Are Virtual Retreats as Effective?

Spoiler alert… they can actually be more effective!

In the past few months, we’ve conducted more than a dozen virtual retreats using Zoom. All of these retreats were successful far beyond the clients’ expectations.

See this in their own words: “Testimonials from Virtual Retreat Clients”

At the bottom of this page, we also show excerpts from couples who were initially skeptical and hesitant to work with us online rather than in person.

When you read the client feedback you can see that we’ve suffered no limitations to our effectiveness using Zoom. In fact, many couples ended up seeing major advantages in having done their retreats virtually.

And these couples were not merely dealing with light-weight problems, either. On the contrary, we helped them heal heavy issues like affairs, infidelity, and lying.

We helped couples who had been disconnected emotionally, avoiding each other, building up walls of resentment, or living like room-mates for years.

We helped couples stuck in long term conflicts and fighting, or who were perenially bickering over everything. We helped couples who already had filed for divorce.

We helped these couples successfully, every bit equal in effectiveness to the in-person work we have delivered for decades in our intensive retreats.

If you would like to discuss your specific situation and explore whether we can help you, please call John at (707) 536-5781 or contact us here →

It’s Only a Myth that In-Person Work Is Better

At times our virtual retreats have seemed even more effective. Really. Yes, that was a surprise to us, too! We had long believed in-person work to be superior.

But upon reflection, the strong efficacy of our virtual work derives from our unique approach to coaching couples. Some of the techniques we utilize can actually be strengthened in the virtual format.

One of the things that distinguish our work is that we have a tool-based approach. We deliver to couples new and powerful communication tools that get positive results. In this way, we coach partners to communicate more effectively and productively.

This leads couples to emotionally repair their relationship wounds; to collaborate better as a team; to enable each other to feel heard, respected, and valued; and to renew their positive feelings and connection with each other.

So what’s the secret power of virtual work?

It lies in the fact that effective communication is a face-to-face process.

Literally, it’s face-to-face, even eye-to-eye. Thus, improving communication can only truly happen if partners are facing each other.

So, the more we can coach from the sidelines, the more time partners can spend directly facing each other, improving their communication, resolving their issues as a team, and reconnecting emotionally.

Even with our in-person work, we strive to sit on the sidelines coaching the couple, who directly interface with each other, face-to-face. Only through this direct contact can deep communication, healing, and connection take place.

This is one of the key differentiators of our coaching approach. It’s the opposite of most typical marriage counseling, where partners spend much of the time facing and communicating with and through the therapist.

The Advantages of Working Remotely

Using Zoom actually strengthens our ability to coach from the sidelines. It promotes this aspect of our approach. When we’re on a screen, the couple turns to us less than when we are in the same room with them.

This means they stay more engaged with each other. They more quickly get comfortable staying face-to-face, eye-to-eye. Doing so, they then more rapidly and deeply improve their communication, understanding, and connection.

Yet another big advantage we found for virtual retreats over the in-person format was increased flexibility in scheduling. This let couples spread out their sessions.

With in-person retreats, we do a pair of 3-hour sessions each day, for several days in a row. But virtual work offers clients more freedom and flexibility.

Some couples scheduled time between sessions to apply their new learnings to real-life situations. Then, informed by how that went, they got specific coaching in their next sessions. This helped them make even deeper changes.

Finally, some couples really benefitted from being in the comfort of their own home. They felt safer, more comfortable, and more, well, at home.

Get the Details about Virtual Retreats

From Clients Initially Skeptical of Virtual Work

Here are excerpts from the feedback we got from couples who were initially hesitant or skeptical about doing a virtual retreat. Many of them ended up finding reasons they thought the Zoom retreat was better than doing it in person.

“I didn’t know if I would like online work because I have never done it before. But it felt very good to have that distance between you and us. It felt good to be in my own space, use my bathroom, take a 10-minute nap if I need to during the break. The safety of our home made us more open to the process which went deep and was healing for us.”
“The worries and fears that we had in regards to the lack of efficacy of the online program dissipated on the first day working with you. Your reassurance and commitment to making the program as beneficial as in-person was apparent and truly appreciated. We do not feel that the online program was lacking in any way and would highly recommend it to our family and friends.”
“We were initially quite apprehensive about doing an intensive retreat online vs. in person. But John coached us the same as if we were together. He is an incredible coach, the best in his field. We learned a huge amount about each other and how to communicate far better than we ever have.
“I first thought ‘I don’t want to do this virtually. I need the person right in front of me.’ I thought I wouldn’t get as much out of it doing it online. But now I can say that it was life-changing. Just the couple of days have really opened our eyes and our hearts. Doing it online was actually much better for us. To experience being 100% tuned into while in the comfort of our own home was amazing.
“In hindsight, there are no negatives to doing this online, and there are some real positives, in addition to just the easier logistics: we were alone together during the off hours and the breaks, in our own comfortable, familiar surroundings. That made it far easier to focus on what we were actually there to accomplish and it made the breaks and meals very relaxing relative to being far from home in a hotel.”
“This has been awesome to do during the Coronavirus time. We’re really grateful for you. We really weren’t doing very well. The emotional repair process you gave us has been huge. This all has been really effective.
“You helped us so much. We thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. This retreat was a really good experience, in the comfort of our own home. We have received such great tools from you.”
“Our online virtual retreat has been a very good experience. We have come a long way. Being in our own house helped a lot. It is easier to be more truthful and access emotions not having the therapist sit in the room. I felt like we as a couple were a unit.
“During this stay-at-home period, the online intensive we did with you has literally saved our marriage. We are so glad we found you. And we thank you for the security we have found with each other through working with you.”
“We had hoped to get away and come to see you in beautiful Sonoma. But it worked out well to stay home and be able to spread out our sessions. That gave us plenty of time to put the tools we learned from you into practice for a day or two. And then we could get further coaching from you and improve even more.”