Tag Archives: communication

Renewing Intimate Connection: A Retreat for Couples in Oaxaca, Mexico

Thursday, February 23 to Wednesday, February 29, 2012.

This retreat will enhance couples communications skills using ABC Change Process ®.  Stephen Hawthorne, LCSW, developed this proven, successful approach over the past 30 years in private practice and teaching in Duke University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry’s Family Studies Program and Clinic where he trains and coaches psychiatry residents and psychology interns to use the ABC Change Process ® for their work with couples and families.  Up to 4 couples will be accepted to participate.

Oaxaca, Mexico, is a remarkably beautiful, peaceful and culturally rich city where committed couples can truly “get away” from day-to-day pressures at home, allowing them to focus uniquely on each other and their relationship.  This experience offers dedicated time to renew your intimate connection away from intense demands of work, family, and the distractions of daily routine.  At the same time, traveling together in a foreign country offers excitement and challenges, along with opportunities for improving communication and closeness.

Retreat days will offer a mix of group seminars, experiential exercises, private couples consultations, and special activities tailored to each couples’ needs and desires.  Throughout the retreat week, we include scheduled one-on-one customized and confidential sessions with each couple to further explore and invigorate the relationship.  There will also be plenty of free time to discover the UNESCO heritage site of Oaxaca, a 16th century historic city, dine in exceptional restaurants, stroll through museums and galleries, visit renown archeological sites and take in the vibrant nightlife as you practice the skills you are developing.

Even the happiest marriages can get stuck when trying to resolve difficult issues.  In this safe, supportive environment, couples will have the opportunity to improve communication skills and create a closer bond with increased marital satisfaction.

By participating, you and your partner will:

  • Improve your understanding of each other’s needs and desires.
  • Increase your ability to express your own needs and desires.
  • Gain a clear understanding of the Problem Communication Pattern that keeps you stuck having the same argument over and over in some important area.
  • Learn multiple ways of interrupting that Pattern and creating breakthrough with mutual resolution.
  • Increase your ability to give and receive feedback, bringing you closer together.
  • Develop the greater warmth and intimacy that meaningful and successful communication creates.
Plus add-on extra days for a cooking class and market excursions.

About Your Facilitator—Stephen L. Hawthorne, LCSW 

Stephen Hawthorne

Stephen Hawthorne was hired by the Duke University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry in 1981 to create their first training program in Family and Marital Therapy.  He has taught in the program ever since.  Over the years, scores of psychiatry residents and psychology interns have learned and applied his ABCTherapy(R) model.

For a podcast about how and why ABCTherapy is so effective, click here.

As a couples and family psychotherapist in private practice for the past 30 years, Stephen Hawthorne has helped hundreds of people to create more satisfying and intimate relationships.  He has presented at many professional conferences to excellent reviews, and is founder of the Family Institute of the Triangle.   Hawthorne holds an A.B. with Honors in Political Science and French from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his MSW from the University of California at Berkeley.   He is a licensed clinical social worker with expertise in working with and teaching about gender issues, sexuality, chronic illness, death and dying, and palliative care. In addition, he has lived and traveled in both Europe and the developing world which gives him a keen awareness of cross-cultural issues.

Who Should Attend:   

The retreat will benefit all couples that are committed to improving their relationship – even if it is already pretty good!  It is not for people who are trying to decide if they should get married or stay married.  Creating true intimacy can be hard work, so being committed to the relationship is an essential condition for attending.

We suggest that each couple have a personal conversation with Stephen before registering to get any questions answered and to see if the workshop will fit your needs.  He can do this with you via Skype or telephone. Please contact him at phone (919) 942-8097 or email stephen@stephenhawthornelcsw.com. If either or both partners are in therapy at home, we request that they discuss attending this workshop with their therapist and clarify potential benefits as well as potential pitfalls.

Typical Daily Schedule

Arrival on Day One, check-in to your bed and breakfast, evening reception buffet and short orientation session.

Sample First Day

8:00-9:00 a.m.—Body movement and stretching

9:00-9:30 a.m. Breakfast

10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – Group Session with Stephen, orientation/application of the ABC Change Process with discussion, handouts and experiential communications exercises with your partner.

1:00-2:00 pm. —  Lunch

2:00-4:30 p.m. Some couples take part in private consultation with Stephen for in-depth personal guidance, while others are on their own for the rest of the day. On the days when couples do not have a session with Stephen scheduled,they may, at their leisure, enjoy the sights of Oaxaca and surrounding villages on your own.  This is a perfect time to visit the many unique local galleries, museums, and shops.

Subsequent days will have private couples consultation appointments and other skill building group sessions as well as free time to take your new skills out into the city to develop together. 

Lodging/Accommodations and Cost

We have selected a lovely, comfortable bed and breakfast inn located in the historic district of Oaxaca city.  It is within easy walking distance of excellent restaurants, galleries, museums, churches and other historic sites.  We will provide you with a list of “on-your-own” daily activities and arrange private transportation for you to visit outstanding local artisan villages and markets.

