What is the difference between Relationship Intensives and Marathon Therapy?

Relationship Intensives cram a month of sessions into a one day session – to fast track the healing connection process – often used for clients starting therapy in a lot of distress, or simply eager to get things underway faster.

​Marathon Therapy takes 2-5 days to focus on resolving a key specified issue for a couple – often used for couples dealing with affairs

How do I decide if this is right for us?
For both intensive and marathon sessions the key criteria is both parties being willing and engaged.  If you are exploring the possibility of how therapy might help then book a normal length session.

Intensives and Marathon sessions are not suitable where there is active addiction; ongoing affair; serious mental health issues or domestic violence.

​Relational Intensive vs. ​Marathon Therapy

Relationship Intensives are designed to massively fast track the healing and connection process for couples.  They can be used for almost any issue a couple experiences. They to do in a day or two what otherwise might take a couple of months in therapy.  They jump start the therapy process, often shifting couples quickly into a more connected, loving space making the whole therapy process more enjoyable and effective.  They can also be good for couples at a tipping point trying to decide whether to stay or go.

Marathon Therapy is designed to create a series of active therapeutic change events for committed and engaged couples.  Essentially couples come in with clearly clarified goals and expectations.  A large enough space of time is created to trigger emotional and biochemical changes.  Marathon sessions are typically preceded by some assessment questionaires and individual home preparation work.  Follow up work and strategies are typically assigned.

Typical Intensive Clients

  • Primarily Communication/Connection Issues
  • Shared commitment to the relationship despite problems
  • Keen to see a real change – fast
  • Less flexible workplaces​​ – hard to get away for sessions e.g. doctors, builders
Typical Marathon clients

  • Overseas Client, Living out of Auckland
  • A focused issue of contention or very longstanding disconnection pattern
  • Affair Recovery

Are Intensives and Marathon Therapy sessions effective?​
Intensive and Marathon interventions are scientifically validated as an effective and supportive way to achieve significant relational gains in a short period of time. When accompanied by appropriate follow up activity they have been shown to be extremely effective at shortening the length of therapy required, the overall cost, and increasing the experienced level of connection between the couple.

Why do Intensives work?
Typically couples approach therapy with problems that have been existing for a long time.  Gottman’s research suggest couples wait on average over 6 years before seeking help.  Often couples approach therapy as a resort of desperation just before divorce.  So trying to address problems that existed for years (and sometimes decades) in a short therapy hour once a week is often not sufficient. Additionally the therapist needs to determine what the key issues are this takes time. Typically the first 3-4 sessions are largely assessment, engagement and basic psychological education.  Intensives allow these first activities to be done immediately and to then move straight in targeted change interventions.

Why do Marathon’s work?
Engaged couples with a defined purpose have a certain amount of processing work to be done.  Mindful therapy triggers a series of neurological and biochemical changes in the brain.  Therapy intentionally engages this state in order to create lasting changes in the brain.  Once in this more receptive state it is possible to do a little therapeutic work or a lot.  Therapeutic changes builds incrementally and in a marathon session instead of having weeks between each incremental change much bigger steps forward are possible.

PictureCosts and Benefits of Intensives or Marathons
This is something individual for each couple and is the first bit of pre-session homework.  Click on the attached picture to download the full -sized pdf and do your own cost benefit analysis for an intensive, marathon, or rescue session.  Having a sense of if this is right for you is an important part of successful treatment.  If you end up not sure, simply book a normal session.

I’m worried I (or my partner) will be overwhelmed
Clients are often worried that it will feel overwhelming but typically this is not the case.  Unlike couples workshops there is complete privacy and all sessions are individually tailored to your needs and situation. For many couples simply booking a day or two off work is easier than multiple shorter appointments.  We take breaks for rests, stretching, food and bathroom breaks.  It will be a full day and you will probably be tired at the end of the day however resolving issues more thoroughly tends to lead to strong feelings of satisfaction – a job well done.


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​Who offers the intensives
Steven, the Director of Relate, more about Steven

How do I book?
Email or call us to schedule a time


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