The kind words on this page were mostly gathered from the anonymous evaluations that participants completed at the conclusion of a Hold Me Tight® Retreat. There are a few others that were sent to me, unsolicited, in an email or some other kind of communication.

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Thank you for creating a safe, supportive environment and for your skilled facilitation. Video clips and music were great additions to the material. Just enough group participation.

retreat participant, 2012

It was quite amazing. I learned a lot about myself and my partner and our relationship.

retreat participant, 2012

We found the retreat really helpful as a way to enhance and solidify the work that we had been doing in our EFT-based couples therapy for several months before the retreat.

The retreat complemented our couples therapy work by clearly laying out the background principles and tenets of EFT therapy in a concrete and condensed manner (through the academic research, videos, the workbook and individual exercises). We learned steps and tools to break the negative cycle we often find ourselves in. We learned repair. We learned to build a more secure attachment with each other.

Participating in the retreat after having already started couples therapy made us feel like we were able to get a lot from the retreat. Continuing on with couples therapy afterwards enabled us to further explore what we had uncovered in the retreat.

Being at the retreat with other couples at all stages of their relationship and ages, as well as watching the videos of other couples, helped us to see how similar we are to others. We wouldn’t have gotten this without the group setting and video presentations, so that was great for us as well. We are not alone! That makes us appreciate each other and our relationship even more.

retreat participant, also in EFT couple’s therapy

You know…good facilitators like you empower others to take risks and this is what I am doing now!!! I have really enjoyed the retreat and we both benefited from it immensely, both personally and professionally. Since then, I have immersed more and more in EFT and enjoy every minute of it.

EFT therapist, retreat participant, Ontario

There were couples here at all stages in their relationship and I think they all benefited, no matter what stage of the relationship they were in. We didn’t really get to know what everyone’s problems were (thank goodness!), but enough was said, so that I could tell it was pretty good for everyone.

retreat participant, 2013
I appreciated the opportunity to be with my partner and learn together and then apply it in real time. Thank you for providing this retreat. I like your gentle approach. You have a calming voice. Obviously people benefited.
retreat participant, 2012
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When you started talking about the “science” behind love I thought at first you were ridiculous. But you did a good job. And now that I think about it, why shouldn’t scientists study love. They study everything else. Anyway it was my wife’s idea to come, but I am glad I was here. You could be a science teacher.
Retreat participant
We’ve spent many hours in couples therapy. This was so much better. Going back and forth between the group and our couple stations worked better than therapy for us and you made sure we had lots of time in our couple stations. Thanks a lot.
retreat participant
You will probably learn something about your partner that you didn’t know before. I did. And it helped me find the connection again that was somewhat lost.
retreat participant
My wife and I participated in the Couples In Step weekend, upon the suggestion of our adoption worker. Although I was skeptical coming in, I was thankful on the way out.

My wife and I had thought we had previously had every possible conversation about our relationship before this weekend (been married many years), but the weekend brought out one or two that were quite worthwhile.

It is the whole environment of the retreat which provides a wonderful backdrop of openness, safety, willingness to speak and be spoken to both by the moderators, your partner, and the other participants.

We enjoyed the other participants as much as anything about the weekend; their views, their openness, and their willingness to be frank and be there for each other. We found ourselves missing the other couples we had met, the town where it was held, and even the place we stayed. Everything had a way of knitting itself into the memory and lingering thoughts.We even found ourselves discussing the subject matter of the seminars and discussions in the following weeks.

In retrospect I can see that for couples planning to marry this would be a very beneficial event to attend. They’ll benefit from those who have experienced a lot of what they will experience over the coming years. I highly recommend this retreat as a way to connect. You’ll also find others with similar experiences.

Attachment is the key to relationships, as we have learned both in the world of adoption and the world of marriage.

retreat participant, an adoptive parent
Participating in a Hold Me Tight® weekend retreat is the greatest gift a couple can give to their relationship. Irene’s calm, sensitive and respectful guidance allowed my husband and I to connect on a deep level which I had been longing for. Her Hold Me Tight® retreat helped us fall in love all over again.
retreat participant, Ontario
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I remembered how much I love my partner and that was a long time coming. Although I was already familiar with EFT, being able to focus on its principles for an entire weekend was invaluable.

retreat participant, northern Ontario
This was an amazing weekend and I wish we would have known about this a lot sooner!
retreat participant, Eastern Ontario
This was an amazing weekend and I wish we wWe found the whole retreat very helpful in bringing us closer together. Glad there was a lot of time for us to really get our negative “dance” in a safe environment. The different roving therapists were great too. I thought it wouldn’t work very well to have all the different therapists stop by, but it did!
retreat participant, Manitoba
Transformational weekend for us. Thank you. You had a great choice of songs and video clips to illustrate concepts. You’re examples were real. Thanks for telling us a bit about yourself too. That made it all pretty real. I like your line about how we’re all turkeys swimming in the same soup.
retreat participant, 2012
If I were to tell someone else about this retreat, I’d tell them there is enough structure and safety so that you’ll be able to go deep into your relationship and learn more about your use then you ever thought possible.
retreat participant, 2014
I had a real breakthrough with my husband. I felt like he understood me for the first time. It was very difficult but the results feel really positive to me. I think our marriage might last. We’re going to look for an EFT therapist in our area, or else we’re going to figure out how to come and see you or one of the roving therapists who were there.
retreat participant, 2013
The Couples Retreat helps a couple to understand and apply the practices of therapy to their interactions. Real life and the therapy office can sometimes seem like two different realities, but the Retreat brings these together, giving you the structure and time to work on your relationship.