Cost: $2885 per couple/double occupancy.  This includes private room with private bath, daily breakfast, daily supper, welcome reception buffet, all group facilitation and learning sessions, and private couples consultation sessions, resources and recommendations.  

Add-on extra activity days: 

[  ]  Option A:  Add-on 5-hour Oaxaca cooking class, includes local market shopping tour and lunch, on February 29 (depart March 1).  Add $285 per couple (includes class, one night lodging, breakfast and lunch).

[  ]  Option B:  Add-on additional night lodging in Oaxaca on Thursday, March 1 (day on your own)  at $145 per couple per night.  Does not include additional activities. (depart Friday, March 2)

[  ] Option C:  Add-on Artisan Villages Excursion on Friday, March 2 (depart Saturday, March 3),  $325 per couple (includes one night lodging, group transportation, guided visit to Ocotlan de Morelos Friday market, visits to famed folk art potters and wood carvers, lunch on your own).

The retreat does NOT include airfare, taxes, gratuities, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, lunches, and optional daily excursions on your own with associated transportation. We will provide you with directions for taxi or shuttle service from the airport to your bed and breakfast.  We reserve the right to alter the program as needed. 

Reservations and Cancellations

A 50% deposit based on your preferred options is required to guarantee your space.  The final payment for the balance due (including any additional costs) shall be paid by January 20, 2012.  Payment is accepted with PayPal.  We will be happy to send you an invoice.  Registrations made after January 20 shall be paid in full.

Please see our cancellation policy listed in the Programs section of the front page of our website.  We recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.

To get your questions answered and to register, contact: oaxacaculture@me.com

This program is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.  We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Practice Your Passion. Tribute to Steve Jobs.

When I opened my New York Times news page this morning, I cried. As I watched the commencement speech that Steve Jobs delivered to Stanford University graduates in 2005, I cried.  Why? Because he touched my life in such a meaningful and personal way — his vision, insight, compassion and technology acumen gave me the tools to create my own passion, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator.

I pound away on my Apple MacBook Pro every day.  This is my fourth Apple computer (and I tend to hold on to them for years).  I carry my iPhone and iPad with me everywhere.  I am an Apple lover of a mature age who still desires to adopt and use new technology.   Apple has given me the freedom to write, create, innovate and connect because of mobile communications technology.

So, I guess the key operative word here is “love” for this piece of equipment that I imbue with human qualities because through it I am able to express what I feel about Oaxaca and Mexico, connect with people all over the world, engage in reciprocal sharing of ideas and insights, and make a difference.

This is my tribute to Steve Jobs and the legacy he created:  iMagine a world without iPhone, iPad, and MacBooks —  your impact will be felt for generations to come.  You will endure in the iCloud as one of the greatest innovators of our time.  Our work and how we communicate is a tribute to you.  I am grateful and  iThank you.

Soon, I will embark on a new adventure (to be announced soon) and I keep Steve Jobs words close to me: Stay Hungry.  Stay Foolish.

I have found what I love in Oaxaca Cultural Navigator and this is what I consider to be my “great work” and a “matter of my heart and intuition.”   In my new adventure I will be hungrier!  I am foolish!   (Who steps away from the familiar and embarks on something new in a down economy?)   Ultimately, all we have is time and our health and courage.  This is the lesson from Steve Job’s life for me: Practice My Passion.


Cultural Shifting: Understanding the Other

I want to bring up something that is sensitive for me, and that is my observation about how our cultures are so different. We hold different views about time and urgency, I think. Los Estadounidenses are in a hurry, are business focused and want to get things done and completed quickly. We are time oriented, like plans, arrangements made in advance, everything neatly organized and packaged, have a lower tolerance for taking it easy when things get a little messy. Visitors to Oaxaca are usually coming from these faster cultures where they are used to getting information quickly and where they make a decision based on service and responsive communication (or the lack of it). I notice that we (meaning those of use from the USA) are used to doing business this way and it is an expectation. Oaxaquenos know how to take it easy. It’s not a crisis if it doesn’t get done today. “We went to a baptism.” “It was my cousin’s birthday and there was a celebration.” These are not one or two hour events. They take all day and the entire family participates, so other things get pushed aside. Imperfection and “work in progress” is a way of life. It’s the process that matters most to Mexicans — the process of relationship. It is not about completing the task in record time. Work quality and excellence are priorities and standards of workmanship among people who love their craft are comparable to any fine crafts-person around the world.

So what, you may ask, is an El (La) Estadounidense? Mexicans say they are North Americans, too, so indeed they are Americans. They are also organized as the United States of Mexico, as a republic, in our model. They feel it is a geographic and political misnomer when those of us from the USA call ourselves Americans as if we had ownership rights on the term. So, those who are politically and culturally savvy call us Los Estadounidenses — the people from the United States, inferring USA — a useful term for cross cultural understanding.