Therapy retreats (good ones) may be more effective than weekly therapy sessions in bringing about personal growth and development. By participating in a high quality, week-long (or longer) therapy retreat, we’re able to access deeper levels of ourselves. We immerse ourselves in the work and we have spaciousness that our everyday lives rarely afford us. There are no distractions—no emails to answer, bills to pay, phone calls to screen or other habitual patterns that interrupt our purpose . . . which is to grow.
Most therapy retreats are a form of group therapy. For example, our Live Conscious Retreats have sixteen to twenty participants who come together, in beautiful locations, for six to eight days. In a world where everything is fast and often superficial—group therapy retreats are slow and deep. They provide time for participants to fully explore themselves. They provide a chance to show, not just talk about, our patterns of behavior, to show our ways of interacting with other people, to show our needs and desires. In a well facilitated therapy retreat the psychological dynamics have room to come to life.
When therapy retreats are long enough—at least four days—participants are able to go through multiple growth cycles. The cycle begins with awareness—awareness of our emotions, thoughts, and patterns of behavior. Because of the spaciousness of longer retreats, we have room to go through the other stages of growth, which are: acceptance, asking, awaiting and acting in a new way. Instead of having our process interrupted, as happens in weekly therapy, we can stay with ourselves. We can pull on a thread of our consciousness and follow that thread all the way to completion. My image is that we find a thread, maybe it’s the corner of our baby blanket, we pull on it (pull on ourselves), we unravel it (unravel ourselves), and then we knit it (knit ourselves) into a more appropriate garment.
In my experience, the most effective form of therapy includes a combination of therapy retreats followed by individual sessions, which are intended to help us integrate new patterns of thinking, communicating, and behaving into our daily lives.