At the Couples Retreat, you ‘stay in the conversation’, you remain respectful with each other, and you process though these talks, to open up new understandings about your partner.

Methodically, the Retreat is structured from identifying and understanding your Negative Cycle, creating “safe” and supportive conversations, to tackling “the raw spots”. This is Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, slowed down to let you work through the stages, to press rewind, and rewind again, until you start connecting in a meaningful way. It works. It works when couple therapy may not have worked, with real life getting in the way.

It is not a walk in the park, but when do you give as much attention to something you value? If you love him/her, he or she is worth it.

“…not a walk in the park, but…” , Western Ontario
I found the retreat refreshing. One thing I’ve learned over the 22 years we’ve been married is how important it is to communicate, not too many couples do or know how to express themselves properly. It’s definitely a wonderful course for newly weds to consider. It also brought home the fact that perhaps without even realizing it, we start to take the other person for granted, and through communication it can be avoided. I would definitely recommend this course to any couple in trouble or not. Thank-you Irene!
retreat participant, Central Ontario

I liked watching the couples on the videos show us how to figure out our problems by talking about their relationship.

retreat participant, 2013
I learned things about my partner that have never been mentioned before. That was amazingly helpful.
retreat participant, 2012
Very worthwhile. Challenging, but worth it. Having the support of the guided conversations was most helpful. Seeing and hearing other people’s experiences helped too.
retreat participant
I feel I connected with my wife for the first time in a very long, long time. Thank you. I highly recommend this to others. Go!
retreat participant, 2013

It was so nice that you took the pressure off us to socialize and mingle. That was great for us. Thank you. For those who did want to mingle, you made that possible too. That was nice for them.This experiential opportunity greatly exceeded
-reading the Hold Me Tight® book
-listening to the audio book
-training with Sue Johnson herself

therapist, retreat participant, 2013
…the event was worthwhile, really. I still think about it.
retreat participant
With the way this weekend was set up, my partner was able to go “deeper” and that helped me feel more safe to go there too. I thought starting with the neuroscience research and it’s link to emotions was helpful. You are very well organized. This weekend is a good investment.
retreat participant, 2013
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There was a very good balance between instruction and time for us to practice what we were learning. I also felt you were very respectful of privacy and people’s sensitivities.
retreat participant, 2014
To be perfectly honest I was dead set against coming here, but this weekend has given me hope again for us.
retreat participant, Alberta
I really related to the video clips. The chunking up between the group and couple time was good. It was hard to stay indoors all weekend, I am not used to that, but thanks for the tune-up, you helped us all immeasurably.
retreat participant
Thanks very much. You’ve provided many tools to help with our “deadly silences”. I also understand now that a lot of our problems might be manifestations of my parents “deadly silences.” I want that to change and you’ve given us hope that it can.
retreat participant, New York
This was a very important and very helpful weekend for us and our marriage. It was more helpful than one would think.
retreat participant, 2013
I really liked the atmosphere in this church setting. I loved the big windows and how we could look outside. Even though we didn’t get to know others that much, it felt really good that there were others present for the same reason.
retreat participant, 2013
Your Couples In Step retreat and counseling has helped my husband and me to safely navigate through the troubles in our relationship. Before we met with you the problems in our marriage seemed insurmountable, but now thanks to your guidance, we’re forging stronger bonds and a more solid foundation – today we have renewed hope for our future together.

Neither of us wanted our marriage to fail. Since we’d never sought help before, we weren’t sure how effective counseling would be for us, but once we agreed to try it, we entered into therapy eager to do the work.

Luckily, we found you. Our efforts were richly rewarded! Right off the bat, we saw evidence that you were truly committed to our success. You took time for in depth investigation into our relationship dynamic.

We felt safe and engaged in the entire process. Your patient clear-headed approach helped us to communicate and connect – fostering a deeper empathy. Each of us was able to address our issues in a productive and loving manner in order to reach a better understanding.

The ‘homework’ you assigned reinforced all that we’d learned in session and later in the retreat. It made us feel like we were getting help every single day. Our relationship became the top priority. We were better equipped to recognize destructive patterns that had a negative impact on our love for each other and we worked hard to make positive changes.

Our marriage is a work-in-progress that’s headed in the right direction now thanks to the time we’ve spent working with you. So much of what we learned will resonate for years to come and we have the tools necessary to face each new challenge. My husband and I will wholeheartedly recommend you to any couple seeking to enrich their relationship.

therapy first, retreat later, Ontario
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Nearly Every Couple Faces Challenges

Sometimes the difficulties can get so over whelming they can make both of you feel helpless. In our stress-filled, anxiety-driven lives it helps to talk with a professional about your relationship. Couples In Step offers a variety of services to help couples repair and revive their relationship: in-person counselling, on-line counselling, 3-day intensive couples counselling for couples in crisis, weekend couples retreats, discernment counselling for couples where one, or both of you, are uncertain about continuing the relationship.