Hold Me Tight® – Couples Workshop Retreats – Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph

What is a Couple Retreat?

A Happy CoupleA couple retreat is on the “Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” (Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson). It is a psycho-educational experience offered as an opportunity to focus in for parts of 2-3 days on your relationship through group presentation, individual couple guided dialogue, support from a therapist, video footage of couples working through the conversations, discussion. It is time away to give your relationship a gift.

Hold Me Tight (book cover)Hold Me Tight presents a streamlined version of EFT. It walks the reader through seven conversations that capture the defining moments in a love relationship and instructs how to shape these moments to create a secure and lasting bond. Case histories and exercises in each conversation bring the lessons of EFT to life.  (Sue Johnson)

Distressed Couple


Ideally, you will devote this time away from the distractions and demands of everyday life. It is an educational process, not intensive therapy. If your relationship is in crisis or serious trouble, please discuss with me what your options might be. An intensive private one-couple  focused weekend of therapeutic work might be more appropriate, especially if scheduling is difficult and you need critical intervention and support immediately (or if one partner is ambivalent about continuing the relationship).


The Cost?

Scheduled Hold Me Tight Couple Retreats are in process.  Cost depends on the venue and whether accommodation and meals are included.  If you are interested in attending a Retreat, contact for details.

A Couple Having ProblemsAre there any Contraindications?

  • recent disclosure of an attachment injury (ie. infidelity, breach of trust) or untreated ongoing addiction
  • these situations are best addressed in couple therapy or an intensive weekend of couple therapy
  • one partner is engaged in an active affair

Talking about our Relationship in a Group!?!

The individual couple times are entirely private. There is no sharing or reporting unless you choose to share insights in group sessions. There is something comforting to know that you are experiencing a process of learning along with others even though you may have little or no direct interaction with them!


What if I’m single and I just want to learn and prepare?
Good for you! You’re laying a good foundation for a future relationship.


What if we are already in couple therapy?

Whether your therapist uses Emotionally-Focused Therapy in his/her work, a retreat will support and augment the work you are already doing. If your therapist uses EFT, all the better! If you’ve already read Hold Me Tight, this will bring it to life and give you a focused opportunity as a couple to go through the Seven Conversations.  And the best part is the rest at the end of a day nourishing your relationship!

Older Couple Sleeping

(Hold Me Tight® is a registered trademark of Sue Johnson)

Comments from Hold Me Tight Couples Weekend Participants:

“Intense but worth the investment. Great relationship education. This helped our relationship by helping us see how our past experiences influence our soft spots today and how our negative cycle impacts this.”

“The honesty created by the atmosphere – Everyone should do this, no matter where you are in a relationship. It could positively impact every relationship – not just romantic ones. It impacted our relationship by creating an opening for a safe place to grow together.”

“If you are willing to open up and do the work you will be amazed at the results and the progress your marriage and individual emotional support you will give and receive.”

“This weekend helped me see how our primary emotions and needs are universal to my partner and the greater community. I feel like my partner and I are on the same page now and can follow skills/steps to really let each other know how we are feeling and move forward.”

“An intense 2 days. A new beginning.”

“To learn to be open about yourself. It’s a fast, tough weekend of soul searching and team building. Be prepared for a difficult emotional roller coaster. I’ve learned to monitor our cycle, and that it’s the enemy, not my spouse.”

“It changed the course of where we were headed. It transformed us for the better. Thank you, Mary.”

“Be open to learning and you may be amazed. Very enlightening and put us on track. The weekend was infused with a good balance of humour, seriousness, gentleness and support. Everyone should invest in their relationship this way. A life changer for us. Thank you!”

“Following the couples was highly valuable. Enjoyed the humourous clips to help me shift out of big feelings. The facilitator was warm, inviting, very clear, nice pacing…I would say any couple would benefit from this program, and that some prior EFT work would be highly valuable.”

“This workshop was very helpful and I learned a lot about myself and my husband. We have a long road to go but baby steps first. I am not sure if we can carry this out at home but we will be contacting an EFT therapist in our area to help us through. I am hopeful and will do my best to try to repair the damage that’s been done. The videos were great and helpful and speaking to the other couples made me feel that we are not alone. Mary’s talks were amazing. The videos watching couples go through the conversations helped me to understand my husband so much more.”

“Understanding that only when I connect emotionally will my relationship grow and survive.”

“That is one of the most, I should say the most powerful way of getting out of our bad connection and replace it with a positive one. Step by step, each time it becomes easier and our relationship becomes richer and safer.”

“Guidance, structure, building blocks in which to discuss our own feelings in a safe space.”

“The experience is valuable and is intended to serve as skill acquired to continue to support couples as they move to deepen their bond.”

“It would help anyone, go early (don’t wait till there’s too much pain).”

