Dawn Wiggins is a psychotherapist whose work is known around the world. Dawn also hosts a diverse and ever-growing online community which allows her to write and speak internationally. She specializes in relationships: salvaging them, healing from them, and cultivating the most important relationship with one's self. She has local offices in both Palm Beach and Monroe County, Florida.
Dawn uses a holistic approach to psychotherapy to better help her patients in their growth and healing. In 2017, Dawn extended her expertise as a therapeut by creating an exclusive couples retreat. That has proven to be remarkably successful. We sat down with Dawn recently to learn more about this powerful opportunity.
Get to Know Dawn Wiggins, More Than a Therapist
You have a lot of experiences as a marriage and couples therapist. What makes your approach unique?
I’m one hundred percent in this with my patients! I know without a doubt that there is a solution to every problem, you simply have to be willing to discover it. I committed a long time ago to practicing what I teach and being completely transparent with my therapy clients. The marriage and couples therapy that I provide comes from a place of compassion and understanding. And from my personal growth and experiences in similar areas. For example, I experienced the pain of watching my parents go through their divorce and then ultimately experiencing a divorce later in life. I value being able to relate to my therapy patients during their healing. And I honestly believe that it contributes to my ability to help my clients overcome their struggles. I also firmly believe that mind and body are connected. And I apply this in my holistic therapy approach. Understanding the connection between the two supercharges the results for my clients.
You founded this couples-intensive retreat. How is this experience different and productive for your patients?
I host this couples retreat in the beautiful Florida Keys. It is a unique opportunity for partners to come together for three powerful days. The therapy focus is on getting to the root of the problems they’re having. And then utilize structured couples activities to develop solutions. I wrap up the intensive couples retreat by building a support plan for continued healing moving forward. After completing the couples retreat, clients walk away with confidence and a robust set of tools to assist them on their healing journey. Traditional couples therapy sessions, in office, are still vital to growth and recovery. But the couples who can immerse themselves in an intensive experience like my Florida couples retreat can kick their healing process into high-gear. I also lean heavily into utilizing EMDR techniques, which is a cutting edge approach to intensive couples retreats.
What is EMDR, and how is this approach helpful to your patients?
EMDR is the most effective treatment technique therapists have for trauma. Our senses store memory, and when someone experiences a trauma, it can disrupt sensory growth. A traumatic experience can also interrupt the ability to trust. This hesitation to trust can negatively affect your relationship and ability to trust your partner. Trust is an essential element of a healthy marriage. People often bring their trust issues into a new relationship, from prior experiences. I find that when you first focus on rebuilding the broken developmental process in the individual, it allows for healthier and more long-lasting healing within the couple and how they’re relating to each other.
Your Florida couples retreat is exclusive with you only accepting 6 couples per year! What can couples expect during their 3 day retreat with you?
Yes! It ends up being a memorable and meaningful retreat experience for the couples who attend. Each retreat day’s activities take place in my office and the surrounding outdoors. Therapy sessions are from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. The first day of the intensive couples retreat is all about identifying underlying individual issues that are affecting the relationship. On the second retreat day, we work on treating the problems identified. And then, on the final day, fine-tune their gains and wrap up with developing a plan for moving forward. During each of the three retreat days, I implement a variety of structured couples activities and therapy sessions. All targeted towards the unique needs of the couple and individuals. My therapy techniques are focused on helping clients open up and let down their guard ranging from humor, writing, music, adventure, movement, and meditation. And all are carefully chosen based on the needs of the couple and what’s going on in the room at that moment.
You mentioned continued therapy as part of the plan development on day three. Can you elaborate on this?
My couples-intensive retreat is an essential and meaningful stepping-stone in the healing process. And, while incredibly useful to make quick gains, consistent practice is key to long term success. It’s vital that a plan for follow-up become part of the healing structure. How much follow-up therapy is needed will be dependent on individual situations. My local couples can continue treatment in office with me, and I also offer virtual video sessions for my long-distance couples.
How can interested couples sign up for the retreat?
Interested couples can contact my office by phone at 561-221-5575. Or send an email to email@example.com to reserve their spot for my intensive Florida couples retreat. Remember, I only accept 6 couples per year, so space fills up ultra-fast!
In closing, what's one piece of advice you can give to couples who are considering couples therapy or a couples retreat?
Don’t put it off! When you and your partner conclude that couples therapy could be useful, don’t wait to do it. People tend to make excuses for why they don’t have time for or don’t need to attend therapy. The number one excuse is, "We can figure this out on our own." Followed by a close number two of, "We don’t have the time or money for therapy." The latter is given often by parents of young children. The fact of the matter is, couples who attend a retreat like mine earlier on in their relationship are shown to have a lower chance of divorce than those that don't.
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