Dr Israel and Cathie Helfand have worked together since 1983 helping individuals, couples, and groups to improve their personal and professional lives, and their relationship satisfaction.

Today the Helfands offer their specialized retreat programs to one couple at a time from all over the world. Each program is tailor-made to the specific goals of the participants, therefore any combination of issues and goals from Marriage Quest with Sexploration are possible.

Each retreat is run by Israel and Cathie Helfand, not a student intern, associate, or junior counselor.

Helfand Retreats is located at the end of a country road in rural Northern Vermont. It is a magical and peaceful place to do personal and transformational work.

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Israel Helfand, PhD, LMFT and Cathie Helfand, MS


Marriage Quest is a 3-day retreat program for couples who are looking for an intensive and powerful approach to marriage counseling, whether they are in a crisis and at a crossroad in their relationship or hoping for a deeper connection together. Many couples see this as a training program; a training experience in teamwork– how to help bring themselves and each other “up”, not drag each other “down”. Some couples come to gather the information they need to make a big decision and to move forward in a positive direction. Others come to improve their relationship, strengthen their bond, and learn new communication skills… while addressing specific goals and concerns.

Here in Vermont retreats are for one couple at a time so that we can focus on specific goals. It is not a group program or workshop. Learn more about what makes for a stronger marriage, and if you or your marriage has what it takes to survive and thrive.

Common topics include:

  • emotional and physical intimacy
  • infidelity and emotional affairs
  • mid-life crisis or exploration
  • communication skills and problem-solving
  • parenting skills or empty-nest adjustment
  • dealing with life transitions
  • compatibility vs. ego and skills

Click to see our Marriage Quest website



Sexploration is a 3-day retreat program, similar to Marriage Quest, for couples who are looking for an intensive and powerful approach to marriage counseling with a greater emphasis on the sexual aspects of their marriage. No nudity or sexual touch is done during the counseling sessions, however the homework assignments often include some nudity or sexual activity in the privacy of your hotel or B&B here in scenic Vermont.

Common goals include:

  • dealing with different levels of libido or sexual desire
  • looking to “spice things up” in the bedroom
  • understanding and enjoying sex and aging
  • dealing with ED–erectile dysfunction
  • finding comfort and pleasure with eroticism
  • addressing effects from past sexual abuse
  • exploring pros and cons of alternative lifestyles
  • exploring sexual fantasy vs. real life adventures

** Many couples like to have a combined focus of Marriage Quest and Sexploration. All of our programs are individualized and therefore are designed to meet the couple’s specific needs and goals. You do not need to choose between a Marriage Quest and Sexploration retreat before coming to Vermont. We will work on whatever needs to be done as we guide you through a process of understanding and healing. The work needed will become obvious to us as we guide you.

Click here to see our Sexploration website

Our son, Dr. David Helfand, offers 1- 2- and 3-Day retreats for Couples as well as Stress Management, Mindfulness, and Neuro-Meditation. To learn more about his private retreats checkout his website: https://www.lifewisevt.com/couples-counseling/

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