Family Therapy Vacations
Intensive Therapy Retreats for Couples & Families

Coastal Maine & Nicaragua

A Different Approach to Help Couples and Families Heal and Strengthen Relationships
Letter from the Program Founder and Director

Dear Perspective Clients,

Your visit to our site suggests that you are struggling in some important aspect of your family or relational life.  In many respects these moments are as difficult as they are unavoidable and the feelings of powerlessness and sadness in our efforts to heal troubled bonds can cast a broad shadow on the quality of our lives.  Extensive research over the past twenty years tells us that healing of broken relationships is not so much about solving conflict as it is about reopening ourselves to emotional connection. Whether between partners, spouses, parents & children or extended family this process is largely dependent upon the dropping of defenses and embracing emotional vulnerability to allow for new beginnings and seeing ourselves and our loved ones as lovable, yet vulnerable individuals.

As a clinician who has worked with couples and families in a wide range of inpatient and outpatient settings I believe in the potential for thoughtful intervention to move relationships towards healing.  This said I have also seen how it is often difficult to make real relational change in the context of busy lives, established patterns, infrequent sessions and settings that feel more clinical than real. It was in response to these factors that we developed our Maine and Nicaragua intensive couples and family clinical retreats.  Having run these programs for over eight years, every year  I am more excited and proud of the unique opportunity we are providing to help couples and families reconnect through the integration of intensive attachment focused therapy with a wonderful vacation. The opportunity to see one another in a new light through the therapy and then to have fun together on a great vacation is a powerful combination.

If after reviewing our website you have questions or interest in scheduling a telephone or Skype interview to help you and us assess the fit between your needs and our programs please be in touch. In the we know individuals contacting us are often in a very difficult spot we attempt to respond to all contacts within several hours.

Please let us know if we can help,

John Stewart, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Assistent Clinical Professor
Department of Psychiatry
Tufts Medical School

Set in Maine and Nicaragua our 
therapy vacation seven day treatment model 
offers a unique opportunity for couples and families seeking to find, or restore happy and mutually supportive relationships.  Operating outside of a traditional clinical setting this model centers on emotional reconnection, improved communication and the accessing of forgiveness and acceptance.

This program has proven to be an exceptional option for busy high profile individuals needing sanctuary, privacy and focused intensity to address complicated and troubling family issues. 

For further information on retreats contact:    or 207-712-4869 / 617-500-5133

Surrounded by the extraordinary natural beauty of the Maine coast, or South Pacific Nicaragua couples and families find avenues for new 
beginnings to access in the context of their everyday lives, or more traditional therapies.  Our Maine location (available June to Sept) offers stay within a variety of coastal properties, or participation in the program while aboard a 39' Sailing catamaran exploring Casco Bay (recommended).
  Our Nicaragua location offers stay within a luxury ocean front villa in a region offering mile high volcanoes, Howler monkeys, bird watching, excellent surfing, true Latin culture and wonderful beach front restaurants and bars.

Both of these settings allow for the combination of a wonderful vacation with opportunity for intensive clinical work, directed by senior clinicians skilled in helping clients let go of old hurts and ingrained struggles that have eroded the quality of relational connections.

Maine Options

Sailing Adventure

39' X 20' Sailing Catamaran captained by an highly experienced sailor and marine/outdoor educator. Food and cooking services are provided.  This boat can handle up to a family of eight. Each day involves 2 1/2 to 3 hours of sailing in the calm inner waters of the bay traveling between developed and undeveloped islands for passage ashore and spending the night in a calm harbor.  Activities can include: fishing, swimming, seal and whale watching, visiting historic sites, kayaking, snorkeling, going ashore to island restaurants (with or without the kids), etc.   Up to 8 passengers.
(see Maine & Destination page for more info)

Coastal cottage

Family Property

Nicaragua Option

Eco-luxury Villa

Please note: Maine options opening in June 2013

Our treatment model:

Our intensive retreat model is influenced by both Attachment Focused Therapy 
(also known as Emotionally Focused Therapy and Attachment Focused Family Therapy) and Integrative Couples Therapy.  This model focuses on supporting family members in reconnecting through a highly poignant process of identifying destructive patterns of interaction and sharing the deep sense of sadness and vulnerability associated with emotional estrangement.  In the context of dealing with deep hurts, feelings of abandonment and aloneness the opportunity for the healing of broken relationships unfolds.  This model does not focus on issues such as poor communication without first supporting couples and/or families in reconnecting emotionally.  In establishing a stronger more caring and gentle connection, work on such issues as communication and conflict resolution become attainable and sustainable.

The individual therapy provided to each participant in the program is largely focused on issues of attachment and is informed by the work of clinicians such as Dan Siegel, Daniel Hughes, and H Kohut.

Reviews by Past Retreat Attendees

We have been in therapy on two prior occasions only to have the benefits last about as long as the therapy session.  My husband would not attend another effort at therapy even though we were barely even friends, but agreed to this program because my he thought of it as a vacation.  What we found was so much more than we ever expected.  Dr. Stewart and Jan were truly amazing in their ability to help us move beyond our petty struggles and to address and help heal the deep sense of sadness and isolation which we were both feeling.   This experience really did give us a sense of a new beginning as well as one of the best vacations we have ever had.”

“This is a different way to do therapy, it is intense, yet non- threatening and almost fun largely due to Dr. S’s sense of humor and the amazing offerings of this region.   I have never felt so safe and comfortable while at the same time looking so deeply and honestly at our relationship and myself.  We both left feeling ready to stop the old destructive dances and get on with being friends and for the first time in a while lovers.”

“I hate marital therapy, I mean I really hate marital therapy, I’ve been in therapy with my wife forever and it usually just makes me feel worse – but somehow this wasn’t that bad and there is no question that my wife and I left the Nicaragua program in a much better place than when we arrived.    It was 3 months ago that we were in Nicaragua and things remain good with us.  Thanks”

“We came to this program as a family struggling with almost every part of what it is to be a family.  Between my husband and myself and our two teenage children we found a real sense of reconnection and a new start.   The work in therapy was sometimes difficult but we all felt safe and well understood and doors to forgiveness opened.   The therapy sessiosn were actually kind of fun even though often very poignant."

“We really weren’t certain what we were getting ourselves into when we made a commitment to the Nicaragua program, but out of desperation and a sense that nothing else has worked and that we were on the verge of splitting up after 25 years we said, What the Hell.   I cannot express my depth of gratitude in having stumbled onto this program and Dr. Stewart.  He and Jan are a wonderful team bringing compassion, wisdom, humor and humanity to their work.  I am not quit certain how they did it but they brought my wife and I to a very different place over the seven days in paradise.”

“Thanks so much for all that you gave us – we came here on the verge of divorce and left feeling closer than we have in years.  I am not certain what happened but somehow with John and Jan’s help we stopped doing what we always seemed to do to each other.  Thanks for helping us not give up on one another and figuring out how to trust and have fun again.  We would have never come to Nicaragua without this opportunity and what a loss that would have been – this place is magical.”

     Areas of Retreat Specialization

  • Couples struggling with lack of intimacy (sexual & emotional)
  • Families with children with special needs
  • Couples recovering from infidelity
  • Families recovering from a loss
  • Couples negatively impacted by distinct perspectives on parenting
  • Post divorce adjustment to single parenting
  • Marriages considering divorce
  • Relationships with adult children
  • Facilitated family reunions

For further information on retreats contact:  Dr. Stewart     phone  (US) -   207-712-4869