“Excellent way to learn to effectively communicate with your significant other, understanding your fear and your wife’s.”

“Just do it. It will make your relationship better.”

“I believe it is so much about ‘tuning’ and the level of pain someone is in. I know discovering ‘attachment styles’ or ‘injuries’ changed me. I started to be able to see past the pain – just a little bit. I felt actual hope for the first time. And that is shocking because all I saw was divorce. I know I am on the right path finally.”

“Relationship Education 101 – excellent for all relationships at any stage of despair.”

“The idea that anger is a secondary emotion that covers a more fundamental emotion. It helps me to understand that, when my partner is angry at me, I’m not failing him as much as it may seem. And when I get angry, there is something I’m insecure about in my attachment bond.”

“Do it! EFT is a great tool and the workshop is run by great, non-judgemental people.”

“Mary knows her stuff. Great at holding space!”

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“I would recommend this workshop highly to anyone.  I would say it set up a good foundation and provided tools to begin a healthy process of change and ‘recovery’.”

 The “Forgiving Injuries” conversation – putting the elephants between us and discussing them.”

 “Excellent, really helped us get reconnected.”

 Most helpful?  “Reaching out to Mary when in distress – you were clear, calm and caring.  Thank you.”

 Facilitator?  “Calming, peaceful, wealth of wisdom.  GRATEFUL to have found/reached out to Mary.”

 “I would say ‘be open’, ‘be patient’, ‘trust the process’.  I came here with my husband full of fear, doubt and anxiety.  I’m leaving feeling more safe than I have felt in a long time.  At first it was a bit intimidating however once you realize and accept everyone is here wanting/needing to change or find another way to speak and connect with their partner, a sense of safety and peace sets in. “

 “How did this affect my/our relationship?  It provided us with a new way of thinking, new tools and dialogues, examples of how other couples with similar issues found a deeper way of connecting. We didn’t feel alone.  We felt safe dealing with such sensitive and toxic issues.  We are both leaving with a sense of safety, calmness and hope for OUR future.  A future with deeper understanding and connection.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

 “This weekend gave us the time to focus on each other and deal with what really matters.  It’s like a rebirth of our relationship.  We can set goals and we are now aware of each other’s fears and hurts.  Our children will benefit from the tools we have gained to work out a more loving relationship.”

 What was most helpful?  “The ability to clear clutter and get down to the source/heart of the issue.  Not the surface/cycle stuff.”

 “How safe I felt throughout the workshop.  The pace was perfect, not too fast/too much, not too little.  Mary doesn’t have doubts about the content or what’s really important – very trustworthy presenter – very impressed with her presence, knowledge and caring.”

 “I often found myself stuck.  Using the assistants made all the difference.  Helped me to clear the road block. “

 Facilitator?  “Soft spoken and had my attention.  The perfect speed for the high sensitivity of the subject.”

 Roving therapists?  “Made all the difference.  I needed to know we were progressing so the check-in was necessary.”

 What to say to other couples?  “That they should just do it.   Put fear/doubt aside and jump in with both feet.  It will change you.  It will give you the clarity you desire – the most unexpected kind.  You’ll feel the connection again.  It’s worth it!”

 “Having a therapist available to help us move forward when we got stuck.”

 “Mary really ‘gets it’  – without saying a lot she was able to help us move to the next deeper level and feel safe together.”

 “I didn’t realize how scared I was, how unsafe I was feeling.  Not only did I discover that but I learned how to acknowledge it, share it with my partner and move closer to him instead of running away – which I didn’t even realize I was doing!”

 “It will help you get unstuck and connected.  Do it!”

 “Discovering a couple in the DVD’s that mirrored us.  It validated the feelings that one dismisses as silly.”

 “I would recommend anyone taking at least a few sessions privately first to stop construction on the walls and break down some barriers.”

 “We moved from wondering about the future or if to, I think, finding comfort that we will figure this out and will end up happily ever after.”

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“The weekend was invaluable and I would recommend it wholeheartedly. The workshop opened a lot of doors in our relationship and helped us connect in ways we never had before and probably wouldn’t have without the structure and support of the workshop. I learned an incredible amount about myself and my partner and the deeper needs and fears underlying our conflict. I am also going away with some new skills for handling difficulties and recurring patterns. Overall, the workshop greatly deepened and strengthened our relationship.”

 “Be open to each other, the group and the facilitators. Do not be afraid to show your deeper emotions – fear and anger are o.k. We are all afraid of being abandoned, but we show that fear in different ways.”

 “Understanding the “Demon Dialogues” and how that dance plays out helped me to see how my frustration kept me from seeing my partner’s deeper emotions and hurts. The idea of “attachment bonding” between adults was an eye-opener for me and helped explain a lot of my relationship worries.”

