Marathon therapy

Marathon Couples Therapy

A few couples have told John Gottman that all they do in therapy is fight, it takes them the rest of the week to recover, and then they come back in a week and fight again. He has since moved to do only what he refers to as marathon therapy. These are sometimes known as therapy intensives and are not offered in many places for marriage counseling in Columbus, Ohio. Cardinal Point Counseling is pleased to offer couples marathon counseling for whom it makes sense.

You may not want weekly or every other week sessions when studies show on average, it may take you 3-6 months (or longer) to achieve lasting benefits. Many couples who schedule individual sessions are in a hurry to just tackle their issues right away, but the reality is that it can take 3-4 sessions to understand what the main issues are (even for couples who think they know). Julie Gottman gives the analogy of going to a doctor with a hurt leg and demanding a cortisone shot. Yes, that could fix the pain, but if you have a fracture, tear, or blood clot, things could get a whole lot worse. The intent is to introduce something beyond assessment in each and every session, but the reality is that assessment is needed too. Marathon therapy allows the couple to quickly both receive a thorough assessment and start tackling their issues and goals. Think of it as a combination of counseling and a marriage retreat.

Marathon Therapy is five hours a day, over three consecutive days. Advantages include the following:

  • You get the benefit of building on a lot of momentum. Many couples who schedule individual sessions schedule weekly, every two weeks, or monthly. It can take a long time to see lasting benefits using this type of schedule. Couples go to therapy and walk out feeling great, only to revert to old patterns as soon as they get home.
  • You may need to get through a lot of material quickly if your relationship or marriage is in trouble. This type of therapy may be especially helpful if there has been a recent affair.
  • You get a lot of practice using skills like improved communication, building shared meaning, and building your friendship, among many others.
  • It may be more convenient to take a few days and “knock it out”, as opposed to scheduling multiple appointments. Those who drive further may prefer this approach as there are fewer trips.
  • If you are truly committed to couples counseling and want to make sure you stick it through, this is a great way to do so. Some couples see good progress in individual sessions, get busy, and just forget to complete the work they started.

While we aren’t aware of another program in Columbus, Ohio or anywhere in Ohio that offers the same service, large cities across the country have this type of offering. As mentioned, this is the only type of therapy John Gottman of the Gottman Institute will do.

Intensive Couples Counseling Objections

Marathon therapy marriage counseling or couples counseling is not for everybody. It does require a bigger upfront commitment than scheduling individual sessions and monitoring if you want to continue. If both members of a couple aren’t excited about this format, it’s probably not the best approach for you. Some couples prefer time to work on things in between sessions during the week (although most go home and back to their normal patterns until they have had enough practice in couples therapy). Some couples may get overwhelmed by the intensity of this format (it’s no more intense than individual sessions and there is plenty of fun, just a longer duration in a shorter time). Some couples want more time to process things in between sessions.

For couples who want to see the most rapid change, are willing to make a commitment to work with a well-trained counselor, and have good results from the free initial videoconference consultation, this may be exactly what you need. The initial 15-minute consultation is important to see if you feel comfortable with your therapist, have the opportunity to ask questions, and see if there is mutual agreement that this type of marathon couples therapy should proceed.

Common Questions

What can we expect during marathon therapy?

It is individualized to you and your partner’s needs. While various Gottman interventions will be employed, the agenda depends in part on your goals, issues, and hopes for your relationship.

What is the cost?

The cost for the three-day event is $1,750. This is a savings over scheduling 15 individual sessions. While we can’t compete with the Gottman’s, we use their method as a large part of therapy. As a comparison, John and Julie Gottman each charge $15,000 for their three-day marathon therapy.

What is required to sign-up?

Call 614-327-1600. Since this is a commitment, we offer a free 15-minute videoconference or phone consultation to make sure you think this is the right fit for you and that we think it is the right approach for you and the right fit for us. A 50% deposit is required to register.

What is the cancellation policy?

The deposit will be refunded 75% if canceled within one week of the start of your planned marathon. The deposit is non-refundable if canceled within a week of your sessions. In the case of an emergency such as an illness, you may reschedule within the week leading up to your session. Full payment is required by the start of the first session and is non-refundable.

How far ahead does marathon therapy need to be scheduled?

At the time of this writing, approximately 3-4 weeks in advance to get your choice of dates. Then, depending on availability, you may be able to pick any consecutive three days within the workweek.

Are there certain situations that would make a couple a poor fit?

Yes. One is untreated moderate to severe (closer to the severe side) mental illness. If the mental illness has not been addressed, it may need to be tackled first. If the mental illness has been treated through counseling and/or medication, the couple may be fine to attend. Another is if one partner feels pushed into going. While “excited” may be the wrong word, both of you should be excited to improve your relationship and to make the commitment required. An ongoing affair is another reason this would not be appropriate, as you can’t heal with your partner if you are still secretly involved with someone else. Serious domestic violence is another sign that this is not the best starting treatment.

Is there flexibility if we wanted to get through the process on say a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the same week?

It depends on scheduling and availability. This may be an option if you want to be able to have a short break between days. This option may require you to schedule out later than what could be arranged with three consecutive days.

Can marathon couples therapy be conducted online via videoconference?

Yes, although it is recommended that couples try to attend as much in-person as possible. In-person sessions make it easier to play relevant games, review handouts, creates a more personal experience, and is generally more effective. Videoconferencing is available, however, for those who need that option. Clients can videoconference from anywhere in Ohio.

If we travel, is there a nearby place to stay?

Yes. In fact, there are a variety of hotels within walking distance of the office. There are many food and entertainment options within walking distance as well.

Next Steps
Wellness counseling exercise and mental healthHave questions, call 614.327.1600 or contact us


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