dr. McNulty offers his Midwest retreats for relationships in the Greater Chicago area in both Evanston, and Highland Park.

3. What does your Couple Therapy Retreat Look like?

These retreats aren’t a “couples bootcamp” of fun activities. They are private, individually-tailored retreats for couples in distress that are scheduled typically over a weekend.

  • One highly skilled counselor and one couple at a time.
  • Our retreats offer you an intensive couples therapy experience.
  • You meet for two hours with a skilled couples therapist on Friday night, and
  • Two full days on both Saturday and Sunday 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. 

That’s 7 hours (including lunch and breaks) of intensive couples therapy work each day. Sixteen hours with a skilled couples therapist.

It’s not for the faint of heart. 

Many other alternative marriage intensive counseling offer 2-3 hours of couples therapy work each day. This may be suitable for a couple in less relationship distress or those who want to allow time for sightseeing.

Our couples schedule a vacation if they want to sightsee.

The Midwest Marriage Intensive Retreat begin with an “Assessment” of your Marital Relationship.

We begin with a relationship assessment prior to the start of your couples therapy retreat that has over 40 years of research behind it, the famous Gottman Method Couples Therapy assessment. But we don’t stop there.

Our assessment instrument that we call “The BIG BIG Book” has over 800 questions in it. It will take you 2-3 hours of work to complete. We want a thorough understanding of your relationship and its challenges. Each of you complete it online, separately.

It’s then scored, examined and your every word is interpreted several weeks before your couples therapy intensive retreat, so that your couples counselor has the chance to understand your goals and needs more thoroughly. We make it convenient for you, as each of you complete it online in the privacy of your home or office.

In-Person Assessment During the Marriage Counseling Retreat

Then, in the couples intensive retreat we continue this “State of the Union” assessment in person, meeting first with both of you to gather a relationship oral history and problem profile. That’s enough for the two hours on Friday night.

The following day, we use a clinically-structured “disagreement” that we capture on videotape and analyze. We use this tape to determine the presence of “The Four Horsemen” and begin to tailor our treatment plan.

After this, we meet with each of you alone, to provide the opportunity to get a more in-depth look at the way you personally see your relationship struggles.

None of this is “guesswork.” 

All of it is a part of a science-based protocol designed by the Gottman Institute itself.

When therapy begins, it is highly focused, clinically relevant, and “you informed” work. You know what we’ll be working on and exactly why.

4. Who should attend these Marriage Retreats in the Midwest?

This intensive couples therapy is for those who are serious about change. Our couples are not only highly motivated but are ready to bring concrete action to learning what’s wrong in their relationship and how to fix it. And they trust an organized, research-driven, science-based approach with decades of experience and demonstrated results behind it.

Couples Therapy Inc. offers therapy intensives designed for extremely busy, high-powered couples in distress. Most of our couples have tried weekly couples therapy, and “failed.”

Despite their strong commitment to working on their connection, weekly work with an “All Purpose” generalist was inadequate to meet their needs. And fortunately, they gave up on the therapist instead of their partners and looked for an intensive therapy experience for couples.

They wanted concentrated couples therapy with the most experienced couples therapist they can find.

In place of actual clinical skills, many retreats offer you “support.” They promise to be “nonjudgmental” and motivated to helping you reach your goals. And to give you their “undivided attention” and “privacy.”

At Couples Therapy Inc. we believe these are basic psychotherapy skills we teach our graduates students, but they’re not enough.

Our practice of skilled, experienced couples therapists offer intensive help in person and online couples therapy across the Midwest, the USA, and internationally too.

Beyond the buzzwords, an intensive retreat is all about two things: The therapist and the approach.

Couples attend who already have a strong, healthy relationship, and couples who have been impacted by relationship damage such as affairs, poor fighting skills, resentments, long-standing anger or painful regrettable incidents.  

This intensive couples therapy is not appropriate for couples dealing with addiction, domestic violence, or other ongoing psychiatric issues that require hospitalization, psychiatric medical care, or weekly work.

In those situations, we recommend seeking a clinical assessment and possibly ongoing counseling with Dr. McNulty, a Gottman-trained therapist, in his weekly psychotherapy practice.

Read: Relationship Experts Reveal 6 Secrets that Help Power Couples Stay Togethe(Business Insider)

5. How much does this intensive help cost?

You are booking your couples therapist for 2 hours on Friday night, and 7 hours for the next two days. And scoring the BIG BIG Book takes 2.5 additional clinical hours. That’s 18.5 hours. Our retreats range in price from $3500 to $6500 (the owner, Dr. K charges more…) for 18.5 hours of clinical time, depending on the skills, credentials, and location of the therapist. Dr. McNulty, as one of our most respected therapists, charges on the higher price range.

If you were seeing an “All Purpose Therapist” for a classic 45-minute session, that would be almost 25 weekly sessions, or about 6 months of weekly help.

Group Couples Workshop Retreats

The Art and Science of Love is a world-renowned weekend workshop for couples. It was designed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, renounced researchers on couples relationship dynamics.

Led by Senior Master Trainer Michael McNulty from the Gottman Institute, come and learn why couples worldwide have benefited from the Gottman Method over the last 40 years.

  • 2 days filled with presentations and experiential activities designed to confirm, strengthen, or restore your love
  • For couples of every age, ability, and sexual orientation
  • Has produced positive results for 94% of those who attend.

The Art and Science of Love group workshop gives you new insights and research-based skills that focus on dramatically improving the intimacy and friendship in your relationship and help you manage conflict in a healthy, positive way.

Workshop Description

John and Julie Gottman have designed this curriculum from their 40 years of research studying more than 3,000 couples. Dr. McNulty is an experienced trainer and brings The Art and Science of Love to Midwest couples.

It’s developed from research on what actually works in relationships that are happy and stable, not naïve notions or unreliable theories of what a relationship should be. On day one, you will learn how to build friendship in your relationship and express feelings of respect and affection. On day two, you will learn how to manage conflict and communicate effectively.

94% of couples report positive results according to the Gottman Institute’s research on those who attend, based on exit surveys.

Two Levels of Workshops: Levels One and Two

If you’ve already attended a Level One workshop in the Art and Science of Love, you can refresh your skills and deepen your understanding of the Gottman Method by attending The Art and Science of Love 2. It’s an advanced workshop for couples.

No public discussion or disclosure is involved. All work is done as a couple and Dr. McNulty and other Gottman-trained therapists are available to support you one-on-one during exercises.

This educational workshop may not be appropriate for couples dealing with addiction, domestic violence, or other serious relationship issues.

Again, in those situations, we recommend seeking counseling with Dr. McNulty, Gottman-trained therapist in his Highland Park or Evanston Il office.

I'm not in Illinois. Do you hold a couples therapy retreat near me?

Most likely. We hold our counseling retreats within 300 miles of most major cities in the USA.

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