 “The facilitator did a great job – had the room captivated at times…”

 The Hold Me Tight weekend is a great vehicle for couples in distress. Even if you hold out little hope, the content and structure of the program gives you a safe way to reach out and begin to reconnect and heal. The workshop really brought home the reading and counselling work we had done previously. It gave us the opportunity to practice working with the material in a safe and supported manner. While we still have work (and practice) to do, it has strengthened our bond and given us further hope for our future together.”

 “Mary has a gift for this – she is able to pull out the threads to unravel the knots…I was reluctant to rehash old wounds once again but I am so very thankful we took this weekend to reaffirm our commitment and connection to each other. I continued to learn more about my partner and more about myself. I am filled with such hope and promise for the future.”

 “I didn’t know what to expect; it turned out to just be easy to be here.   Mary’s genuineness, sincerity, passion and knowledge are instrumental in supporting people and guiding them through their journey.   The experience surpassed my expectations. The participants all contribute – you’re made to feel o.k. despite what you may feel about yourself. The process lays the groundwork and would benefit any couple whether they were in a difficult period or not. The workshop along with our therapy has created an incredibly safe environment for me – where I can open up, find my voice, be heard and find support.”

 “The sharing of others’ experiences, thoughts and feelings was extraordinarily helpful in de-stigmatizing my sense of discouragement.”

 “The common pain-points and patterns are universal. It is both humbling and hopeful to experience this workshop. I particularly appreciated the high level of trust amongst all of the participants. This is a testimony to the professionalism of the therapists.”

 “I have been able to recognize that there are deep issues from my childhood that have not been dealt with that are holding me back in my relationship. This weekend has given me hope that there can be a reconnection with my relationship and where I need to make changes to heal me and the wounds I have created.”

 “This has been a challenging but rewarding weekend that has left me with a feeling of hope and promise. Every married couple deserves to experience this.”

 “The weekend created a positive impact to our relationship. For the first time in almost 3 years I am hopeful and feel positive our relationship will be awesome again!”

 “I would definitely recommend the workshop as I fully believe in the process, content and program. I found it profoundly changed the way I think and relate to my partner. We have found the group atmosphere to be very supportive and encouraged us to speak freely and openly about personal issues. My partner and I made a breakthrough here. And for that we will always remember Mary and Cathy and this excellent experience. It has been one of the scariest, riskiest yet rewarding things I have ever done.”

 “I think this workshop can help any couple as long as they have an open mind. I wish most of my married friends and family could discover what we have discovered. It is a real shame that most couples will just continue what they have been doing.”

 “We reached a level of communication that has not been previously possible in our relationship and this was only possible through Mary creating a safe and non-judgemental space.”

 “Both my wife and I gained a great deal from this. It opened up lines of communication that had been closed for too long.”

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“The weekend was difficult but very helpful. The EFT model provides a framework to assist couples in having the conversations necessary to reconnect and be in tune. It also helps and starts the healing process. The workshop impacted us by helping us to better understand where we’ve come from, why we are feeling the way we are and enabled us to start the difficult conversations needed to move closer to each other.”

“The DVD’s were very helpful, watching people work through things and seeing the parallels in our relationship.”

 “This is a beautiful program. I love that it is emotion based and goes straight to the heart of a loving relationship. I liked that there was modelling of how to have these conversations because I often fumble in trying to articulate such levels because I have no role models.”

 “Mary is a very gentle, wise presence. She offers very quickly a safe environment to do deep work.”

 “I know a few couples that I am close enough to that I would recommend doing this workshop. Having this available in the K-W area is great and there is a need for it!”

 “Focusing on our marriage for 18 hours was very useful and rewarding.   We talked about a lot of things that are difficult to do on our own and hopefully brought out some quality fresh perspectives on past injury. I think we can grow from here.”

 “It puts it on the table in a safe environment. Everything to gain…”

 “I would highly recommend HMT to anyone of my friends needing to find a better way to connect to their lover. It gave examples and direction as to how to connect with my partner – how to recognize when connection is needed.”

 “Mary is amazing. She speaks well and is so understanding! She is a wonderful speaker!”

 “I would say definitely do [the workshop]. It was awesome! I learned a lot about my husband and his needs and wants. I also learned about myself as well and what I need from him and how to ask for it.   Thanks, Mary!”

 “It was an empowering and enlightening experience. We both feel that this HMT weekend has given us a framework to be closer and more in tune with our individual feelings and those of our partner.”

 “I think every couple should take this workshop, hopefully before a relationship trauma. It explains how our past relationship with parents shapes our deeper emotions. It really makes you understand your partner’s real emotions and not just the anger they show you.”

 “The Hold Me Tight weekend has opened my eyes to our feelings, expectations and needs for touch.”

 “The examples of the conversations provided a framework and allowed me to relate to various partners in the videos. The talks with my partner started a much needed dialogue. The facilitator was very good, extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Thank you Mary!”

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