Relationships Bootcamps: Are They Right For You?

1 April 2016

A ‘relationship bootcamp’ in a five-star hotel in Hampshire – designed to save your relationship in three to seven days without dragging up the past – has raised a few sceptical eyebrows.

Bootcamp creator David Keighley – a former NHS psychotherapist who practised for 33 years, and also an Anglican parish priest – contends that he starts where more traditional relationship counselling leaves off.

‘Imagine a couple with relationship difficulties, they can’t communicate, they get angry, there’s stress, money issues, children,’ says David Keighley, married himself for 41 years to Sally, a music teacher.

‘You go somewhere like Relate and you get a session with a counsellor for 50 minutes and then go home having spent that time in great distress re-living the past. Then you’re sent back into the combat of home life without any tools to solve anything. I wanted to create a situation where you come in broken and go out fixed.’

In creating ‘instant image therapy’, David Keighley says he uses a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), self-hypnosis, list-making, mindfulness, practical advice and sheer, brutish directness to change the image couples have of their partners.‘We have an image of our wife in our heads as a nagger, or our husband as a bully, and they have been built up by the past,’ he says.

He teaches couples to start from the present. ‘They first make a commitment to be together from here on in, sometimes as a written contract if needs be,’ he says, ‘and then we show them the past no longer exists.’

But Relate counsellor and psychosexual therapist Cate Campbell says: ‘I wouldn’t say Relate counselling is focused on the past other than to understand why a particular behaviour may have developed which may well change the image people have of each other.

‘My personal issue with boot camp-type therapy is that it has the potential to offer an immersive experience, open wounds and then tip clients back into chaotic lives. It could also be a way of avoiding important issues in the relationship, rather than learning to take responsibility for personal behaviour.’

If you’d like to try the Relate approach, give our friendly appointments team a call on 01234 356350.

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