What is Marathon Couples Therapy?

Although most of my clients are seen in the traditional 50-minute session in my office, I often conduct therapy in the clients’ own home and/or in multiple sessions. In fact, I have found that a very effective means of treatment is actually to conduct family or couple therapy in marathon sessions. This requires scheduling 10 to 18 hours of work over a two or three day period. This method is particularly useful to help families breakout of a stalemate or work through an impasse in their relationship in order for members to move forward in their lives — together or separately as the case may be. Marathon sessions are often a very practical alternative whenever family members live far apart and/or live far from my office. For several years, I have co-conducted such marathons along with my colleague, Dr. Bill Forisha, in San Francisco, California, Seattle, Washington, Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary.

About Mindful Marriage Marathons

There are three parts to an intimate relationship — me, you, and us. Most marital problems develop over time. Partners get so busy with their individual lives and/or their parental responsibilities that they neglect the “us” until the consequences of neglect create pain for the “me” and/or the “you”. Then one or both partners rings the alarm bell and decides to either abandon ship or call damage control. Those that simply abandon ship usually find themselves in deep water and encircled by legal sharks. Those that seek marital therapy begin a long, slow, painful, and unpredictable process of finally becoming mindful of that which they have been neglecting.

Mindful Marriage Marathons are conducted by a co-therapy team in two or three consecutive days in sessions lasting 5 to 7 hours in length each day. Marathon therapy selectively draws from a wide range of established methods; in fact, co-therapists utilize many of the same methods that have been proven by researchers to be relatively successful in on-going traditional 50-minute sessions (usually held weekly for several months to a year or even more). Mindful Marriage Marathons provide an alternative — one that invites a couple to focus exclusively and intensely on their marital relationship for a specified amount of concentrated time. In doing so, each marathon session essentially addresses all three of the scenarios described above by:

Empowering partners to repair minor damages and to restore and maintain a balanced, mindful, and sustainable approach to the care of self, other, and their relationship;

Interrupting the cycle of mistrust, anger, and hurt — even as the cycle has begun to pick up speed and spin out of control — by applying an intense therapeutic “braking” experience, one that aims to restore mutual respect of self and other, even as the relationship itself may begin to undergo careful or mindful restructuring;

Providing a quick start to what might become a longer therapeutic process — in order to provide immediate emotional safety for each partner, non-medicated (emotional) pain management, problem identification, and initial, if not yet full, problem resolution.


  © 2014-2016 Dr. Ann Forisha Thiel