You and your partner will spend the weekend in your own private accommodation in beautiful Coffs Harbour or nearby Sawtell. Your therapist for the retreat, Dr Mandy Peyton, will come to you and conduct the sessions in the comfort and convenience of your accommodation’s living space for the 4 scheduled sessions (so you don’t need a car). The rest of the time is your own to enjoy together.
This is not a group program. Each retreat is tailored to your relationship and Mandy will carefully track and respond to where each of you, and your relationship are at throughout the process.
Pre-retreat assessment process
Prior to booking a retreat, you will be required to attend two 1-hour online counselling sessions, affording you the opportunity to meet Mandy, and for her to get a sense of your concerns, some background, and assess the appropriateness of such a retreat for you as a couple. (If Mandy assesses that the weekend is not suitable for you as a couple, she will let you know and seek an alternate referral for you where possible).
The sessions are carefully paced over a Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday morning (times are somewhat flexible)
(7-8.30pm) After you have had time to check-in to your accommodation and settle in. This first session will be a ‘landing pad’ allowing you to orient yourselves, feel into the space and the process, and clarify your primary points of focus for the weekend.
(10am-12.30pm and 2-4.30pm) will allow you to deepen into the process and expand on the underlying drivers of the issues at hand and how they have come to be as they are. Depending on where you are as a couple, this may involve unpacking the stuck cycles you find yourselves in, and beginning to discover new understanding and responses when you find yourselves triggered in all too familiar ways.
Or it may be going to the ‘heart of the matter’ in greater depth, plumbing into the places of your vulnerabilities, needs and longings in a way that you can see and respond to one another with greater empathy and authenticity. This ultimately builds the bonds that take your relationship to entirely new places and restructures the old fears and wounds that keep you at a distance from one another
(10-12.30pm) will be a time to consolidate the process and reflect on what you most want to take home and continue to integrate and practice, as well as pre-empting what might get in the way of that.
Importantly, there is also time for you to relax, enjoy the beaches, eateries, and beautiful surrounds of the mid-north coast and leave your day-to-day cares and responsibilities behind. Given the busy pace of life and relentless to-do lists characteristic of modern life, unwinding together is an integral component of the retreat as a healing and restorative experience for your relationship, allowing your alarm systems to dial down, which will in turn support the counselling process.
Mandy is one of only a handful of fully certified Emotionally Focussed Couple’s Therapists (EFT) in Australia. In addition, she holds a professional doctorate in Counselling Psychology from Swinburne University. Mandy has been working with couples and individuals for over 15 years and has accumulated broad experience and expertise across a range of presentations.
Mandy’s style is warm, empathic, insightful and professional and she has helped many couples to:
EFT is expanding across the globe as an effective, efficient, theoretically sound, and evidenced-based method of couples counselling. Developed by Dr Susan Johnson in the 80’s when she integrated Emotion Focussed Therapy with Adult Attachment Theory resulting in a model of intra-psychic and relational change that has stood the test of decades of research and practice and continues to grow and evolve.
EFT proceeds in 3 stages. Stage 1 is where the problem and distress is identified and distilled, and the negative pattern of interaction – called ‘the negative cycle’ – is mapped and reflected upon. Each partner gets a sense of their steps in the dance, begins to notice when they are triggered, and learns to step back from the cycle. This lays the ground for greater safety and allows the therapist to take the couple into the second stage of the work.
Stage 2 is where the underlying fears, wounds, vulnerabilities and needs are unearthed and shared with your partner, sensitively guided by the therapist, who is supporting each of you step by step in the process. Withdrawn partners are invited to come forward and engage more fully, reassuring their partner they are available and responsive. The pursuing partner, who has typically been the more reactive one, noticeably calms and settles. Both partners learn to express needs and longings in a way their partner can more readily receive and respond to. Stage 3 is the process of consolidating old problems from the new, more flexible and secure positions and often previously irresolvable conflicts find new openings.
If you wish to learn more about EFT I can highly recommend Sue Johnson’s book Hold Me Tight.
The full fee for the on-site counselling component of the retreat is $1590.
Pre-retreat online counselling sessions are charged at $180 per 1-hour session (typically 2 sessions will be scheduled before the retreat).
Follow-up counselling sessions are often useful and can be arranged as needed.
Accommodation costs are separate. Upon successful application to attend a retreat, you will be sent suggestions for suitable accommodation near Coffs Harbour airport in Sawtell or Coffs Harbour for you to arrange and book, along with your flights or other transport arrangements.
Deposit & refunds
Once you have been accepted to attend and dates are agreed upon, a non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to secure your place. The balance of $1090 is required 2 weeks prior to the commencement of your retreat. No refunds will be given after this time however, should you be unable to attend your booked retreat due to unanticipated circumstances, Mandy will do her best to work with you to reschedule. Follow-up online sessions may be arranged as required at the standard couples counselling fee.
In the unlikely event that Dr Mandy Peyton is unable to attend the retreat you have booked due to unforeseen circumstances, a full refund of your retreat fees will be made. Dr Peyton is however not liable for costs incurred by you due transportation and accommodation bookings made.